There are a few examples that don't fit, like; TF2 and Fortnite I suppose. But I'd always rather pay a fixed fee for a game and be confident there's no incentive to sell me something...
Fortnite, besides having their own issues, also have the issue of "secondary whale-chasers" which is all those youtube videos proclaiming that they found a hack to enable a bunch of skins or similar for free. This means installing (what I assume to be) bitcoin-miners on each twelve year old's machine. You'd think that wouldn't be possible on a machine used by a twelve year old but Epic is extra helpful in that it basically requires its game launcher to be run as admin (because of its frequent updates to Fortnite that requires admin rights). So I assume most parents make their kid's account admin out of convenience.
I often have to use TeamViewer to access the PC to allow Fortnite to upgrade, and they don't understand why I still insist on this - my warning about just about all the possible negatives have been completely ignored, but I'm sticking to my guns. I know I'm fighting a losing battle and eventually will have to give up on this, but at the moment, it's working. I'm sure most people have given up, made the kid and admin and the computer is awash with issues as a result.
Obviously if I'm not available (which is often the case as I'm self employed in a number of roles, most of which mean I can't be available instantly), then it has to wait, and you'd think the world was ending!
This was generally true for me too, but in 2019 games are primarily a social hangout spot. They're like a park or a concrete basketball court next to the parking lot, where the kids come hang out and shoot the shit in the lobby even if they aren't actively in a match.
Not being on the same game your mates are playing is akin to telling your kid "you can't go to your friends' park 30 minutes away, why don't you hang out in our perfectly nice backyard with a basketball hoop"
Edit: upvote for the rest of your comment though
I've not played it first hand though.
On the otherhand, this article is discussing someone addicted to the gambling element of TF2's crates (aka loot boxes).
One can not customize one’s avatar at all without buying stuff. So you’ll be stuck as a default clone to the derision of friends and enemies alike.
And the game is very much aimed at being played by school friends.
Which I find quite problematic. Moreso as the spending is unlimited. It's so sad that we allow the socioeconomic structures to be replicated in games targeted at pre teens.
Weirdly though competitive games in the end do make you buy somehow. Those games are ridiculously addictive to the gameplay itself and somehow they have huge player bases that stick for a long time. From my entire high school 2 years ago - 50% of the boys were addicted to playing some of the top free to play titles. When you put down thousands of hours in a game spending cash on it becomes very normal.
Fortnite (and other cosmetic only games) do not alter the game play
Two of my apps:
Language Pairs: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/language-pairs/id1438817614?...
Moment to moment is the really gamefeel stuff like how it feels good to make a line in Tetris or step on a goomba in Mario. While the player is playing your game they should constantly be experiencing these moments.
Minute to minute focuses on how engaging your game is within a session. If it's a level-based game does it have that "just one more round" feeling?
Session to session is all about having the player set something up before they stop playing, so that they look forward to the next time they can play. The most famous example is the plow-plant-harvest loop that made Zynga a billionaire. You came back to the game cuz you wanted to harvest all those crops for the rewards. But if you think about what the session to session is in Pokemon Go, the curiosity of what's in your immediate area, you can see that there's a lot of design space here.
5-7 days retention sounds like at least one of these loops is missing or broken. Don't be discouraged, getting all these things to overlap is hard.
I agree with the commentators saying that FortNite is the newest, fastest growing social network. I spent a year watching my nephews play FortNite and Roblox. Their communication (voice & chat) with their friends is a HUGE factor. These MMORPGs are their social world.
Transposing with my own childhood, it'd be like if my friends and I had every Star Wars and GI Joe and Lego set AND awesome walkie talkies. Basically, crack for kids.
(FWIW, I spent much of the year dragging my nephews and their friends to museums, galleries, hiking, swimming, etc. They all pretended to hate it, but would nonetheless still enjoy themselves.)
No (and yes). Some people who thrive off of tangible validation may, but you will not drive long-term engagement or real enjoyment from it. Badges/levels/streaks and other "meta-game" only add value to a strong game itself, and is just a small part of the more holistic art that is game design. Same with vibrant animations, cool sound effects, pretty particle effects. Another small part.
It's better than nothing, to be fair, but if you really want to make your apps enticing in the way games are, you should play and get into a few games, and then study the vast field of game design as you see fit - presenting a challenge with demonstrable mastery, balancing multiple viable strategies, social components, enjoyable mechanics, challenge pacing, providing flow state, etc.
Otherwise you will just end up with an app with badges, and we kind of have enough of those.
Most of the really good players I knew couldn't care less about skins. People that did suck bought skins to feel better about themselves ("yeah, you won, but I have a $20 Udyr skin, noob!") Except one guy which was pretty good but had a gambling problem and liked the random aspect of buying chests.
What you describe is probably the social dynamics in your son's group of friends, which are probably kids and mostly suck, which makes buying skins the social signaling of their worth, for lack of a better metric.
It's essentially the digital version of the fashion industry, which most people seem to viscerally understand-- aesthetics are the primary motivator for most people's clothing choices, and they are willing to pay a significant premium for some items on this basis.
If you don’t mind sharing, how are the apps doing? Are you seeing consistent downloads? How about pricing? I noticed both are free—are you planning to monetize at all?
You don’t have to answer anything you’re not comfortable with. This is just a space I’m interested in, and I wanted to see how your experience has been.
I’m thinking of getting into the space to see how I can do. My eventual goal is to earn $1000 / month without too much maintenance / time beyond the initial development.
I'd rather pay a flat fee for a game and not be forced to buy in game currancy to buy gems and other things to buy extra items in the game.
Some people pay hundreds of dollars on ingame items to become a wallet warrior and beat the grinders playing for free.
For me, becoming more aware of "whales" highlighted other power law distributions, Pareto's Law, or whatever we call it, throughout society.
A few "bad apple" cops get most of the complaints.
A few alcoholics drink a lot more than others.
A handful of people do most of the property damage crimes.
So whatever else comes from this "freemium" awareness, there are some useful, important policy implications.
I would wager the same people who become whales are merely the same who would overspend on traditional sales periods for physical stores.
Facebook actually asked developers to make more confusing abstractions to exploit children they identified using parents funds. They wanted misunderstanding because the children would spend more and they would refuse the refunds and leave kids explaining perhaps a multi-thousand dollar series of transactions to their parents.
I would wager whales are simply being exploited more than anything. Defrauded. There simply are no people who accidentally spend $6000 in Target because it's not possible to accidentally spend that much money unless someone is duping you. If nobody is trying to defraud you, and you walk into any retail store, you're not going to spend $6000 by accident.
I do think you’re wildly off base thinking that people don’t drastically overspend at physical stores for physical goods though.
The children make the fraud apparent. FB defrauded their parents and they ______ the children to do it. They ______ adults in the exact same way and 1% are as susceptible as children and end up spending thousands and being called "whales". They have to suck it up and the kids can get their parents to demand the fraud be reverted, that's the only difference I can see.
BTW I'm not saying people don't overspend in retail stores. What they don't do is discover days or weeks later that some of the products actually cost thousands.
Whales make such payments intentionally. They understand that they’re paying hundreds or thousands of dollars- and are doing so in bulk transactions because it’s the most cost effective rate. They play a game regularly and spend so they can maximize their standing whenever new content is released (very frequently).
That is to say, whales exist in games with transparent pricing. I don’t recall specifics but I think Pokémon go was a good example of this. IIRC you could buy coins that were useful for buying poke balls and egg incubators. Not 1:1 but hardly abusive. Whales still spent (spend?) thousands on it.
Edit: every so often I click on an ad for the most awful looking porn based online game I come across just to see what it is. It’s quite surprising to see how deeply implemented some of their gameplay is given their garbage marketing strategy and value prop. What is truly fascinating however is how incredibly complicated some of their micro payment systems are. Dozens of resources introduced around every corner with unclear ways of acquiring any of them in game but each one noting that it will be required to unlock some stupid scandalous picture and can be refilled for $5. Whatever your mental model is for the insidiousness of app based micro payments is, you might find it bizarrely entertaining to explore how much worse it can get in such a context.
You say they're happy to do it but just to "find" a whale you must disassociate real spending and transactional cost, obfuscate real currency, create inconvenience etc. Nobody went in wanting to spend thousands and 99.99% opt-out of paying. That's 0.01% of customers being happy and a generous use of the word since they were never offered a version that wasn't a sales funnel of dark patterns.
Several are exactly like you describe, others need the anchor of money to loose as to feel invested, others simply have a lot of money and for whatever reason want to win in a game, and others simply thrive on causing misfortune to others through their financial advantage.
Those very whale friendly games are, as a sort of ecosystem echo, as fascinating as they are disturbing.
Honestly that sounds like a better reason to whale than I had ever encountered