> For a concrete example: Every cruise line has an onboard casino – except for Disney cruise ships.
Wow that puts some teeth behind this debacle. I was under the impression this would be a lot of noise and battlefront 3 would sell a billion copies.
Some in the player community has claimed that the CEO had a rap sheet and Disney was pull out because of the whole Metoo thing, but pulling out over the heavy use of loot box mechanics may make more sense.
EA? I doubt it. They are doubling down on lazy skinner-box type gameplay models. Their entire business is one act of congress away from total vaporization.
Physical sales have been declining across the board.
And their stock is at a 5 year high almost exactly 5 years after doom and gloom over how SimCity’s DRM debacle would end EA.
2016: down 17% (5 percentage points)
2015: down 18% (8pp)
2014: down 13% (7pp)
2013: down 15% (8pp)
(this isn’t a perfect comparison, because the battlefield number is change in count while the industry numbers are change in share, but it’s a starting point)
(edit: despite the industry-wide decrease in share, physical sales have actually been increasing in count since 2013 , making the Battlefield decline in physical sales look even worse)
Unless they significantly changed how they sell in different channels (news to me), there has to be something title-specific beyond delivery format cannibilazation going on. Hard to speculate if that’s primarily the PR backlash or a combination of things (title fatigue, short release cycle since last edition, quality…).
I imagine EA is pretty resilient against a single title underperforming though, be it SimCity or Battlefield or whatever else.
Is it possible Disney execs simply did not recognize that an in-game mechanic not commonly called "gambling" was in fact gambling? Is it possible when they do a more thorough analysis, they may be upset by this?
Having not played Diablo, I'm not very familiar with the history.
I know DII at least had a significant secondary player market for items, but the idea of loot boxes being "the main pitch" is new to me.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
I can't answer your question without breaking NDA.
edit: Okay, I get that this is being downvoted for not contributing to discussion, but I just wanted to be clear about why I'm not chiming in on this one in particular, given that I'm generally very actively involved in discussions about stuff like this.
I enjoyed working at EA very much, and I enjoyed working with the folks at Disney/Lucas as well.
And as for the person who said 'just violate your NDA' - I openly associate this username with my real name and provide my contact information in my profile. I don't believe in hiding behind a username - this is me, these are my thoughts and opinions, not some amped-up avatar that I use to blow off steam on the internet.
Such a fundamental, core value that it can be proven false within a few seconds of searching.
EA's revenue at the end of the last fiscal year was nearly five billion dollars. I do believe the $800m quote about FIFA is correct, but that puts it at around 20% of total revenue, not the 80% or so this article asserts.
Don't ever assume that Some Random Guy On Youtube has his numbers correct. If CGP Grey (or someone as respected) does a video about this, he/they will probably get it right, but I don't trust many others to do this kind of analysis without getting the numbers wrong.
To further highlight the silliness of the original video, it includes some assertions about the cost of game development - EA has claimed it's going up, the author notes that EA's publicly available R&D expenses have gone down in the last four years, therefore the cost of developing games has gone down. This is a completely false claim, because the number of games EA has released has gone from 20+ per year to less than 10. The cost per game has gone way, way up.
(I'm not going to take a position on loot boxes here because I spent seven years working on games that had them and I don't want to get into that debate right now.)
And yet, that's the core of the piece, and that core is pretty well articulated and damning.
Edit: I just want to add that on a personal level, I avoid any game with these manipulative elements in them. I love the idea of for example, For Honor, but the mechanics are perfectly tuned to abuse the player. Who has time in their life for that nonsense?
I'll just play another CDPR game.
Basically, if you (not YOU you, but rather the impersonal 'you') want to have a discussion about the morals and ethics of loot boxes, fine, but don't try to back it up with false claims. Using numbers in a moral argument fools everybody into thinking that there's more certainty around the situation than there actually is. At best it's misleading and at worst it's malicious and dishonest.
Edit: Just to add a quote from the article, Note: I’m going by the claims of the video. I still haven’t dug into the EA financials myself.
So lets do some in the article.
"In 2012, about 17% of EA’s revenue came from stuff like loot boxes and season passes. This year, about 45% of their revenue did."
That paragraph talks about revenue, while this paragraph discusses profit;
"In 2012, EA made $76 million dollars, and in 2017 they made $976 million. The kicker is that we know $800 million of that comes from FIFA, which means all the rest of their games combined earned the other $197 million."
In Japan, gambling is illegal and the games industry looked for ways to bypass this regulation. Gacha is what they found.
But after gacha was perfected into its ultimate addictive form, Kompu Gacha, the government had to take action and regulate it. Now Kompu Gacha is illegal. The legal alternative is Box Gacha, and that is what all westerners are copying.
The idea is to not sell you what you want, but rather to sell you a low probability of getting what you want for a lower value. This causes people to underestimate and lose track of what they're spending.
But Box Gacha is not the only thing, there are millions of other ways in which those guys have perfected the art of taking money from addicted gamers.
Pay to win is a race to the ground. Some players won't mind throwing $10,000 to win, you will never beat them. And if you do beat them, you are a chump.
Btw you are talking with someone who worked in the games industry so unless you've got certain credible source to refute what I am mentioning here just concede the point.
Well, I'll turn it back on you. What evidence do you have that loot boxes would not have come about in something very close to their current form if the Japanese game industry did not exist? And "because I work in the games industry" is not an answer.
I mean, this is a ridiculous hypothetical in the first place. But the broader point is that the fault for the current condition cannot be blamed solely or even primarily on the Japanese industry alone. "The merchants and the traders have come; their profits are pre-ordained."
In many countries it is required by law to specify to the user what is being purchased. Because of this, it is very easy to track / verify that one system is equivalent to a specific form of gacha.
Then, it is widely accepted that loot boxes are based on gacha. The Wikipedia article for loot box has more context in this regard.
It's a PVP game that all players get points for winning and loose points for loosing. Power of your deck comes from lootboxes you get at decent pace for playing or can buy for real money.
The great thing is that thanks to the ranking people are matched with players of the same strengh (either skill or money/time investment) so you are always facing challenging but not impossible opponents.
Getting higher in ranking just makes few new cards available when you are above respective ranking thresholds. Those cards are not obviously stronger than others because units are well balanced.
All this makes the game fun for all players no matter what is their time/money investment.
My take is that it's not worth spending money on this game but I recently found out that TotalBiscuit came to that conclusion only after he spent few thousand dolars on this game. So it's a great game for everybody, rich, poor and the game developers themselves.
Most loot box games have this as a general concept because pure randomness ensures that the chance of getting a new unique item from a finite set decreases for each new item you get, but Clash Royale compounds this by geometrically increasing the number of each thing you need to get to upgrade it.
If you play well, you get to a point where your opponents' cards are way overstatted against yours. And that's where the temptation to give in and make a purchase comes...
"Dave paid the DM $50 so he gets the level 20 character. That's just the way it is, you can like it or leave."
Differences in player power will break cooperative games just as much as they'll break competitive games.
"Okay, so here's the kill stats. Dave: 1,422 kills. Sally: 3 kills. Bob: 4 kills. Lacey: 7 kills. Good job working together everyone!"
Someone getting advantages from pay-to-win would absolutely make people upset, myself among them.
You can be Nob, I'll be Aragorn.
Have fun tending the Prancing Pony while I'm off at Helm's Deep.
It's pretty obviously not a non-issue, no-one wants to be playing the Red Shirt/Peasant/Pikeman/Villager while their mate's running running around being a Jedi/Ranger/Paladin/Spock/Special Ops/Cyborg/etc. just because he dropped $100 extra on a game you both paid full retail for.
I was one of those twelve. First Mass Effect game I didn't finish, let alone play over and over again, because I realized I just didn't care about my party members.
If Battlefront hadn't made it pay to win, the gambling conversation wouldn't be happening yet.
The cosmetic items were the rarest and most valuable items in TF2 crates, but gameplay-affecting weapons and equipment were the bread and butter.
> Once in power he announces his vision for the future: Marshmallows in everything, without regard to flavor or the intended market.
It was before my time, but didn't this actually happen? In the 1950s, the industrial process for the modern marshmallow was developed and recipes put marshmallow in all sorts of inappropriate dishes.
GTA 5 comes to mind, single player has nothing to do once the main quest is over and unless they fixed in the car spawning uses a seed based on mission completion (I suspect) so it gets stuck spawning the same 3 bad cars over and over. No DLCs no extra missions no nothing but cosmetics and events for GTA:O
Also, I'm a little unsure about some of the things said because I don't have a ton of knowledge about the performance of the different games discussed. Like at one point the author mentions "The SimCity backlash."... I do know a bit about that one. That SimCity game that got all the backlash? It immediately became the best-selling game of all time on the Origin service right after its launch. There is simply no way to classify that as anything except a resounding success from a business perspective. It is a fundamental mistake to listen to online talk from gamers as the audience has proven themselves to be their own worst enemy. They shovel mountains of money at the things they claim to hate, and withhold money from anything that deviates.
It's not like there aren't games that don't follow these predatory practices. There are tons of them. And they don't make very much money. How can you back up a claim that gamers actually do want those different practices followed if every game which follows them languishes miles behind the titles which don't? If the public pronouncements of gamers actually mirrored their actions, listening to backlash might make sense for a company. But as it is, when the gaming community lights up with anger and "boycotts", that is the most reliable indicator of stellar sales. There really isn't a solution to this problem outside of gamers doing the one thing they seem constitutionally incapable of - not playing the games. Not preordering them, not buying them after release, not even pirating them, straight up not playing the games. (Buying the game and then stopping playing it shortly after release is actually the ideal situation for any publisher, it enables them to more rapidly reduce their spending on server resources and even piracy drives other sales.)
I'm not sure why videogames have such a different audience compared to all other forms of media. In other forms of media, the audience vehemently defends their chosen medium, combatting censorship, responding to exploitative practices with substantial actions to back up their complaints, fighting for the rights of the audience over those of the publishers, etc. But we see no significant amount of any of that when it comes to videogames.
I heard a second-hand account that Paradox Interactive (the publisher of Cities: Skylines) only greenlit Cities because of the Sim City debacle. And Cities went on to become a big success, which probably wouldn't have happened without the Sim City debacle. So if this is true, then it cost EA their monopoly in that particular genre.
There’s a point where saturation occurs, like away FPSes today, but city builders aren’t there.
Maxis is gone, I'm not sure I care to play another city sim made by EA without the creative team that made SimCity 1-4 such a joy.
It bugs me that the video games industry (both production and consumption side) seems to have a looser relationship with creative talent than, for example, the movie industry. A Quentin Tarantino or Guillermo Del Toro can get all kind of pet projects greenlit within the movie industry and on the consumer side fans of these directors will show up to anything with their name on it (I know I will). That doesn't happen as much in games where even a hit-maker like Kojima gets treated pretty poorly by his studio meanwhile the franchise he's known for shambles on like a zombie after his departure - still making money. See also: Call of Duty after Vince Zampella and Jason West.
I'd like games to be more like movies in this respect. I can imagine spending a lot of time browsing an IMDb for games....
When pablo escobar sees $800 from cocaine sales in the US he didn't see just "hey this works, lets try to make it work elsewhere" he sees "hey this cocaine shit is addictive, lets sell them more and kill anyone that gets in our way".
This is why we tend to make predatory things illegal, because they use their vice to corner the market and control the user.
> In other forms of media, the audience vehemently defends their chosen medium, combatting censorship, responding to exploitative practices with substantial actions to back up their complaints, fighting for the rights of the audience over those of the publishers, etc.
Eh, I don't really think you know too much about other mediums then. Television and Radio have had massive amounts of censorship in US history. Between the FCC and MPPC the government has been very hands on in those industries.
The reason it seems different in video games is sales are not restricted in the same manner. There were only a limited number of radio stations, television channels, or movie theaters in the past. With games, especially recently, digital distribution is effectively unlimited. You don't have to fight for the medium because there an unlimited number of games you can play or places you can find them. Why fight, you'll just die tired and have less time to play a different game.
And at every step there has been aggressive active resistance to that by the audience. Even just recently, book publishers floated an idea a few years ago to put recommended age ratings on books aimed at the childhood and adolescent markets. Readers, authors, and all fans of literature exploded. They launched boycotts (and unlike gamers they're not lying when they say they'll boycott something), they got loud. Publishers quickly backed down. Gamers would never think of resisting age prohibition rankings. In the movie industry, we had the Hayes Code for awhile and movie fans opposed it unceasingly until it was eventually repealed.
And with games we face higher censorship than in any other medium. In movies, for instance, if the movie features animated characters rather than real people (as all videogames do), you can get away with essentially anything at all. Just look at the South Park creators and their movies. And you can get an unrated movie and pop it into your player and watch away. With videogame consoles the console makers have all declared they will never permit an unrated title to be licensed, nor will they ever permit any title given a rating that restricts it to an audience of 18+ gamers. And thanks to the DMCA section 1201, that edict of the publishers gives the ratings handed down by the ESRB the full force of federal law.
And you have to consider the 'Chilling Effect' as well. You can't even propose beginning a project in the gaming industry that has a significant risk of being black-balled with an AO rating. Most gamers look at M-rated games, which are equivalent to PG-13 blockbuster action movies at their most 'extreme', and think its equivalent to an R rated film. They would never think of standing up and saying 'content on a screen is not harmful. Ratings are restricting what we have access to in significant ways and need to be stopped.'
We don't have ratings on books. When you go to a bookstore, there is a 'childrens section'. That is sufficient, and no more is needed. No prevention of kids from grabbing books intended for an older audience, no group of 'concerned parents' declaring the appropriate age range of readers, no ratings agency charging tens of thousands of dollars to grant a rating which is used to determine whether a reading device will permit it to operate. Gamers are downright scared of such a system for games, though. And for no legitimate reason.
I'm pretty sure that the executives at EA are in touch enough to know that gamers aren't happy about it.
That said, one of the first things about being an executive in a business is understanding that your customers are your customers as long as they like the product more than they dislike it. The gaming community has a bad case of being extremely vocally critical (which may just be a very loud minority) yet still paying for the game, so there's a big disconnect between how much people complain vs. how much people actually still buy the game.
$800 million in loot boxes from FIFA says "yes, we can get away with it and keep our customers." And then EA steps over the line on a game and learns "ok, now we know there's a line here somewhere, we're going to get as close to it as we can."
Mostly because western video games seems to be tied to one demographics. Both culturally and business wise. In Asia, you have games for young people, games for old people, games for stereotypical boys and stereotypical girls. For people with a lot of time on their hands and for workaholics quick playing on their way to work.
I don't means just by themes or story lines. Witcher may have adults themes, but try to play it while having full time job and family. A game review written from point of view of someone employed is almost guaranteed backslash with a lot of yelling about "not a gamer" and reviewer not being qualified - because the review would have to be done from point of view of someone with time limitations.
While there are easy to find books and movies for adult employed audiences, it is not nearly the same with games.
I disagree. There are tons of puzzle games which can be played by anyone. Lot of e-sports focused games can be played fast like Rocket League. Point and click games are still alive and kicking. Things like "Long live the queen" or "Black Closet" can be played in 30mn sessions.
But yeah, that's not AAA games so when you have to check some game store and not expect ads to get drilled into your eyes about those games. You have to open Steam or GoG at least one time.
They don't need to dig through pile of barely reviewed games and genres targeted at niche fans (which usually means more hardcore taste in some regard). Any game can be played by anone, technically speaking.
Not sure why puzzles would be the thing for other demographics. However, assuming it is, Steam sux for finding good puzzle games. It does not really allows you to distinguish puzzle from rpg or adventure with a bit of puzzle bent.
Playstore much less so for that matter, but then again, steam audience is quite hostile toward games that seems to them too much mobile like. It is ok, it is their playground, it is not like west would have millions of retirees waiting to buy on steam.
Which is back to my point. Culturally, in the west, games are meant for and consumed by much different demographic then movies.
I am a player of a number of Wargaming products and they have all sorts of ways to get money from players yet the EU forums are quiet compared to the NA forums with regard to bellyaching over pricing; though reddit is just mad all the time with players from all regions chiming in.
I am more worried about the political class getting involved and running under the the for the children umbrella. nothing good can come of that and might give them inroads on more aspect of gaming that one segment or another finds offensive
The simple fix - other than eliminating them - is to eliminate the possibility of rare items that become valuable.
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