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Purchasing extras for games
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Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 4:09 pm    Post subject: Purchasing extras for games Reply with quote

It seems the PSIII online functionality will emulate the 360 with per-game shops to sell game addons:

With this and Oblivion selling mini-updates, are all agmes going to start selling themselves in bite-size chunks?

This is something I wrestle with - as a game player, I don't know, it just 'smells' a bit. Perhaps I'm just used to how things have always been, but having to purchase weapons for a shoot-em-up?

On the other hand, as a developer - if this were possible then it would justify doing all kinds of mad things - content updates for Starscape etc.

There's loads of things we would love to do but that we'd feel unconfortable charging money for - like rewriting Starscape from the ground up using a 3D engine and allowing massive extensibility!

I don't know, it just doesn't feel right - expansion packs, I'm ok with, but some things should just be in the game from the start.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think if you're going to charge for new features you have to provide some for free too. But I don't have any fundamental problem with the concept. Sure, distributors can use the system to charge too much for too little, but that's nothing new.

That said, some packages feel more "right" than others. A level pack, a set of skins, new game modes, a level editor, these are the kind of things I like the sound of. They supplement without transforming. They don't make the game without them feel incomplete. On the other hand, buying new weapons, vehicles, spells, powers, units... that feels a bit more dubious. That begins to feel like Pokémon. I don't want to feel like I need these things to get the full experience the developers intended. Equally I don't want to get all these things and find the game becomes an ill-designed hodge-podge that's been over-extended to make a few bucks.

I'd be interested as well to see developers/publishers provide a light-weight system for fans and modders to sell their creations through a centralised and regulated system. While very few mods, skins, levels, etc. are worth paying the price of an expansion pack for, there are a fair quantity that are certainly worth a pound or so. It would be nice to encourage hobbyists with small payments like that - not enough to quit their day job, but maybe enough to keep them enthusiastic about creating extras. They can choose themselves what price to set for their creation, and if it's fair people will pay it. It would be kind of like Cafépress.
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Joined: 04 Nov 2005
Posts: 46
Location: England

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have a problem with paying for extra features as such. What I have a problem with is if it was always planned to release these features seperately.

Let me explain what I mean. Say you make a game, package it and sell it. It then sells well. You decide that it would be nice to add some more stuff. Then, it is acceptable to charge.

However, if you make the game, and at the same time are producing the extra stuff, or were planning all along to add the extra stuff after release... If you want people to pay for it, that stuff should have been in the original release.
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Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Location: Olympia Washington

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always hated the idea of an expanson pack, and don't think you should have to pay for updates.

If you want to sell me a new game than you should make a new game.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 21 Dec 2003
Posts: 522

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mind the idea of building a large add-on to a game. Something like Tales of the Sword Coast for Baldurs Gate is awesome. Brood Wars was a great Starcraft add-on.

But I do mind the idea of building tons of little add-ons to a game that you have to buy one-by-one in order to have a complete game. The first thing I buy from you should be a complete, playable game. If I spend 50 bucks on a brand-new game the day it's released and then I find I have to spend another 50 just to compete, I'm going to be mad.

If, a year later, I find I have to spend another 20 to get a new expansion that everybody else likes, sure, fine, that's great. But I absolutely refuse to have to drop 5 bucks here, 10 bucks here, 20 bucks there to be able to compete on a level playing field.
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Pod Team
Pod Team

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I look at it from a different perspective as a small indie developer: I really just want to be in the position to pump out free updates for games indefinitely, but, of course, we can't justify sitting down and doing that as we have to make sure we can pay bills. I'm also not really comfortable charging for content updates unless they were a major expansion and continuation of the original game.

The fact that Warhawk seems to have lots of little items made ready for its online shop, and yet the game isn't even out, just doesn't cut it for me. Especially selling individual weapons!

We've talked at Moonpod a lot about the world moving away from product and towards services. This has already happened in markets like Korea where games are generally free, and you pay for customisation options like avatars, or subscription based like MMORPGs.

I don't really like the idea, but then developers are not having an easy time of it due to the ever rising expense of development. It seems to me that if this became the only way to make and sell games then it cuts out a massive sets of games - like single player ones for instance! Just makes me a bit sad.
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well the future is a service based economy and Starscape Online would be awesome. But i just don't like buying a game and then buying another game that i can only play if i have the first game.
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Pod Team
Pod Team

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

icarus wrote:
Well the future is a service based economy and Starscape Online would be awesome.

The thing for me personally - I am totally underwhelmed by MMORPGs. Purely as games, I think they suck, but then the social aspect of them is really great I suppose. Poo Bear's Starscape Online idea is for something that is a bit more 'real-time', and would require a bit of a premium of servers - so wouldn't be cheap to run. It got me really excited when I read it, but now we basically just don't talk about it, because it's quite annoying not being in a situation to make it right now. Sad

What I'm really worried about though, is that in the future, the only games that make money are online based, shoveled to you via some kind of subscription service with a sideline in low cost pay to own in game items like silly hats for your character, and anything else is pretty much throwaway. It's a business model that thrives in a piracy saturated and/or 'we want everything for free' mentality world, but it potentially makes lots of great game ideas unworkable.
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Doom III

Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Posts: 117

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

paying for tiny extras sucks but id pay for a starscape remake just because its something i want

even though i already own starscape i know its something that would need all your time so i wouldnt mind paying for it

hell square keep remaking their games and charging for them

probably just because its moonpod i say that Smile
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starscape junkie

Joined: 15 Jun 2003
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Location: The Thirteenth Colony

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my mind theres a few scenarios where this is acceptable, and a few where i deem it to be rather money-grabbing.

Level packs, for example are a prime example of something i have no qualms about spending a buck or two on, its new content, it cost money to develop and if its a good game a couple bucks for some new levels is a great investment in regards of cost:enjoyment ratio.

However, holding game elements such as weapons or vehicles hostage seems rather underhanded to me, especially when games like TA and others would release them for free. Theres also the fact that weapons and vehicles really dont add any real value to a game, its just something fancy or shiny.

I also dont approve of multiplayer games holding upgrades needed to stay competitive with other people as purchases in a store, because then the game becomes less about who has more skill and more about who spent the most money on the game.
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a stupid, stupid, stupid idea. Ever hear of Navy Field? Great idea, lousy execution. Massive multiplayer navy combat sim. Only problem, they spent all this time researching historical ships, weapons, etc, and then made it a twinkfest game. Sure, it feels great at first, but once you get in you realize it's GRINDING. Just like Evercrack. You have to GRIND to earn points for better ships, better crew, etc. UGH! It will literally take you a year of dedicated playing to get a battleship. The good: you get your first 30 levels free. The bad: there are two types of subscriptions, normal and premium, and premium players also get to cheat by making ship mods that regular players can't, buying special abilities, etc. Essentially you're able to cheat your way through the game with money. I think they even said you can buy better sailors with it (the sailors are what you grind so much time leveling up.) That is so not cool.

Now the SMART way to do it is something like this: ok, so all the players are playing online using company servers. The monthly fee helps keep the game going. When new content is brought out, players can pay a reasonable fee for access. As an example, look at Dawn of War. Great single player game, little replay value. Now imagine redoing the online combat mode. Anybody who buys the game gets the four default races: Orcs, Imperial Marines, Chaos Marines, and Eldar. Each race should have a single player campaign to go with them. Now after the regular game development is done, the dev team would go on to creating and playtesting armies based on the other races in Warhammer. Those new races would be made available online as they are completed.

Here's the important part, and this also plays into the difference between casual and hardcore gamers. ANYONE can play skirmish missions with ANY race. Full access to the whole tech tree or accepting whatever limits are agreed on in the scenario. These battles do not count towards anything but your overall skill score. "For Keeps" battles are totally different. Those battles will earn you command points that can be spent on collecting "pieces" for your personal army. These pieces will be based on the existing game models but their textures can be modified by you and their battle honors will accrue with each and every battle. You'll build up from a basic squad and eventually aquire an army. For big challenge battles, you can even put favored pieces "in the pot", winner take all.

So, if you're a casual gamer, you pay your $50 and play the game casually. The skill score lets you see how good your opponent is and you can find someone your speed. If you're into the game, you pay your $50, your monthly fee (shouldn't be some insane $15, $7 seems more reasonable), and you can pick and choose the armies you want to "collect." If you take a shine to the Tyranid, buy the army expansion for $10. You'll get the single-player scenario and can officially start collecting units. Not sure if you want the army yet? Play it in skirmish. You can download all the models for free (you have to in order to play against someone who has them!)

I think a scenario like that is equitable. It's none of this incrimental upgrade BS, it's just like buying the expansion guide and models for real paper and pencil gaming, but the publisher isn't being cheap and making you buy the models piece by piece, you drop $10 and you have the right to collect the whole army, you just have to play.

To look at it from another perspective, I think that serious sim freaks have been overlooked for a while. I could easily see the hardcore guys willingly paying an annual fee for continued development of flight sims or realistic wargames. $50 to buy your full license, $20 each subsequent year to upgrade to the current version with all the mods and improvements. Sim freaks and serious wargammers don't "get bored" with the game, they'll always be playing it. The market will be thinner than for something like World of Warcraft but remember, these are the guys who drop $10k to build in-home hardware for their sims! (and that's probably a lowball estimate.)

The thing that should make this more doable than in gaming past is the net. No publisher, little overhead for distribution, online community to keep people in touch, informed, and rabid about the game, etc. This sort of thing shuold give the publisher an honest continuing revenue stream rather than feeling like some sort of dishonest con game. In the time since I played Starscape, I know I would have bought several decent expansion packs if they were available. I would have been miffed if the only thing you had to offer was, say, a "Blazon Cannon!", only $5 and it's mine. Or "New! Now you can repaint your ship green!" $2. Lame.
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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I don't mind the idea of paying for addons, I think they need to be fairly sizable and also shouldn't be coming out at the same time as the game. Also, you really shouldn't be able to get stuff for a multiplayer game that gives you any advantage over people who haven't paid.

With Oblivion, to my mind, they've handled their addons really, really badly. About a week after the game shipped, they released the first addon which was overpriced and was, essentially, just a texture anyway. Why wasn't that on the disk in the first place? Was the 60 quid I paid not enough for them?

And now, they're still dripping out these pretty minimal extras which were clearly designed into the game before it came out (like the Orrery, which is behind a door that's locked until you buy the key) yet they've still not patched the various game-breaking bugs that exist in the game, which is fairly inexcusable.
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