Basically, there are a lot of high quality single player adventures to be had out there, and if you're patient enough to wait 1-2 years after release, you can a) focus on just the good stuff, avoiding duds, and b) snag complete/goty editions for very inexpensive, which will have all the DLC included. See the the price trajectory for Horizon Zero Dawn, for example:
(And yes, I'm a grown-up with three kids; this is gaming done an hour or two at a time a few evenings a week— gone are the days of pre-ordering a new release and then pouring an entire weekend into it when it comes out.)
I usually wait for most games to go on a Steam sale, unless it's Bethesda or a game that just looks exciting.
One interesting note particular to Nintendo is that other than the very limited "Nintendo Selects", their first party games basically never go on special. This means that if you want a deal on an older game, you have to buy second-hand physical, because the digital game is still $60. (Don't believe me? Twilight Princess HD, a 2016 remaster of a 2006 game, still retails for full price: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/the-legend-of-zelda-tw...) Anyway, the consequence of this is that in general you just want to buy physical regardless for a Nintendo system because the retained-value means you'll have the option to trade it in for much longer than you would any other game.
This is in contrast to the PlayStation store, where there are weekly Steam-like sales with loads of great games always available at the click of a button for sub-$20. So much so that there are entire websites and subreddits that track these things and trade recommendations around, see: https://www.reddit.com/r/PS4Deals/comments/axn3f7/ubisoft_pu...
Actually, this is not particular to Nintendo if you extend it a little bit. Disney does the same thing with their classic animated movies. It's a statement from the company about the quality of their brand.
It seems to be a necessary choice these days as media continues to be pumped out at historic levels. Ignore most of it, even if it's pretty good.
I have so much content to work my way through at my own pace, I probably won't even make it to Kingdom Hearts III this year, much less need to buy any other RPGs.
As horrible as companies like Activision are these days, they don't have the same options in this regard.
Team Fortress 2 was one of them. Even if you didn't pay, it was still fun and free. In the end, I did pay for a few things, so the business model seemed to work.
Now I'm hooked on Crossout, which is also free to play. Basically you can grind your way through it, or speed up the process by buying packages. The packages are extremely expensive though.
When you hear microtransactions, you (and I) immediately think of those nasty Facebook games, or annoying mobile games. EA pulling some nasty tricks is also part of that (Pay extra to play Darth Vader).
But there are games out there that are able to pull it off decently.
The real problem is that the original model was simpler: Pay X, you get the game.
Now the model is more complex, and you never know what you are going to get: Pay X, and maybe the game will be fun up to a certain point, where you have to pay again. But then again maybe not. You will find out once you sunk in a lot of money already.
So in the end, you will never know how much the experience will cost, and that is the real issue.
That's not even to mention the crate and key model introducing the lootbox garbage that has infested games today. I've paid money for cosmetic items I want in other games, but I'll never pay $2.50 for a 1% chance, or even 80% chance of getting what I want.
True, there are quite a few items that do not fit in well the original aesthetic.
But nearly all of the items introduced into TF2 are designed by solo creators who get a percentage of the profits for any of their items sold on the store.
So yes, you now have a visually (not functionally) different game, but the upside is that talented designers from all walks of like can make a good living from the profit sharing model Valve has set up.
I played the original QWTF very competitively. It was simply a mod for a Quake. Man, already I want to swoon about mods and how they brought so much life to games (Counterstrike for Halflife anyone?), but I digress! I loved TF2 originally, however once they started adding all of those items it drove me nuts. Now if you wanted to be competitive you had to grind out or buy some of the weapons. These things changed the game. Not in a dramatic way, but enough. If they had just stuck to cosmetic hats I wouldnt have cared at all. Those are just for looks/fun and do not change the game.
As for games like Crossout where you can either grind or buy to speed things up, those are the epitomy of how evil micro transactions are. It is preying on peoples addiction or lack of patience. Any game that has things you can buy to speed up the playing of the game is one I will never play.
Then you have loot box games, where they prey on gambling like addictions. Until I started reading about loot box laws and stuff I never really gave it much thought. I have purchased loot boxes in the past, but I did so out of support for the developers. Overwatch came out and I loved that to death. When they released some new content for free, I was like "here this is my support for your continued efforts".
The Darth Vader trick EA pulled was pretty terrible too. That would be akin to Overwatch releasing a character behind $.
The only kind of micro transaction I like/approve of are cosmetic ones where they do not change how you play the game. You are just buying stuff to look different/"cooler". Fortnite is a successful example of this. Tons of people play for free and are no worse off than those who purchase the Battle Pass.
EA & Apex Legends are crossing the line ever so slightly with the "Free Game" but having other characters be unlockable. So far, if you play just a little bit, you can unlock one for free using the tokens you receive, however many people will just buy to unlock. Also it is rumored their batttle pass will bring another character. I say ever so slightly since, for now, this is a team only game and neither of the unlockable characters are game breaking like a Darth Vader would be all powerful.
Every other kind of micro transaction is essentially a pay to win mechanic, and why play games if you aren't trying to win?
Basically, he argues that the game has a really strong start, and an excellent climactic chapter, but the enormously bloated midgame is full of arbitrary level-gates and other nuisances which force you to grind on cookie-cutter side quests. The concern is that this is an attempt to sell impatient players a real-money XP booster. And if it works out for Ubisoft and isn't adequately called out, that we'll see a lot more of this kind of thing going forward.
If you programmed on the C64, is there any lessons/insights that you would teach to someone 10 years younger than you are?
I have heard cool things, like an actual complete user manual, including how to program registers.
I don't think I would download a C64 emulator in my spare time and actually see how it worked for myself.
I think that was the Apple II.
I should still have the C64's user manual tucked somewhere, but it didn't described the internal architecture. I recall there were a couple of examples in Basic to move sprites and to produce sound from the SID "poking" (the PEEK and POKE Basic instruction) values to a few registers.
Some kind soul has scanned it: http://www.classiccmp.org/cini/pdf/Commodore/C64%20Programme...
I guess it depends on the kind of programmer you are. I consider myself a top-down programmer, where I try to get functionality as easy as possible. If there is a lib, I will use it, and don't need to know what's inside. So for me, these times are way better where you can get crazy amount of functionality in a few lines of code.
But I know plenty of programmers that I label as bottom-up programmers. They love the technology first, and functionality comes second. So for these people, they were able to fully understand a system back then. I worked with plenty of such people in the embedded world.
So if you are into that stuff, I wouldn't waste my time with old systems, but get your hands on something new, but still simple enough to fully comprehend. Such as an Arduino.
But maybe better ask a "bottom-up" developer what they enjoy nowadays.
Designing the ideal rate of progression to keep a given game engaging is difficult enough as-is. Too little content gating and you risk burning through all the content too quickly and players getting bored. Too much content gating and the grind begins to feel punitive.
In this context, muddling the mixture further by throwing in this kind of incentive just feels like a recipe for shit-tastic UX/CX.
In the end of the day, how you do microtransactions matter, its not an evil thing by definition.
The micro-transaction thing really is a sad turn of events though because it is not a content neutral change to games. Certain types of game mechanics are more amenable to to micro-transactions, and it creates an incentive to create artificial difficulty spikes in a game.
You also mention in your comment that this is not an issue because sales volume has more than made up for it.
If the industry is just now becoming more mature and saturated, "inflation over decades" is not relevant.
Companies are moving to micro-transactions simply because it is now very easy to setup and a guaranteed way to increase revenue. And that's what companies do (optimize for revenue/profit), regardless of inflation.
If a microtransaction provides a clear indicator of exactly what you're buying and its cost - or even if it doesn't but provides an honest and upfront maximum ceiling for how much you will have to pay to get the item(s) you want - then a consumer can make an honest cost-to-value analysis and decide whether or not to buy the product. And I'm fine with that - though the latter example I'm less fine with, it at least provides a mitigation: an avenue for doing that analysis in a rational way and creating a maximum amount of spend that prevents open-ended cycles of addiction and spending.
A loot box or other fully randomized model has no such financial ceiling, and calculations of expected value have to be performed by users entirely like measuring odds in a casino. And casinos, like video game companies, take advantage of the fact that humans are intrinsically bad at that: and that people can easily become addicted to systems that provide rewards randomly and intermittently. And unlike a casino, we ask both children and adults to try to make that on-the-spot assessment when we talk about loot boxes, which as a society we have found unacceptable for other forms of variable ratio schedule-based transactions.
My thought process is pretty straightforward. If, in order for a product to survive, it has to/tries to trick a user into misunderstanding the cost-to-value of their financial transaction, then the product can't actually stand on its own merits and doesn't deserve to exist. Or the product should admit that it is a casino game: and as such it should be heavily regulated, kept out of the hands of children, and I want nothing to do with it.
Some games do get microtransactions added after the fact, but that's mostly in multiplayer modes (like GTA Online vs GTA V), and thankfully I've never been much of a multiplayer fan.
I imagine it's far too late in GTA V's lifecycle for them to announce something now, and it's a real shame.
And they were usually mostly made by one individual. Now, the expectation for larger AAA games is much, much more. People expect more out of graphics, voice acting, and music. Games have budgets greater than many movies. And this is expected.
Micro-transactions aren't unique to games. They come from normal business, so hoping they go away is hoping for businesses to pass on making money. That's not going to happen.
I wouldn't count on it. Look at the "gacha" market on mobile. These are fairly simple games with relatively small budgets and some of them are pulling in near $100 million per month on microtransactions.
On mobile that will never happened. Consoles are becoming a smaller and smaller slice of the pie. If anyone can hold back the wall it is Nintendo. The mobile market is just insane and has been for over 10 years now.
Don't be fooled. Most software is made this way now. Everything from upsells in apps to web services is the pay as you go model.
Racket or not, there's obvious economic reasons everything has been pushed this way and games did not lead the charge.
Well I got one with that intention, (not for myself at all).
I hate micro transactions with a passion, because I _know_ they exist to keep taking money off of you just to get an enjoyable experience.
The only game I buy micro for is PoGo because my wife enjoys it and it's something we can do together, outdoors, but PoGo doesn't even need you to buy them if you're in a well populated area.
Also, they are predatory, so that's other reason for not support them, companies that try to sustain themselves using addicted "whales" deserve to fail as soon as possible.
By the way, the most downvoted comment on reddit history so far is exactly one when a big company (EA) tried to stuff a lot of microtransactions in a big brand name (star wars), fearing the backlash, disney intervened and told EA to remove them.
Conventional games require a certain commitment of immersion and structured time. But when I have the energy to immerse myself in something and the available structured time, there are certainly more important or interesting things I would rather pursue than a traditional game.
This is where mobile games come in. If I'm in an uncomfortable place when I'm prevented from or unable to do anything interesting, such as in public transport, it is comparatively pleasurable to grind a bit on these games. And there are quite a number of these slivers of time in my everyday routine. Mobile games are typically designed so that they are near-frictionless to hop in and do something without a heavy context switch. They fill an entertainment niche for me, and probably many others, that conventional games cannot provide. Previously, light games like Minesweeper or Solitaire filled this niche, but mobile games are of superior value since they offer a semblance of progression and community. Of course, among microtransaction-heavy games there are those that are more frustrating and exploitative. What I'm primarily playing is the game in question in the article, Dragalia Lost (DL), and I've had a pretty positive experience in the free-to-play and dolphin-friendliness monetization model of the game. Monetary purchases are typically priced out of the range of people who have little discretionary spending, and spending more money gives diminishing returns. It might be troublesome for someone with poor control, but for me I get as much of a kick calculating expected values of their different virtual goods on sale (and end up not buying them anyway) as playing the game itself.
but compared to the other consoles or mobile? PC might compete and win, but it's a bit of a different beast in this respect.
that said, they've been pretty good about maintaining quality, both in hardware (durability) and software. switch is changing that with a ton of 3rd party stuff, but thus far their track record is dramatically, orders of magnitudes better than PS, PC, XBox, or mobile.
As someone who has gone from a significant income to a non-existent one due to founding a company, I quite like that my gaming is subsidised by those who are willing to spend lots of money on cosmetics.
Apex launched with 6 unlocked and 2 locked. After a couple of weeks of play I almost have 1 more unlocked.
R6 you start with none, but can get the 'original' 20 operators unlocked pretty quickly (~15 hours of play). There are another 40 or so that take much more 'renown' to unlock, and I may spend some cash on some of them if I continue to play the game. There is enough learning at the moment that I feel no need for that.
The result is I think a beneficial incentive. It's not '£50 whether good or bad, 5 hours or 100 hours' classic purchase model, the profits there are a result of marketing as much as game quality. Instead it's 'low or no barrier to entry, and money will only continue to come in if I continue to be engaged with the game'. I may end up spending more money on a game (over time), than I would compared to a purchase price, but that will only be on games that are rewarding me for a decent duration.
To me, this means developers are incentivised to make engaging, interesting games that are worthwhile in the long term!
Nintendo has kept scummy micro transactions to a minimum for as long as I can remember. Even Pokemon Picross had a maximum spend on micro transactions (after $40, any further premium currency was free)
It seems a console maker can sometimes survive one generation of significant success without going too crazy, but I'm not sure there's ever been one that has survived two without getting bitten by their own arrogance. We'll see if Nintendo's humility survives the Switch.
Yes, they would have made more, at the expense of the entire industry.
Well, bad news: it's not under the jurisdiction of anyone's job title. And not considering it brings us to... well, where we are today.
I'm amazed that they are still very careful with their experimentations, and not switching everything to the free-to-play model. Let's hope they continue this way.
I would love to see big, AAA studios step forward and be brave enough to say that variable ratio schedule-based microtransactions are morally objectionable, and that - even if they've used them before - they have changed their minds and are no longer willing to normalize the practice in the industry. But then they have to put their money where their mouth is and actually stop using it.
(To note, thanks to the paywall I can't actually read this article. I read another site's summary of it. So if they are removing variable ratio schedule microtransactions from Fire Emblem Heroes and other games that they control, good on them!)
Here's a telling quote from the summary I read:
“Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game,” an official at CyberAgent told the Journal. “If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”
THAT speaks to the heart of the conflict that exists in the industry. There are some people who genuinely don't see the use of variable ratio schedules in microtransactions as ethically compromising, and see not using them as "leaving money on the table." It is this attitude that we need to be aware of: not just as consumers, but as creators of products. Software engineers, designers, producers: we need to think carefully about how the products we make can affect people, and how it can harm them. Creating a product cannot just be about maximizing profit. Software Engineers, at the very least, are bound by a duty to think about and attempt to mitigate the harm brought about by their creation. (See IEEE and ACM code of ethics) "If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more" makes me glad that they didn't manage the game alone. It implies that no one in that company is asking themselves about their ethical duties as the creator of a system designed to take advantage of common human psychological weaknesses.
When we boil the question of variable ratio schedule microtransactions down to just "did we leave money on the table," we are saying something about what we picture as being our duty to those affected by our products. And it's not a pretty statement, even if it is unintentional. I'm sure that the people who made that statement don't consider themselves to be "bad people," and I won't even go so far as to say that they are "bad people:" but it does make me think of Hannah Arendt and "The Banality of Evil." It's very easy to get so caught up in what you're assigned to do, what your business/organizational/state goals are, that you lose sight of your other ethical duties.
Doing what's right isn't about justifying whatever you can think to create, or even whatever people won't happen to notice or complain about (i.e. what you can get away with). It's about doing an honest evaluation of the ways in which the products you make can hurt people. It's about expressing some level of empathy - thinking seriously and honestly about how you would feel and what would happen to you if you were one of the people that were to fall into harmful cycles that the product encourages. And it's about accepting that - even if you believe that the person falling into it had a "choice," that you were intentionally injecting yourself into and influencing that choice through techniques that we as a species know to be psychologically manipulative. (and indeed, we know they are effective as tools of psychological manipulation because if we didn't, we wouldn't be using them)