Pay To Win
For being a game enthusiast, and being interested in developing my own games; It may surprise you that the pay to win gaming system has pretty much passed me by unnoticed. However, even I have been hearing the fallout from StarWars: Battlefront II.
How have I missed the pay to win epidemic:
Honestly, I do not play those kind of games.
From the research I have done most of the games affected by this are mobile games, browser games, and very poorly made games by small companies.
I do not play many mobile or browser based games. I also tend to be very picky about what games I buy and play. In fact the only mobile game I have played in the last 2 years was Pocket Mortys as I am a huge Rock and Morty fan. However, after about 25 minutes of playing it I got bored and moved on.
The Youtube video below goes over some of the worst pay to win games.
The problem as I see it.
There is a time and place for Micro-transactions, however, not everywhere and in every game.
When Micro-transactions are good
When a game is free, and you can gain cosmetic changes, or a very small advantage by putting money into it. I would argue that the Councillor setup which allows players to automate certain tasks is a perfect example of adding a paid bonus to a free game that works.
When a game is free and you get additional characters or levels. This just makes sense.
When Micro-transactions are bad
When you pay for a game, especially a going rate in that market, and you have to pay extra to unlock characters or levels. This is what expansions are for, or maybe even some DLC. However DLC works best when handled like it is in Fallout or Skyrim where it is like a mini expansion.
When you pay for a game and you can pay more to have advantages over other non paying players.
When you play any game that is just a skinner box.
If you do not know what a skinner box is here is a video.
The Good Brands Gone Bad…
I was actually surprised by some of the brands that have these games.
Marvel: It feels like a slap in the face to fans when a company like Marvel who has a billion dollar movie franchise can’t even give players a fun free to play game, it has to be a cash grab. It is also a shame as so many little kids love Marvel
StarWars: Once again a slap in the face of fans. EA missed what made many of the previous StarWars games so special.
The Simpsons: Once again many little kids love this. While not as profitable as Marvel and owned by a soulless media company… wait maybe that is just like Marvel… I’m looking at you Disney.
Angry Birds: Already making millions on the game, coming out with a pay to win game just really seems like a middle finger to fans.
Final Fantasy: Can’t you just focus on good game play to sell games instead of this BS? For the record I do not view this pay to get a random character as gambling. It is no more gambling than buying packs of Magic cards or Baseball cards to try to get the card you want. However, when you have a game franchise that is so established make one of their games pay to win it scares me for the future of some of my other franchises. At least StarWars is mainly a cinematic franchise.
Dungeon Keeper: I loved this PC game… the mobile game sucks.
Micro-transactions Done Right (and some done okay):
World of Warcraft: Probably the best example of Micro-transactions done right. You get no advantage over other players for what you pay for with real world cash. You get new skins for mounts and new companion pets to follow you around. While the companion pets do have some PvP use in pet battles, they are not stronger than the ones you can find in game through play. They also still have to be levels up normally.
Crown of The Gods: Ok now earlier I said it has pretty much passed me by, and I titled this section (and some done okay). That is because of Crown of the Gods. Crown of The Gods is the successor to Lords of Ultima. Unfortunately for as much as I love the game it has a pay to win feature. The only reason I can find this semi-acceptable is it is capped. You have Charisma, and you can only use so much Charisma a day and then it slowly regens. The Advantages paying provides does allow you to more quickly build up your bases. The Charisma and the fact you can fill out Surveys to earn thousands of the in game currency keep this from being totally broken. I think it is a good combination for a free to play game.
Fallout Shelter: I only played this game for about 10 minutes when it first came out. I am a huge Fallout fan, however, these type of mobile games are just not my thing. Here is a great break down on why the paid aspect of this game works so well. If you h aven’t noticed by now I love Extra Credit. They have one of the most awesome Youtube channel’s around!
I really agree with what they say about the PVP aspect affecting it. In the video below at 6:00 into the video they say “As counter intuitive as it seems” in relation to the hardcore gamers feeling like they can’t keep up.
To me this is not counter intuitive at all. In fact it makes perfect sense if you know the mindset of the hardcore gamer. Hardcore gamers are competative, Hardcore gamers want to be the BEST. We do not want to see other players doing better than us, especially if it is for a reason other than skill. This would frustrate any Hardcore gamer.
In my opinion casual gamers are more likely to enjoy the PVP aspects of the pay to win games if they are not willing to pay. They are not as competitive, they are playing for fun.
Removing PVP from the game causes it change, instead of of the pay to win it becomes just pay to optimize.
So if you don’t play those type of games what do you play?
Well as I have said before, I prefer older games. However, I do enjoy some games I would consider current or newer… (Ok some of these you may not consider new, I like to find games I love and play them a long time)
- 60 Seconds!
- 7 Days to Die
- 80 Days
- Craft The World
- Elder Scrolls (Marrowind and Skyrim)
- Fallout (1, 2, tactics, 3, 4)
- Galactic Civilizations (1, 2, 3)
- Oxygen Not Included
- World of Warcraft
- Crown of The Gods
- Dragon Age (1, 2, 3)
So as you can see with the exception of Crown of The Gods not a single pay to win game on the list.
Do you plan to put Micro-transactions or DLC in your games?
Well I am not really sure. There will be no pay to win or Skinner boxes in my game.
I am completely against pay to win, in game advantages for paid games, and Skinner boxes.
What will I do? Some sort of progression system in my games, DLC for mini expansions, and maybe Micro-transactions for cosmetics. However, that is way down the line.
Here is a great video on using progression systems without them being a Skinner box.