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CD Projekt Red feels developers should focus more on the player and less on the loot box

By Cal Jeffrey · 17 replies
Feb 19, 2018
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  1. Loot boxes earned a lot of headlines in 2017. Most of them revolved around their contentious nature and player backlash over one game or another’s implementation of the controversial feature. PC Gamer recently interviewed CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwiński who says he feels the wave of complaining players is good for the industry.

    "The moment they [gamers] feel you are reaching out for their wallet in any unfair way, they will be vocal about it. And - frankly speaking - I think it's good for the industry,” said Iwiński.

    Indeed, player backlash led to changes in many developers' microtransaction models and loot box policies.

    Electronic Arts was probably the hardest hit by angry gamers as it watched its shares lose $3 billion in valuation in November 2017 alone. Of course, this is because EA tends to overuse MT and loot boxes in all of its titles. Star Wars: Battlefront II and Need For Speed: Payback both saw changes to their microtransactions over player outrage.

    “It wasn’t just the hardcore community, there were a lot of really pissed off gamers out there, and they decided to speak up,” said Iwiński. “Where we [CDPR] stand is quite simple, and you could see it with all of our past releases—most recently The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and GWENT. If you buy a full priced game, you should get a big, polished piece of content, which gives you many, many hours of fun gameplay.”

    The developers at CD Projekt Red feel a $60 game should deliver $60 worth of gameplay. Iwiński admits this can vary from game to game but thinks that 50-60 hours of gameplay on the main storyline and another 100-200 hours dealing with side quests and 100 percent completion events is a fair expectation for AAA titles.

    “To me, this is a fair deal. You get what you paid for.”

    Iwiński also distinguishes between what CDPR calls "expansions" and DLC. Expansions are additional stories that add meaningful value to the game with several hours of new gameplay and should be priced fairly. Conversely, DLCs are “small pieces of content which should be available for free.”

    Free-to-play titles have a little more reason to leverage microtransactions and loot boxes since that is how the developers make money from the title. Even still, Iwiński maintains that games must not go down a pay-to-win path. Developers must keep in mind that MTs should not give paying players items that the free player cannot get over time. The trade-off here is time spent earning something versus paying for the convenience of getting it earlier.

    “Here we have GWENT, where you can buy card kegs and some vanity items. Again, the deal is simple—you can play the game for free and craft your desired card collection this way, or decide to spend money and get card kegs. The choice is yours, and the only thing you pay for is time and convenience.”

    The bottom line is that developers have a responsibility to be transparent with players about what they are getting. Transparency means publishing odds of getting items in free loot boxes versus paid, among other things.

    Iwiński's views and insights into the studio’s philosophies regarding microtransactions and loot boxes are a welcome reassurance that when Cyberpunk 2077 finally arrives, we will be treated to a game that provides value for our hard-earned dollar rather than a game that continually nags us for more.

    Permalink to story.

  2. RaXoR

    RaXoR TS Addict Posts: 136   +95

    Good guy CDPR
    ypsylon, Agnomen, davejonnes and 2 others like this.
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,783   +3,168

    I'd easily pay $100 for a CD Project Red game. They are honestly worth it.
    Stark, ypsylon, davejonnes and 6 others like this.
  4. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Evangelist Posts: 611   +230

    Someone send this over to the morons over at Pubg Corp. maybe theyll get an idea. Their crates are whats causing all the cheating as its dealing with real money. To many ppl are farming for crates which in turn is leading to cheating as that gets them the bp faster. Faster you get a crate, the more money items are typically worth, espeically if they are special/rare items.
    Stop crates from dealing with real money, a lot of the cheating stops as their is no money to make but of course this also hurts the dev. But its their *****ic way of doing the crates which has caused all this mess in the first place.
  5. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 598   +1,201

    I'd take that one step further and say pay2degrind / pay2unlock / "time-savers" (which is exactly what the above is) is still a huge negative for gamers as it actively incentivises designing the games to be more artificially grindier than if the MT-purchase option wasn't there at all. So even if they don't use it, players still experience the negative "grind-fest" design consequences of this stuff. "You don't have to buy it and it won't affect you" is a stunningly naive excuse that's long been debunked. If the gameplay is changed even 1% to accommodate MT's, then it affects everyone.

    "But... but... but no free-to-play or micro-transactions means fewer games!" Fine by me. We'd genuinely be better off going back to fewer but higher quality releases. F2P MOBA's like DOTA2 would still exist, they'd just either be priced a reasonable $15-$20 on release similar to games like Torchlight, or be sold as an expansion pack to whatever game they originally spun-off from. Hardly any of the most played titles are original ideas that would not exist without MT's (DOTA = Warcraft 3 community mod, Counter Strike = Half-Life mod, PUBG = ARMA3 mod, etc).
    BMAN61 likes this.
  6. GreyFoxx

    GreyFoxx TS Booster Posts: 95   +63

    Loot-Crates = Cancer.

    The sooner they are cut from games, the better.
    ypsylon, Jamlad and BSim500 like this.
  7. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,424   +1,425

    While I agree with the annoyance of micro-transactions, I don't think it's realistic to expect them to vanish... while the "time-saver" micro-transactions may give developers incentives to make the game "more grindy", if the game isn't fun to grind in, maybe it shouldn't be played at all...
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  8. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,645   +304

    Perhaps. But not fine for the developers, and certainly doesn't mean the fewer games will be better.
  9. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 651   +484

    "The choice is yours, and the only thing you pay for is time and convenience."

    STILL disgusted. Previous games gave this away for FREE. They are called cheat codes!!! Talk about reaching into our wallet.... My my how developers have changed because of the love of money.
    BSim500 likes this.
  10. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 175   +47

    Publishers should be charging more for their games. Games have been $60 since 2005 and have not kept up with inflation. Games are more affordable now than they ever have been. Games should be $70 or $75 (maybe more). When we were in the Xbox/PS2 era, games were $50 then with Xbox 360/PS3 the price went up to $60. When we entered the Xbox One/PS4 era it seems all the publishers forgot to charge more for their games despite increased development costs.

    If they would just charge what they think the game is worth, then I don't think we would really be in this position or it wouldn't be nearly as bad (might be wishful thinking...). They just need to have the cajones to say this game is going to cost you $75 and here is why (200+ hour experience, no loot crates, periodic DLC/expansions, etc.). Some gamers will balk at that, but I think more would appreciate the untainted and honest experience.

    When we buy any other goods or services, some things cost more than others. Usually you get what you pay for. I don't know why games are any different. Not every game is created equal. Some deliver a much better experience than others and they should be priced accordingly.

    If publishers were making an additional $10-15 on every games, it might be enough to get them to stop trying to reach into our wallets so much with loot boxes and DLC. Unfortunately, I think the toothpaste is out of the tube on this one. There might be no going back.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  11. RaXoR

    RaXoR TS Addict Posts: 136   +95

    That's fundamentally incorrect. You seem to forget that almost the majority of the price the consumer pays goes towards manufacturing, packaging, shipping and stocking the physical copies. With the popularity of digital sales increasing, the publishers are seeing a surge in profits. That's because they are still charging the same amount of money while cutting out the production of physical copies. Games shouldn't cost more than $60, it would be senseless.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  12. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 175   +47

    It only costs them like $3-4 to make a physical copy and the retailer (Best Buy or Target) get like $8-10 per game. While a digital copy obviously doesn't have manufacturing costs, they instead have the cost and fees of having their game hosted and distributed on Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Steam, etc, storefront servers. This storefront is no different that Best Buy, so they are still getting their $8-10 cut too. I wouldn't doubt that digital games make publishers a tiny bit more, but I really don't think it's as much as you believe. They still have costs and fees on the digital game that you may not realize.

    If you break it down further for the average $60 AAA game, in addition to the previously mentioned costs and fees, $12 goes to the console maker just for the privilege of having it on the platform, $9+ for marketing, $18 goes to the publisher, and $9 goes to the developer (the one who actually make the game). Whatever little profit difference there is between digital and physical is not enough to still only be charging $60. $70 or $75 should be the cost regardless if it is digital or physical.
  13. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,424   +1,425

    If they thought they could get away with charging $75, they would.... They obviously disagree with your logic... or your math... Unless you're arguing that Video Game designers are all altruistic and are willing to make less money so that we all get to enjoy the fruits of their labours?
    RaXoR likes this.
  14. Kevin82485

    Kevin82485 TS Booster Posts: 175   +47

    Well it is quite apparent that they don't think they can get away with it over fear of gamer outrage. But recent trends in gaming show that they do in fact agree with my logic and math because instead of a normal, full experience $60 game (like one you may have played as little as 3-4 years ago), we are now instead getting a $60 plus paid loot boxes and pay to win mechanics game to offset the fact that they didn't charge you $70-75 to begin with. $60 is not sustainable without paid loot boxes and pay to win mechanics or sacrificing the quality of a game to release it quickly.

    What I'm saying is that at the start of this generation, AAA games should have had a price bump similar to the previous generation and should have been priced at $70-75. If this had happened, we may not have been in this situation with loot boxes and seeking government intervention to put a stop to it. To be clear, what I don't want is a normal, full experience $75 game and still having to deal with loot boxes. I want the full game at the price it really should be, not a $60 game with price boobytraps. If they want $75 from me, then just friggin' charge me $75 for it so I can get the full game.

    Games cost way more to develop now than they did 13 years ago. Development teams are much larger and salaries are higher. It costs about $10,000 per person per month to make a AAA game (https://kotaku.com/why-video-games-cost-so-much-to-make-1818508211). It doesn't make sense that even though cost to develop has skyrocketed that the retail price has remained stagnant. Like I've already said a couple times, to offset this we get shitty loot boxes in our games that cost some of us more money (some people sink thousands of dollars into the loot box games) and ruin our experience.
    BMAN61 likes this.
  15. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 651   +484

    You sound like a developer who loves money more than customers. If you feel like you should be paying more for games, then by all means give it to them.

    $60 has always been overpriced for games. You think they should be higher? You realize the game industry makes more than the movie industry, right? Even today, and especially with all of these broken games they throw at us. $40 is a real stretch. Loot box games won't get a dime from me. I won't fall into these loot box gambling schemes they prey on kids with, and adults with addiction issues. Why do you think so many people wait for sales and price drops? Because they feel the game isn't worth the money. But you feel they should still pay $75 even 10 years later (you didn't specify time, but yet time doesn't matter with money). I find myself to the point I don't even want to play games any more.
    RaXoR and BMAN61 like this.
  16. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,640   +397

    ^^ That right there.
  17. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,783   +3,168

    I think the price should really change based on the game. A $60 cost across the board just opens up all kinds of shenanigans. For example, I haven't played an EA game since ME2 that was actually worth that $60. Really, most EA games coming out now are worth $0-10. If they are adding Micro-transactions, they are essentially a mobile game and should be priced like one. On the other hand you have games like the Witcher 3, where game has 200+ hours of well polished content. And by that I don't mean filler like what Dragon Age Inquisition was loaded with. There is an extremely clear difference in the effort put into certain games.
  18. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,424   +1,425

    That would be ideal... but alas, not very realistic... what game developer is going to admit that their game is crap and only charge you $10 for it?

    Imagine if they had that for movie tickets... Here's Black Panther - we put in several hundred million dollars, cast incredible actors, etc... cost of theatre ticket: $15

    Here's Marine 5 - we spent practically nothing, cast a WWE wrestler and a bunch of nobodies... cost: 2$

    Of course, maybe that way I'd actually go and see Marine 5... suspect I'd want my $2 back...

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