Multiplayer-only games shouldn't cost $60

By Julio Franco · 29 replies
Jan 7, 2016
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  1. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Rainbow Six Siege. It’s really good, but I’m not feeling very optimistic about its long-term prospects.

    Siege, like any multiplayer game, will only thrive if it can form a lasting community of players. My pessimism regarding its chances to do so is the same pessimism that was eventually borne out by similar games like Titanfall and Evolve. It’s also the same pessimism I feel about Star Wars: Battlefront, to an extent.

    All of those games launched at a traditional big-budget video game price point of $60. Like the other ones, Rainbow Six Siege—despite having an invisible wood splinter of a single-player component—is mostly a competitive multiplayer game.

    Old-school publishers like Ubisoft, EA, and 2K are employing a distinctly old-fashioned way of doing things, especially in this era of free-to-play multiplayer juggernauts like League of Legends and DOTA 2—or even $15 content-stuffed shooters like Counter-Strike. In the long run, the $60 price point doesn’t help publishers or the players they’re catering to. It stops communities from growing, which makes it damn hard to build anything that’ll last.

    Meanwhile, other big-budget games offer rich (or at least existent) single-player experiences in addition to rich (or at least existent) multiplayer options. See: Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted, and even some online games like Destiny or various MMOs.

    The problem with approaching multiplayer games in this way tends to compound on itself. Because of those initial price barriers, games’ communities crawl out the gate small and emaciated. When new players decide to see what the (sadly minimal) fuss is about, they have trouble finding matches to play in—especially as time goes on, and especially against players of their own skill level. So, even curious newcomers don’t stick around long.

    On top of that, the $60 entry fee is usually only the beginning. Lately, publishers have been trying to get the best of both the old-school single-transaction retail world and the brave new microtransaction world, and the result can feel like a raw ****ing deal. Let’s look at Star Wars Battlefront. It’s an almost-multiplayer-only game that launched at $60, and it’s got a $50 season pass attached to that like a Snowspeeder cable to a pair of clumsy AT-AT legs. $110 for a single game, up front? That’s a hell of a commitment, given that the servers could be ghost towns by next June.

    Same thing with Rainbow Six: $60 for the game, and $30 for a season pass, along with an (optional) money-based unlock system. On top of the added cost, season passes often gate portions of the community from playing on certain maps, fragmenting already shrinking player bases and making it harder to find matches. Wanna keep up with what the community’s playing? Better get ready to spend, spend, spend, and even then, your next multiplayer lobby could be barren

    The downsides to this approach (still) don’t end there. In a free-to-play “games as service” environment like, say, League of Legends, at least the stuff you buy is yours to keep—well, until the servers forever shutdown or the sun explodes, anyway. In many $60 triple-A series, there’s a solid chance a sequel will drop in a year or two, requiring you to a) lose your precious progress and start mostly from square one, b) spend $60 again, and c) pony up for another one of those damn season passes.

    I’m not saying that DLC is inherently bad; far from it. The practice of selling post-release content—the rain of DLC, season passes, and microtransactions—can be crucial to the ongoing funding of big game studios. But by holding to outdated methods of releasing games and selling DLC, and in particular by sticking with that $60 price of admission, publishers risk doing serious harm to the long-term viability of their multiplayer-only games. That really sucks. I want more people to play Rainbow Six Siege with me, but I’m already finding it hard to convince them.

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    They should charge between $1 to $5 for the right to download a multi-player-only game, and then charge for the time actually played. Perhaps the best option would be to charge $5 with the right to play, say 10 hours in multi-player mode, and then charge for extra time.

    This would pull in lots people who only interested to try the game, not to form a long-term relationship with it.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
    Reehahs likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,346   +1,987

    Multi-player options are cool and I'm all for them, but I wish there was a simpler way to sub-divide the groups so the old folks that can't write scripts and hit the keys 1,000 times a second, can still participate without being driven away by the younger, faster, less courtious players.

    Also ... and I could be entirely wrong about this, it seems that once a game has gone the multi-player route, the concentration is entirely on new maps and features for the multi-players and the single players become the game step children. The multi-player universe is a lot of fun, but it could be so much more if there was more effort into creating raking systems that separated (if they so desired) the fast from the slow players so everyone got the same opportunities.
    Reehahs likes this.
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    The $60 price tag isn't why it's difficult to get people into Rainbow Six: Siege. People these days prefer (as evidenced by sales), run & gun twitch shooters, which RSS is anything but.

    Evolve has the same problem: it's a great game concept that does not resonate with many people due to the inherent features (and flaws) of its design.

    Even the Killzone franchise has had difficulty due to its core design (specifically, "weight"), and the first three entries had substantial single player campaigns.

    Yet, CoD, as horribly trite and boring as it is, manages to consistently pull users in spite of its $60 price tag.

    Destiny, as mediocre as it is, manages to consistently pull users in spite of its $60 price tag.

    Do they have single player? Sure. But the vast majority of playtime is spent in the multiplayer, not the single player (just look at all the Iron Banner gear roaming around Destiny).

    I'd like to see cheaper games and more bang for the buck, too. It seems you can only get that out of indie devs these days. But it isn't price that's keeping people away from (primarily) multiplayer titles, it's the games themselves.
    Edito and Geforcepat like this.
  5. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 356   +203

    No game these days should cost 60 bucks, period. Messy, bugged, with underdeveloped scripts and over half a budget goes into marketing departement. There are some exceptions, but they are just that - exceptions.
    Reehahs, H3llion and ikesmasher like this.
  6. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    They already have that: clans. Though, doing away with random match making and bringing back custom rooms and regional servers would go a long way to bringing back balanced matches.
  7. FF222

    FF222 TS Booster Posts: 93   +33

    Everything costs as much as people are willing to pay for it. As long as there are hundreds of millions of kids out there whose parents rather shell out $60 for a mediocre game that keeps their children busy instead of having to actually talk to them and raise them, games will cost exactly that much.
    Adhmuz, Arris, BMfan and 1 other person like this.
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    except the majority of gamers are not kids. They are adults who buy their own games.

    You're right though that people aren't willing to pay for them. Not when there are so many free multiplayer games out there. Also the history of multiplayer was that it was a free add-on. One of the first big ones was Halo, and Halo was a campaign game that had a multiplayer mode. Back before there were matchmaking servers and ladders to balance skill and handle loads multiplayer was never a selling point for the game.

    When multiplayer got big, it also got free. Studios didn't need to build AI or maps when you could fight other players and their maps, so games could be sold for less.

    Sounds like Rainbow Six is trying to straddle the campaign/multiplayer genres by taking the best of both (low dev costs + high price tag). That usually doesn't work.
  9. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    Gaming has been dead to me for the last couple of years because of these extortion prices to play a game I'll probably not even enjoy. The early 2000s we're the hay days of gaming, just before the idea of paid for DLC started to rear it's ugly head. Then came the micro-transactions and I said enough, this is no longer enjoyable for me.

    Then Destiny was the final nail in the coffin, that game demonstrated how little content a game needs to have to still charge full price, then they add a small DLCs every couple of months, one of which was base content removed before launch just to be a paid for DLC. Don't forget to mention the horrible loot system, "raid" system and lack of competent players made it a terrible grind for absolutely nothing at the end of the day.

    Even a subscription based system for an online only FPS seems harsh given how little you actually get out of the games these days. I still don't see what anyone sees in the CoD franchise since the late 2010s, they've been pure garbage for the last 6 years at least, yet every year a new one gets released and people flock to it in droves. It's what's killing the industry single handily by showing other developers that the CoD sheople have no sense and are all too willing handing over their money for a rehash of last years game, so why be innovative? Just charge more and give people less until they stop buying into your franchise? It's absolutely despicable.
  10. Billybobjoey

    Billybobjoey TS Member Posts: 20   +13

    If I remember rightly, about Rainbow Six Siege, they're releasing the maps and Operators for free, season pass owners just get the Operators a week early (and possibly free, can't remember), and they get the skins associated with the DLC for free as well, while others will have to spend either Renown or R6 Credits to get them.
  11. Forebode

    Forebode TS Booster Posts: 128   +20

    Correct. If you want to see a change in price, don't keep buying stuff only to possibly complain about the price in 3-6 months as the player base drops off. Perhaps Multiplayer installment games should enact something similar to MMO's. A cost upfront to get the game for a set amount of time based on an account. Add maps/guns/whatever either with installments on top or continue a monthly fee. When its time to make part 7, make it an expansion addon to part 6 for diminished cost or full price for new user.

    Considering inflation and demand of an infinite resource, I would have thought games are pretty cheap by today's standards. Maybe multiplayer games costing $60 is perfectly fine and games that rely on non multiplayer content should be that of $90+
  12. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    Good point. When inflation adjusted, games are actually cheaper compared to their 90s counterparts. The reason the price is felt more now is that household margins (cash inflows/cash outflows) are slimmer these days.
  13. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Evangelist Posts: 302   +108

    I really want to play Rainbow Six Siege, but it seems that I have to pay way more than 60 USD to enjoy the game in the long term, the same happens to Star Wars, really expansive games if you look the content they offer.
  14. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,041   +678

    I think the opposite. I mean who is going to put even 20 hours into a game with a 6 hour campaign?

    Multiplayer games still get DLC, you can chat with friends, and there technically is no end.
  15. emmzo

    emmzo TS Booster Posts: 142   +37

    I don`t get all the whining about prices and "it stops communities from growing, which makes it damn hard to build anything that’ll last." Why should anything last if is not viable? How is a 60$ game not helping publishers in the long run? A 20$ would? How? They`ll get more gamers? Really? I personally think Titanfall sucks. Would I buy it at 20$? No. I like Bf4 and I bought Premium, which means all the dlcs. I paid something like 80 euros and have played hundreds of hours, more than any SP game I had played in the later years. So not only it paid off for me, but because it`s a good game, there are a lot of active servers and the community is growing.
    Why should one pay 60$ on Battlefront and play it for ... half a year? At the minimum? C`mon...
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,726   +3,700

    Micro-managed after buying the game, thanks for the warning. I'll ignore micro-management in a free-to-play game if possible. Micro-management in a paid game, I'll ignore the game and find something else.
  17. Al Rod

    Al Rod TS Rookie

    I’m not saying that DLC is inherently bad; far from it. The practice of selling post-release content—the rain of DLC, season passes, and microtransactions—can be crucial to the ongoing funding of big game studios.

    This comment is my biggest issue with the DLC era. When did the game studios become so large that they need to rely on tricking customers out of money for there survival? I hate bringing him up, but I have to agree at time with Jim Sterling and his skepticism of the gamin industry elites, it feels like no longer it is about making a great game, but all about how do we **** over the consumer out of more money.
    BlueDrake likes this.
  18. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    This is something I've seen BF4 suffer from. All the metaphoric gates put up due to map packs. So to find a 64 player server that's near full on conquest is harder now than it ever was before. It just splits up the community, and that's something that really bothers me because in the quest for profit, longevity is killed (which itself may be a better profit source than DLC gate packs).

    I did like what Bohemia Studios did with ARMA 2 (not Arrowhead, but the miscellaneous packs). Rather than locking everything behind a pay wall and splitting the community up, everyone could use stuff from the DLC in limited quantities, or with horrid looking textures and meshes. I believe this is a good route for publishers to look at since they get their profit, and longevity is still preserved.
  19. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 174   +70

    I think doing this would ultimately push more people away from the game. I think the system should just be simple. $60 for a game that has both single and multiplayer, or for a game with a deep lengthy single player. Then $30 for a game that is purely multiplayer. In my opinion games that are only multiplayer are just half of what a game could be. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of multiplayer games out there that are fantastic at just being that. But at a $60 price point, you're selling a pretty hard bargain for just one side of the spectrum. Of course this pricing has to be somewhat flexible. I wouldn't pay $30 for a game like Minecraft.
  20. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 174   +70

    One last thing. Paying that amount of money for that little bit of game time would be absolutely stealing from gamers. You can pay $14 to play your average MMO for an entire month and they offer much deeper gameplay. If they were to do that with shooter games, it would drive sales crashing into oblivion.
  21. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 253   +126

    This is a ridiculous idea. Just do what Valve does with Counter-Strike. Sell the game at $15, put it on sale a lot and also sell skins.
  22. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 253   +126

    Why would you not pay $30 for something that could give hundreds of hours of entertainment? I understand that you may not like the game, but even at $30 Minecraft would still be reasonably priced.
  23. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    So for the sake of an argument, let's say, I'm really good at writing about ridiculous ideas. What are you good at?


    Back at ya, punk!
  24. digidoggie18

    digidoggie18 TS Rookie

    I fully agree with this. I think right around 97- mid 2000's was the perfect time for it. Now these days most games release day one with game breaking glitches mainly due to the piracy protection junk they put into them. Then you have the COD and Asassins creed series which release either every year or every month that come with their game breaking glitches (think Unity) I do agree that Destiny was the nail in the coffin as well. Each game I purchase keeps feeling less and less enjoyable. I even tried to get into destiny but multiplayers are all the same thing kill this, kill that, collect 10 of these collect 10 of that. Destiny didn't even have any sort of storyline nor background story. Honestly I have found bungie games to be horrid in general as I always felt los tin them wondering why the hell I was doing something and why I was doing it. Most games that release these days are not even close to worth it. 80% of the time I will pirate it just to test it and if I don't like it the first couple hours, I will delete it and not attempt to purchase it however, If I like it I go out and buy it for Playstation.
  25. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 174   +70

    I dunno, I guess I've never been much of a Minecraft guy. I've played it several times only to get kind of bored after about an hour of playing. I guess for some it could be reasonable, but if I had to pay $30 for it, I probably never would have tried it. I guess the only real reason I bought it in the first place was because I have a girlfriend who likes it. It was just never appealing to me. I guess in one sense, had I liked it, $30 would be reasonable.
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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