This is basically addicts gambling. Its the sort of numbers you see at Casinos and online casinos, and ... i dunno. It saddens me. Yes the vast vast majority of players have a "bit of fun", most never pay for anything, but all the profit comes from the addicts.
Even in IOS App Store. Which really did look like it was trying to avoid that.
There is a whole industry of knockoff apps designed to deceive the tech-illiterate, and Apple seems like they don’t give a shit - even when these apps seem to be violating Apple’s trademarks - perhaps because at the end of the day they take home 30% of that.
Aside, as long as these apps continue to operate on the app store and grift seniors, I will never buy Apple’s “this walled garden is to protect users” argument.
A relative works with people with slight Develmental Disabilities, and his clients are targeted by the same apps. It's almost like they have a sucker's list of emails?
I know 501c3's pay for lists of individuals who are easy targets.
That Cars for kids is playing right now on my radio. A few years I researched it, or as much as I could on the internet. All that money, and 1 four bedroom ranch style house in the Sierra Foothills.
And I can't even watch those Humane Society commercials.
I once heard Shriner's hospital has enough money in their war-chest to last another 20 years, even allowing for expensive breakthroughs in medicine.
I sometimes wonder if morals are completely absent in most entities.
Wanted a leveling app (use your phone to check if something is level). Tons come up, all of them "pay us $60 a year to unlock this app".
Same with dB meters
I don't so much mind that these apps exist but I do mind that the App store for whatever reason, being hacked, gamed, etc, surfaces the scammy stuff to the top.
I don't own an iPhone so none of mine go through Apple but my point is there are any number of legitimate subscriptions well above your arbitrary figure.
Also, the number was .5%: https://www.ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2021/7/8/app-store
I'm also not sure if "addict" is the right term. If someone likes to go to a high end restaurant once a week, they'd likely be spending far more than $450 a quarter on food. Do we call them addicts even though they probably only represent .5% of the population as well? We only live once, so who are we to question how people spend their money?
The difference between these games and a high end restaurant is that, at the restaurant you get what you order.
In the games, you roll a die and have small change to receive a big payout.
I would have no problems with the games if you could just choose the high end loot and pay for it.
This is untrue of most games with IAP. You are usually buying in-game items to speed up your progression through the game, or to give you some advantage.
In practice, I imagine the brain mechanics are much the same as a slot machine though. I once saw a senior couple sitting at McDonald's next to each other, both on an iPad, slowly tapping away at the screen of what looked like a Clash of Clans/other town builder game. The dead look on their faces as they tapped away reminded me of addicts at slot machines. While the gambling aspect isn't the same, the dopamine hits I'd say are largely identical.
It's a similar desire to wear the latest fashion, not last year's or last decade's fashion. Art designers for these games are charged with creating new stylish character skins and effects that people would be jealous of every season. I'm perfectly fine with this as a monetization model.
One exception is Blizzard, who charges $60 for Overwatch and then also sells loot boxes with cosmetic items. There are other games like Path of Exile that are completely free (and aren't battleground PvP games) that rely entirely on money from players buying cosmetic items. (OK, to be fair Path of Exile does allow some small in-game advantages from buying stash tabs i.e. more inventory space, but it didn't feel like a huge advantage compared to the number you get by default.)
Put another way, I'm reasonably sure that gambling addiction support groups outnumber fine dining addiction support groups by a few orders of magnitude.
My theory is Dominos has figured out that online orders are much more efficient to take than phone orders. As such they are doing everything they can to nudge people to order online. So no I don't think it's to get people hooked on Domino's pizza because of a roulette you can play when you order, I think it's a "nudge" to get you to order online.
Regular Joe wants to order a pizza and goes to call Dominos, when he looks up the number he sees the promotion but only if he orders online. Even though Regular Joe usually orders over the phone, he orders online this time, even winning some breadsticks for his trouble. Regular Joe now orders online whenever he gets Dominos.
Not much different than the Phone then. I can assure you there are at least a few dozen people who buy Domino's once a day thanks to this promotion.
You can enter simply by mailing a self-addressed stamped envelope to Kalamazoo and waiting two weeks, it's just as easy as ordering a pizza online.
* soft drinks
* media (film, tv, publishers like Buzzfeed, People, etc.)
* half the useless shit I buy on Amazon
Certainly if everyone became tee total the restaurants could not afford to stay open at the prices they charge for food alone.
Source: my brother spent 20 years in fine dining up to executive chef levels.
Regardless, people spending this much money are likely old enough to choose to gamble (or stealing their money, which is a different issue altogether). So I'm as concerned for them as any other gambler/alcoholic. Wish them the best but I don't care to bring the government in and regulate everyone's behaviors (My country historically tried and failed with alcohol. And is slowly losing similar efforts with drugs).
Microtransactions give the brain the same chemicals but without the possibility of a cash payout and are engineered to take as much money from the user using techniques casinos don’t have access to because they exist in a physical space and not digitally inside a mobile phone without having to offer cash payouts for winners.
well, it wouldn't be very undergrounds if you saw it, no? I have little doubt that they exist, even if I cannot prove it. Underground betting rings is almost a cliche in modern media.
>Microtransactions give the brain the same chemicals but without the possibility of a cash payout
no, games do that (outside of like, Steam Marketplace where you can apparently sell digital items yourself. So the money traded IS the rush). MTX are a monetization taking advantadge of that dopamine rush. And nowhere close to the first one.
nit - playing poker against other people isn't gambling, it's a game of skill. Much like chess, if you're better, you win and can earn a living. No one earns a living playing roulette.
"We live in a society"
And people's behaviour is a function of their environment: blaming "personal responsibility" and leaving it-at-that is a position taken out of either ignorance of how society and complex-systems operate, or out of callous disregard and suggests you lack empathy.
It is indeed lack of empathy. 2 years ago I didn't even HAVE $450. Let alone $450 to spend on any gaming whatsoever, regardless of ethical pricing. These are premium entertainment, not some base good nor even a (IMO unethical) attempt to promise riches like a lottery/high APR credit card/high interest loan/gambling. There is no premise that you'll be making your money back unless you're trying to flip a free mobile game account (which is against pretty much every services' TOS, if you want to get legal about it).
So again, best of luck improving themselves. Addiction is rough and it's not easy at all getting out of it. But people spend hundreds recklessly on so many items, legal and not. Or on items that are long term detrimental to our health (e.g. fast food, cigarettes, alcohol).
I don't think they should all be left to the governemt to decide. Because historically that hasn't stopped the actual addicts (given that I know/knew several friends on already illegal drugs). At some point you need intervention of self and close loved ones. Making all mobile game MTX illegal won't solve these people's problems
We all live in a society, but that doesn't mean we all have to agree about everything, or even that we're all on the same team. To me it just means we're willing to co-exist peacefully, and resolve disputes via due process. From there I really don't think I have the right to tell others how to spend their money, or whether or to whom to sell their kidneys.
Gamers spent huge amount of money on Steam and were even proud of it. There was whole.vulture of "Inpaid more for games I am better then you" as dumb as it sound.
And there are the people who hate mobile games the most.
It's an interesting quandary. one person paying thousands for games for "clout" despite never playing 90+% of them (almost exclusively digital, so of no resale value compared to collecting physical copies), vs. one person paying thousands for a few single games they likely play way too much.
Addict is a difficult term. As patio11 points out elsewhere most definitions of addiction include desire but inability to give up, plus some degree of harm. Helping addicts is a individual task, but I think social policy has a role to play in harm reduction.
I like Richard Thaler's idea of Libertarian Paternalism. Yes we support each persons individual right to fuck up their lives. But we should set the defaults in life to be ... in the best interests of the patient as it were.
So, each month we take taxes out of our pay packet, oh and yes, by default you pay 8% into a pension. New job? You are automatically enrolled in a union. Want to get out. Fine, fill in the form. (P.S. that one changed the course of British Politics for a century)
We can question how people are persuaded by others to spend their money. We can question the polluters who muck up the rivers, so we can also question the polluters who pollute our minds.
I am sure is an unpopular position, but, at the bottom level, I find it annoying that supermarkets put kids toys and chocolates right next to the checkout.
(Perhaps better advice is - you are human - you will get addicted to something. booze that something carefully)
Like watching a who Person is always out of money and gets a lot of hand outs; blow all the money on scratchers.
I have a family member whom I only buy food for because every dollar I give them goes straight to scratchers.
She once won big. 150 out of the 100 dollars I gave her. she then proceed to buy our kids expensive crap.
Umm that was so you had food for week.
I think your fitting your own narritive to these numbers with no data.
Pokemon Go doesn't really have a gambling aspect to it though, so I can't fault it in that area, nor am I really sure their model is a problem - since the people spending the money are choosing to do so for their own entertainment. It does feel a bit odd though, and ultimately it did hurt the experience of the game (since you do better if you pay more).
1. Catching the pokemon at all. There is only a probability with each throw that the ball catches the pokemon
2. Getting good stats. It's easy to get mediocre stats from the raid pokemon, which are randomly generated and not known unitl catch time.
3. Getting a shiny. It's something like a 5% chance from a raid that the pokemon will be shiny. And of course you don't know until after you spend your raid pass.
Niantic gives you only 1 free raid pass a day, so in order to get more chances at shinies and good stat pokemon you need to spend money.
I don't know WHAT people are spending on since the core loop of the game isn't monetized, nor is there any stamina system that locks people out of the core loop like many other japanese mobile games. But they have a lotta people spending a lot of something.
Honestly a bit surprised that I haven't heard of some non-Niantic titles trying to compete. I know part of it is purely on the pokemon brand, but there clearly must be some slice of the market to cater to outside of that.
I paid $100 4 years ago, that I still haven't used up. Though I can see how someone could go overboard with it.
Has it become a lot worse now?
I spend ~$200/month on just fitness related subscriptions, but would balk at spending any money on Pokemon. Different people, different hobbies.
A bit tangential, but there is some serious cognitive dissonance here on HN (and more broadly in the tech world in general). When Apple/Google does this -- facilitates some kind of arguably degenerate behavior -- it's "evil." But when OnlyFans does it -- sex addicts, lonely guys, social weirdos that need friends collectively spend millions of dollars on parasocial fake OnlyFans relationships -- this "empowers sex workers."
You make a great point that I didn't really think of! Apple definitely tries to massage their optics. Could also be why Apple's store is also more criticized than Google's, even though there's a lot more garbage on the Play Store.
We need absolute control over our platform -> so that we can control the user experience -> so that we can make the iPhone ecosystem a more private, secure, safe, high quality place
If it turns out the reason they need absolute control is so that Apple can milk whales in the same way Zynga did... well, IMHO people are entitled to call hypocrite angrily.
It’s so fascinating how other people’s inventions are “obvious” and not worthy of exorbitant fees, while our own inventions are unique and clearly deserve special protections.
If you want to make the case that launching a new mobile phone platform is as easy now, I'm all ears.
I think that very few of them are significant enough to flood over the moat Apple and Google have built.
Among those? Screen-less mobile computing (glasses/HUD) and true conversational AI agents.
But the rub is that (particularly within the Apple ecosystem), a competitor has to not just be better (on day 1, vs the 14+ years of iPlatform evolution), but better enough that people are willing to jettison the entire Apple platform for a competitor.
Which means Apple can release later, with less quality, and still retain most of their users. That's the evil genius of pivoting to a platform / services company.
Google to some degree, albeit to a lesser extent, since their services aren't as tightly coupled to first party hardware.
You could repeat that for any product that has a dominant player somewhere up it's value chain.
That's not the world I want to be living in.
Competition breeds excellence. Monopoly breeds complacency.
I don’t think so. I’ve talked to people who use onlyfans and most are truly delusional. In that they think the site runner cares about them and responds just to them. It’s almost harder than physics sex work because few people think the prostitute cares about them.
I had people swear that when someone wished them happy birthday, they cared because “they didn’t have to do that.”
I know its a typo, but I now have this image of Carl Sagan dressing like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, that I cannot get out of my head :-)
Curious. Would you describe them as lonely people?
Also, the idea of OF isn't that one dude spends thouands to a million dollar coporation, it's that thousands, maybe millions, spend like $10 to see curated boobs, which mostly goes to a single creator (at most. a dozen people managing their social media).
I'm not a vehemently against mobile games as many parts of the internet, but it is a different dynamic altogether.
But like, going to strip bar with guy friends is no better in anything.
But it’s just a subset of course of the bigger problem of the “Twitter take” often being light years away from the “average take.”
Para-social relationships are potentially troubling, but have nothing specifically to do with OF: they exist on YT, Twitch, insta etc.
AFAIK, all kind of guys use and pay for porn. Not just social weirdos.
Wow this an extremely hostile take on OF. What a vapid, overly opinionated and negative view of sexuality. Do you really think that P0rn is used for lonely social weirdos that need friends? Is that a genuine take on the purpose?
There's dozens of studies on parasocial relationships and how unhealthy they can be; dozens of studies on how heavy porn consumption lowers libido and is overall not great for you; and dozens of surveys on how my generation (millenials) and younger (zoomers) are more lonely, having less sex, having less friends, and less happy than previous generations.
There is no causation link here.
There are plenty of other massive social upheavals going on that are likely tied into this. The pandemic. Political acrimony. Impending impact of climate change. Helicopter parenting. Economic difficulties and uncertainty for younger generations. Facebook and other social media. Celebrity obsession. Abuse of addictive patterns in gaming apps.
We’ve created a world where people’s real life prospects are dwindling and yet there’s cheap, easy, and unlimited access to virtual dopamine generators. While porn is certainly a contributor, I don’t see any evidence that it’s an outsized one or that it deserves to be singled out from the myriad ways we’ve ruined things for future generations.
Also and more directly to the point, GP was addressing GGP categorizing porn consumers as “sex addicts, lonely guys, social weirdos”. The vast majority of the western world—including women—consume some amount of pornography. They just do it overwhelmingly in private, which is why such a stigma exists. Paying for it is not necessarily indicative of it being a problem for these people, in the same way that paying for music or other media isn’t. It’s just a changing of the norm to one that is frankly an extreme improvement for the women who do this as a profession.
That second link discusses correlations and calls for further study which you've translated to "porn causes Millennial's problems" in your summary, which is not a reasonable takeaway.
People with healthy relationships and healthy bodies are almost certainly going to have less time for porn, for one thing. It's hard to put in porn viewing hours if you are hanging out with platonic friends or going for a walk with your crush.
This seems a bit uncharitable, I don't think I've done this at all.
It may not be intentional, but it is indirectly saying that these activities are major contributors
So, how do you control optics? Large marketing dept? Positive PR? Buy positivity?
or has the world really changed?
Thought experiment: if she spent 10X less time but $2K/year on the game, would that be more or less troubling? If she took that trade, she'd be an addict by your lights, but she'd be spending 10-30 min rather than 3-5h/day, and I'd be THRILLED. It's interesting to me that we are generally totally fine with something that sucks up (or alternatively, makes enjoyable) all or more-than-all of someone's free time, but we get upset when it takes even trivial amounts of their money.
I have my own gaming addiction (with games that have complex systems), but I find the mobile gaming model perverse and manipulative.
1. Arcade machines meant to be overly difficult to extend playtime and each quarters
2. early console game made to be extremely difficult with punishing systems (limited lives, lack of save states, etc) that artificially extend the playtime of what's not ~3-5 hours on an emulator
with these features
3. early online computer games inflating engagement with horrendously low drop rates, and requiring groups to be formed to very slightly accelerate the rate at which content can be cleared so they can keep a monthly subscription up. Bonus points for the group forming an in-pressure to stay engaged, possibly after you've tired of the grind.
4. splitting of the game into 2 or more "versions", which have minimal differences but require both versions to truly gain completion or some specific rare item. Again, bonus for forcing social interaction amongst peers to give pressure to buy the game (or a different version so you can interact).
5. in the realm of 4), sometimes rereleasing a "director's cut" a year later at full price with cut content (that you can argue was cut purposefully) in order to get more money out of 90% the same content
6. DLC that includes anywhere from cosmetics that used to be available in game to the direct "time saver" item packs that is now often contributed to mobile games.
We're just at the newest iteration. And much of the west is already moving from #7 being taled about today (stamina systems and random chance at drops) towards 8) Battle pass structures to encourage playtime and give extra rewards on a pseudo-subscption system. An interesting combination of 3) and 6).
1. choose 1 or buy 2 versions of a game that is 90% the same (example, Gold or Silver, whose differences are in some dozen pokemon exclusive to one version)
2. a year or two out, receive a 3rd version with extra content charged at full price (Crystal). Often acting as the "definitive version" for that generation.
It's not the most common model, but a few other franchises outside of pokemon have definitely applied their own take on it (often Nintendo related ones).
It was already night and day seeing where game design re: funding was going.
I decided I'd never play another MMO without a good answer to one question: "Am I enjoying every minute of this?"
Not "Am I enjoying the rewards?" or "Am I enjoying the thing that happens after 4 hours of doing something?" Every minute.
Because a game should be fun. Always. Otherwise, it's a waste of my time.
(said as a UT / TFC / Tribes fan)
Does that matter? Is it a meaningful option?
If she made that trade, she'd have free time, and there are a milion more addicting options (plenty of which are free!), so the steady state would likely be the same time spent on similar whatever, plus the $2K/year. Or, if she finds a better hobby (yay), no need to pay $2K/yr!
depends on how you value time. Which seems to change based on age. At 14 it wouldn't matter, I'm happy spending hours grinding. Now at 27, it's much more ambivalent.
>she'd have free time, and there are a milion more addicting options (plenty of which are free!), so the steady state would likely be the same time spent on similar whateve
maybe, maybe not. I've had friends who quit big mmo's just play other MMO's. Some just moved to a new MMO, some moved to new hobbies. Sometimes even more expensive (oh boy, I'm SO glad I'm not a car junkie. Geez, the money and time spent on parts... not to mention the danger. ), some "productive" and even profitable (e.g. I helped give some tips to a friend learning to program and said he quit Lol, which I remember him playing pretty heavily even before college).
Too broad to assume.
How? Apple literally did everything it could to incentivise this behaviour. It blocked upgrade pricing to incentivise in-app micropayments. It relentlessly promoted lootbox filled games ahead of discrete experiences with sensible pricing. The layout of the store was totally biased against titles without this structure.
Apple 100% steered towards a whale economy in the app store, and didn't give the slightest toss about the human misery that resulted in because it made their monthly results look a bit better.
Game addicts can exist at any monetization level. Governments have been passing laws to further regulate f2p and protect those players. Total money spent is not a reliable way to identify them.
Now this only adds up to dozens of dollars per release, but I suppose that puts me above $150/year, which feels to me like a reasonable level of support for the company to continue to offer a product I want.
How do we distinguish addicts who cannot resist spending money they can't afford to spend, from genuinely super rich people for whom any number smaller than thousand is effectively zero?
Chuckled. "Even in". The app store is derived around squeezing whales. Apple is the best at facilitating gambling addicts dumping cash into IAP in the world. "Even in" I guess speaks to their public image.
And why would they prevent it? When a gambler spends $450, Apple gets $135.
He said in those games sometimes for months product managers would be focused on certain users (often 1-3 users) rather than the larger audience. He said there was an old lady who was somehow spending 5 digits dollars a month on their platform and he was kinda the dedicated developer for to her for quite some time. Features were built keeping just that user or few users in mind. Specific plot changes were added, resource changes - sometimes across games where this user would play. He said pricing of purchases were also changed for that specific customer compared to others. (This is the gist. It’s been some time so I don’t recall exact details)
It seems unethical. I wonder if certain juridictions have laws that companies are breaking here.
If they were responsible about it they would allow you to set preferences to filter out titles which have IAP. Also it would be granular; you could configure so you can see or not:
1) Titles which have one-time IAP for permanent feature unlocks.
2) Titles which have set-price recurring subscription IAP.
3) These are the evil ones (not universally so, but unbridled they are. I agree with the general conclusion of Kongregate's CEO as summarized in the article linked for this overarching discussion.) These should even have some sort of account lock-out that's harder to override available: Titles which have some sort of endless in-app currency.
Otherwise, yes, they are basically encouraging addiction just like casinos and probably ought to be regulated as such since they're not self-policing at all.
Perhaps the default experience would include features like:
1) The first time you spend more than $100 cumulative on IAP for Endless-IAP type items, a popup with a link to an article about available spending controls comes along with it.
2) You get a similar reminder every additional time you cumulatively spend $100 on IAP for Endless-IAP type items (across the whole App Store). This could be disabled, of course.
3) A more urgent reminder comes up at the $1,000 cumulative mark. It encourages setting an account-level monthly budget. It takes more work to disable.
So the App Store is something which a large subset of the global population has shoved in it's face, just for having a phone; which society expects of them. It's not people seeking out a "gambling-type" experience.
There's a greater onus of care to be a responsible player. I guess then they'd sell less of the self-help and counseling apps on the store too though.
This would show Apple's commitment to avoiding encouraging regrettable addictive behavior on their platform.
In the traditional multiplayer space, the players with the best stuff and most progression are lifers. Those real addicts: The people who are online all day every day, whenever you sign in. A lot of them are kids, and I used to be one back in the day. But as a full-time employee with a wife and a kid, I can't ever compete with that.
Pay-to-win games give people who work good jobs a way to compete: If I know that an item it'll take me three weeks to grind out will cost me $20 to buy outright... I make more money working in real life, so why not buy it in-game instead of wasting my time grinding.
That's exactly why I hate most IAPs: developers intentionally make parts of the game annoying so you'll be tempted to pay to skip them.
Guess that's just the literal cost of wanting a game that constantly updates. People can argue that single player games are the best bang for their buck, but it really depends on if you're the kind of people who will play a snigle game dozens of times or if you're one who want to mostly experience the main content once.
Why do you think that desirable item takes 3 weeks of grinding to acquire? Pay2win is bad because it incentivizes developers to make their game an annoying slog, then turn around and sell the player a solution to the problem they just created. They’re not helping you by giving you the option to pay to skip part of their game; they’re the ones responsible for the grind you’re trying to avoid.
But if you're making more out of game than in-game, it's just good time management.
Counter-Strike was never my game, but during the course of a match you could ladder your way up to an AK (absolutely reasonable for most gameplay) within the first couple rounds and it was pretty difficult not to be able to get an AWP at least for a while if you wanted to. I played FireArms Half-Life and The Opera instead, where you built your loadout and everybody had access to everything, save for in FAHL specific skills that laddered up throughout a match themselves.
You pay $20 to win? For $15 I'll call you a winner. Visit my OnlyFans.
In my household this has approached $300/mo at the highest, but is typically around $80-100/mo.
That is all without a single in app purchase in a game.
I wonder how many industries have the facade of normality but are propped up by this kind of ugly secret.
(Note - this is isn't necessarily the same 0.5% each quarter, so it doesn't mean that 0.5% of app store users are spending at least 1800 per year.)
My capsule review of the game nobody asked for: if you like Breath of the Wild, you'll likely enjoy it a lot. It is not as pure of an exploration game at BotW is, and the emergent game mechanics that made BotW such a joy, a toy which produced its own unique stories with every player, are mostly absent. The exploration doesn't tie in closely with the plot like it does in BotW.
But, other than that, it's an extremely, extremely effective game. Excellent art and music design; the graphics compare favorably to anything I've ever seen in an AAA game if you like this anime-inspired visual style.
I find the combat similar to single-player WoW with more interesting strategic choices (regarding party comp, etc) and less interesting tactical choices. Harder encounters are fun puzzles to solve.
While the actual story in the game is nothing we haven't seen done better before, the character interactions are an extremely interesting Chinese take on Chinese/Japanese/Western fantasy tropes. Someone could get an East Asian Studies thesis out of it fairly easily. It's amusing to "read" with that cultural commentary lens on; the localization is also surprisingly well done (including both English and Japanese, to the extent you credit me with being able to perceive that).
The metagame about how to progress as quickly as possible, and where to invest your resources / how to harvest them efficiently, also pushes my buttons very effectively.
It didn't sound horrible, because he seemed to like the gameplay, but I didn't feel any desire to get into a game where you can pay for benefit (I tend to the other end of the spectrum, repeatedly punishing deaths until you get better, like Dark Souls).
He probably spent a total of ~$80 on the game, over 4-6 months. I don't count that as too bad, as it's not much more than buying it and an expansion would cost, and it provided him a lot of entertainment. That said, the reason it as only ~$80 is because I was controlling the purse strings.
While you could of course commit to only spending $X and dealing with the results even if they're unsatisfactory, this can be surprisingly difficult psychologically, combining the best of the gambler's fallacy with the sunk cost fallacy (among many other behaviors very cleverly inspired by the game's developers) into one.
I don't mind purely cosmetic offerings being present in games, and I'll even buy a few. But if I feel like I'm competing on a field that's stratified by money, it just kills the enjoyment for me. It's the same reason I stopped playing Magic: The Gathering back in the mid nineties a few months after when it was first released. It was fun when we all had starter decks, but after friends started collecting special cards, I saw where I thought it was going an opted out. The realization just sapped a lot of the enjoyment out of the game for me.
Clearly the biggest "draw" for these sorts of games is new content, and that is a sort of sunk cost with developers who pay people to create new content so that they can monetize it.
However, when it shifts into something like an MLM scheme where an "end user" can develop new content and then deliver it through the game engine, and then the game engine owner and person who developed the content "share" in the monetization (one by game sales etc, the other by in game currencies) then games like PoE and others can grow diversity without hiring.
The incentive alignment is pretty clear, really avid players can both improve their own playing experience (enrich themselves in game) by doing this, and the game developer gets more people playing because there is such an interesting mix of things to do an see.
At some point this evolves into market exchanges where people who can conceive compelling stories find others who are skilled at art or puzzle design and they can form a group for the purposes of delivering a bit of gameplay content that they share in the rewards from.
If you are having a hard time visualizing this, consider WoW for a moment. Let's say Bliz had a way for an avid player to "design" an NPC, write their back story, their interaction dialogs, and the quests they would give in the execution of their "story". An artist teams up with this person to provide textures for either an existing character type, or potentially designing a completely new kind of creature for this. All WoW quests have a fairly fixed set of game mechanics choices to work from so putting those together in ways that are interesting might be the role of a third member of this ad-hoc group. Once completing the story line you have access to a vendor NPC who will sell you various items for WoW gold (pets, spells, recipes, etc). If the "team" that came up with this whole package got a cut of the WoW gold that the vendor received for their wares, that would provide an incentive to this team to make their content compelling. That may be all the incentive they need. And Bliz gets a quest chain + vendor + content that enhances game play for all players and keeps it fresh.
Sort of like the virtual gig economy where players add content to the game in exchange for in game currency.
 And at the time (2008) there were sites that would convert your Linden dollars back into cash.
There's have to be careful thought as to how this works, as the incentives might work out to a lopsided amount of content that maximized the thing that resulted in designer compensation.
Since the resources used aren't really an internalized cost in most cases, the NPC needs to be balanced against an idealized cost/value system that is often judgement based, meaning that a lot of work is required assessing if the designed asset is good for the system or not.
The simple example would be an NPC that if you walk up to grants you ten minutes of immunity for 1% of your wealth. Not only will something like that be extremely popular on it's own, if the designers get a percentage of the received gold, they are incentivized to make it always used. Maybe that means making it easily available almost all the time, and only taking 0.1% of wealth, so people use it even more often. But the real question is, does that break the game? The designers can be entirely motivated by profit, and not care about overall game function and health. The only way to combat this is to either carefully align incentives such as game health to function which is tricky (everyone might love the immunity boon for the first week and always profess to like it but end up playing less because of less challenge and engagement) or to have the game runners carefully assess and tweak all submitted proposals, at which point what you're getting from the public may not be worth it.
Maybe it would work if it was more just a nice kickback for contributing though. Design a module or something and submit to be accepted into core, and if it's accepted into the core you get a set amount of game currency which is predefined at certain amounts based on contribution, and a one time payout. Then the monetary incentive is to appease the game runners and provide something useful for the game, which aligns with any altruistic incentive to improve the game you're playing.
In order to support custom content creation and integration, the game needs to have a specific type of asset and tooling pipeline that can be community-driven, something that's more or less determined at the conception of the game.
I agree with you in that we do need more big studios stepping in this direction. It takes guts for these CEOs and CFOs to say to their investors "Yes we will have first-class mod support, LAN support, and give the players the tools necessary to alter the game with their creativities."
Yes they are. There are also 'total conversions' in the gaming community where a game had nearly all of its assets replaced to become a new game. The pieces are all out there, but they haven't yet combined into a single thing yet.
We often think of ideas as being these amazing things that spontaneously spring into existence, however they are more often the amalgamation of a bunch of things that have emerged on their own and then contextualized in a way that unifies them into a cohesive whole. My thinking is that distributed game economies are going to be such things.
One of the early things about WoW was the emergence of "gold farming" which exploited legitimate game tools (questing, mailing gold to other players, in game transactions) and demonstrated you could earn real money off players by selling them virtual goods. Personally, I think that was the point when game product managers said, "Hmmm, that is money we could be making" and the "freemium" model was accepted as a legit model.
They still keep 'game flow' and 'game assets' in house however, but the curated app store model has shown business people how you can let third parties make stuff and then give them a platform to sell it and skim the profits. When you combine these two models in games you get this new thing.
I remember selling 1000g for $50 USD at some point. Then a month later the average price for 1000g dropped to $15. It seemed like the price would eventually match the absolute lowest of 3rd world labor cost (until WoW tokens were introduced). So that pretty much aligns with your point of management finally giving in to the new model.
> the curated app store model has shown business people how you can let third parties make stuff and then give them a platform to sell it and skim the profits.
After being involved in both kinds of work fields (content vs platform), I can say that it's really a grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side thing. When we were making in-house contents we would think how nice being a platform is (no creativity involved, just skim off other people's success). But when we made our own platform, we often felt the insecurity of not having our own contents and people jumping ships. Plus, licensing headaches and dealing with lawyers became a norm.
The only kind of platform that doesn't have this issue is one that is a near monopoly (cough App Store). Netflix, after realizing the rise of their competitors, went to town with in-house productions and declared "Content is King".
But on the other hand, JRPGs tend to not get major updates, and are now taking 3-5+ years per game to meat that criteria. Unlike fighting games, you can't make meaningful character DLC post release that would mesh into the game. The very closest I've seen to this in modern times is Kingdom Hearts' 3 DLC letting you play as 2 additional characters... for one specific boss fight each out of a ~5 hour DLC of a 30-40 hour game.
Meanwhile, new characters, events, and areas drop monthly for Genshin. Without a direct subscription cost if you treat the game as a JRPG with some 4-5 playable characters gotten in story (which is average for a modern JRPG) and ignore the new characters other JRPGs don't have the option for. There are some very niche benefits and workaround of issues most JRPGs have today in Genshin.
I don't really have much of a point here. Just rambling on some musings that I wish console JRPGs could take lessons from. I guess I just miss those days where is didn't feel like Final Fantasy (and ONLY FF) was the only big JRPG in town pushing graphical boundaries, and Genshin gave me some of those vibes. Moreso than any JRPG in the 2010's outside of FF and KH. Tales of Arise coming in a few weeks gives me some hopes, but I want to hope this isn't just a one-off fluke in the genre.
First going in I thought I would be playing with friends and fighting bosses. Now I've been told not to do that because you don't want friends stealing your chests. Maybe I'm doing things wrong.
And the non-BoTW elements are bad too. The 'strategic' choices in combat involve knowing what you're going to fight, matching your elements to that as best you can (oh, by the way, the two guaranteed free fire element characters are awful at actually delivering fire damage, so hope you gacha-ed one of the good ones if you need fire element). Where's the interesting strategy there? And then the actual fight is just spamming your attacks and rapid-fire switching characters so the elemental effects stack. Also, quite likely you're fighting a boss design that is literally a cube (there are multiple of these).
The 'meta-game' is knowing which bosses/domains/whatever you're going to grind x times today to maximise the chances of dropping one of the hundreds of materials you need to level up whichever character/weapon/skill you're targeting at this point. It's not exactly complex, the game tells you what drops you can expect. It's just a tedious grind, and it's cynically designed to keep you coming back to the game day after day (for people who haven't played: you can only grind these bosses/domains x times per day, and it doesn't take long before grinding up the materials you need to level up something requires multiple days of this grind. You can, of course, pay IRL money to grind a few more times in a given day. Oh, and you can only grind certain things on certain days of the week. So monday you're grinding for a weapon upgrade, tuesday for a skill upgrade, etc. It's incredibly obvious manipulation.)
And then after all that, the game levels up the world as you progress. You start out the game hitting level 10 hillichurls with your sword 5 times to kill them. After hours of playtime and leveling up and forging advanced weapons, you're now hitting level 60 hillichurls with your sword 5 times to kill them. Wow!
I am sorry to say this as someone who usually agrees with 'patio11 on everything, but both gacha and the "monetization strategies" inspired by it (be they hawking in-game currency or trying to mine email addresses) sound like a terrible idea.
I don't want gacha, or any of these monetization strategies in my ideal consumption model. I want to look at a toy in the store and buy it while knowing what I am getting. This gacha model sounds like it's incentivizing gambling from a very young age.
Am I too close-minded? Idealistic? Missing some crucial part of the article? I'd like to hear, because nothing seems good about this at the moment.
One of the conclusions reached is that the amount of money a game like Genshin Impact can make over time can fund development far in excess of what a traditional shipped-and-finished game could afford (even with expansions/etc). This improves the experience for everyone, > 90% of whom don't pay for the game at all. It seems like a win to me. It just requires a change of mindset: enjoying the game while accepting that your in-game resources are limited and "completion" is impossible.
This relies on 2 premises that I find very unlikely. That A) the additional funding is actually spent on improving the game and B) that this doesn't create a downward pressure on the games industry that essentially all games race to the bottom for whales, draining all possible investment funds and crowding out genuinely good games that would be designed by people who genuinely love games instead of being designed by addiction psychologists.
Developers are actually incentivised to continue to add content to the game as much as possible, lest the whales get bored and move to something else. Genshin impact has seen many updates which add entire new regions to the map, complete with quests and new characters. This isn't something BoTW would ever be able to justify.
> all games race to the bottom for whales ... crowding out genuinely good games
I don't think these are mutually exclusive. Whales are also people and also enjoy playing good games. Genshin Impact is a good game by any measure. Its gameplay and core game loop were clearly designed by people who love games. The fact that characters and items are unlocked using a gacha system doesn't take away from this.
Content designed for people with gambling and hoarding addictions, not content designed to be good.
> Whales are also people and also enjoy playing good games.
There are really objectively shitty games with 4+ stars on the Play Store. "People enjoy casinos" seals the coffin in the gaming industry as far as I see it.
I find that this setup generates a compulsion in me to spend money for "one more roll". And while I've never been to a real casino, this resembles accounts of gambling addiction. At a minimum, these games should be rated 18+. There's no way it's healthy for kids to be exposed to mechanics that amount to unregulated gambling before they've even developed some modicum of self control.
As a parent, I probably wouldn't encourage my children to play either WoW or Genshin Impact or similar until I had a strong bead on their level of self-regulation capacity.
I have no doubt this model is much more lucrative but it feels like there is a slot machine standing in the way of what is otherwise a very impressive fusion of different ARPG ideas.
It's even worse than that. You can only earn a relatively small amount of gatcha currency in-game. Once you've exhausted that pool for a given patch, no amount of grinding will get you more and the only way to "pull the lever" is with real money.
debatable. Maybe not with Civ specifically, but I remember huge scares in the MMO days over some people literally playing themselves to death from malnourishment. In particular this was targeted towards dedicated gaming cafes in Korea from what I remember. Addiction can be just as deadly even if it "only costs $10/month"
I imagine it's more common than expected, mmo's have just become "more accepted" over time as it acclimated into society.
I don't disagree but TCGs are basically unregulated gambling for kids and it has been the case for several decades.
On the customer side, who the hell wants this stuff?
I don't think anyone "wants" to pay for this kinda stuff. But many have.
I like having a single place that my payment info is stored and processed, and I trust Apple with it. With this new world order everyone and their dog is going to be asking for my credit card details and who knows how well or safely it is going to be handled/stored.
For small purchases I really don't want to have to enter my credit card details.
On top of that, many may not bother at all. setting up a payment vendor isn't trivial. Some may be happy to let apple keep 30% of the gravy for that convienence.
I'm much more concerned about monopolistic behavior. The solution to payment security isn't to choose one company and make them the gatekeeper.
So if there is credit card fraud, and I have to get a new card number, I end up having to remember the 10+ places it is used and update them before I find out because my water is turned off (for example).
I have ADHD, I already have enough on my mind, I don't need to add additional complexity or burden to it.
If Apple was not the sole payment provider on the App Store, that same open Internet-like situation would emerge where these payment processors would compete with each other on features, convenience, and merchant fees.
Instead, we're left with Apple's App Store payment monopoly where they charge up to 30% just for payment processing while the industry-standard rate in the rest of the payment world is more like 2.5%.
Apple's rationale for this huge fee is that the App Store isn't just a payment processor, it's like a "retailer" or a "storefront" – therefore, a larger cut of the sales is entirely justified, and in their mind reasonable. You'd thank your lucky stars if Walmart ever agreed to give you 70% of the retail price to sell your toaster on their shelves.
I think that rationale falls apart when you're talking about the App Store as the only way to install applications on an operating system that's part of a duopoly of general purpose computing that's a near-necessity for modern living with no serious alternative (which is the major distinction between the Apple App Store and other closed software ecosystems like game consoles).
To me, you're overstating the inconvenience of the off-App Store experience. For one thing, important things like your water bill or rent payment don't go through Apple's App Store payment processing system in the first place, so I don't see how allowing the kind of subscriptions offered on the App Store to lapse is any sort of problem.
You don't have to run around and update payment in 10 places, you can just let them expire on their own and these subscription services will just contact you asking to turn the money spigot back on.
For example, my YouTube Premium subscription's payment method failed recently and they just emailed me to tell me about it. They didn't even cut off service. In other words, it wasn't hard, it wasn't painful.
YouTube Premium is a great example because it's a product that costs 30% more if you decide to pay for it through the App Store. I can't see how the convenience of centralized payment is worth a 30% price hike for any service. My 5 minutes of inconvenience every time my credit card numbers change/expire (once every 2-5 years maybe?) saved me $65 annualized.
> After you authenticate your transaction, the Secure Element provides your Device Account Number and a transaction-specific dynamic security code to the store’s point of sale terminal along with additional information needed to complete the transaction. Again, neither Apple nor your device sends your actual payment card number. Before they approve the payment, your bank, card issuer, or payment network can verify your payment information by checking the dynamic security code to make sure that it’s unique and tied to your device.
> Like with in-store payments, Apple sends your Device Account Number to the app or website along with the transaction-specific dynamic security code. Neither Apple nor your device sends your actual payment card number to the app.
Note that this can be prefaced by 'usually' - some banks, instead of generating a new unique ID for Apple Pay, will use the CC number itself, or will at least augment the device ID with the payment card (I noticed this as receipts showed the last 4 of the card, despite using Apple Pay).
I find it pretty disingenuous to put this in the footnote and brush it off as "not having enough space", and then went on to justify it with an opinion from someone who clearly has stake in this space.
Equating whales with professionals is just completely missing the point, and is simply marketing speech that masks the underlying problem.
A lot of mechanisms in Gacha games are engineered dark patterns whose sole purpose is to make money. They are basically there to exploit those who are psychologically more susceptible.
It's ironic that the author uses Genshin Impact as an example and then went on to say something about spending more money in Gacha game is a reflection of professionalism. In Genshin Impact you can power up A LOT by spending money on Gacha because you can get substantially better equipment that is otherwise unavailable through normal game play, or you can power up your existing characters, too. Can someone instantly become better at skating with a better pair of skates?
Ditch app stores, fully integrate the web as a platform, then bake Apple/Google pay into the browser/OS, and just be the payment processor for all transactions.
This would also make it much easier for web developers to fetch payments from their apps, no third party API needed. The boost in volume from this factor alone should be considerable.
For users, clicking a link is much easier than installing an app.
Once app creators have options for customer relationships other than Apple's app store, I expect that we'll find out exactly how valuable that autonomy is to customers, and I'm personally fascinated about what the answer might be.
When I have to give my email out - to sign up for a service, or make a one time purchase online for the receipt etc, Apple provides the option to use a unique anonymized email alias that forwards to my iCloud account.
When I want to unsubscribe from any of these services, I control it directly and can just delete email alias for that service instead of going through unsubscribe flows which don't seem to work half the time.
I love using Apple Pay for a similar reason. It has that, it just works, quality, especially when ordering packages.
There's absolutely zero friction and never any fixing of incorrect auto filled forms. I get the same experience everywhere and its always seamless.
I always thought this should be the credit card company's responsibility. High-end credit cards like AMEX and Chase Sapphire already have so many cushy perks, what's so hard about also adding something like "We'll guarantee you can 1-click unsubscribe from anything <=$30 month and underwrite any risk of these going to collections"?
Here's a quote from the new policy:
> Developers cannot use information obtained within the app to target individual users outside of the app to use purchasing methods other than in-app purchase (such as sending an individual user an email about other purchasing methods after that individual signs up for an account within the app). Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.
tl;dr Apple will be more generous in allowing developers to message their customers about payment options outside the app. This is a big deal for virtual game economies (and others!) because now Epic can email/message you about a fortnite vbuck bundle sold from their website, where epic can pay their payment provider, say, 3% plus $0.25 for a $10 transaction rather than the 30% App Store fee, saving $2.45!
The revenant Apple text:
> To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.
Very exciting stuff, and Patrick is right that this messaging will be rolled out quickly by games and others.
Agreed. I had to read it more than twice to get what he was talking about. I'd say that the the only reason I bothered is that I usually like patio11's insights so I figured it was worth trying to understand it.
Since I'm not a gamer, I got distracted trying to understand a lot of the game stuff and why it was so relevant to what he was getting at.
ps, I like your tl;dr :-)