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The business of gaming: nickels, dimes, and quarters

By Julio Franco · 43 replies
Mar 6, 2013
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  1. The video game industry is just that. An industry. Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you’re welcome to spend your money on whatever you please… or to refrain from...

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  2. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,230   +229

    (There is something wrong with the picture of Cliff holding a (replica of a) gun. his trigger finger is "on")

    On topic, what if I like the game but I don't like the sales technique? Shall I take my case to brother torrent?

    What if the gaming companies insist on an always online method even if the mode I am in is solo/campaign? Would they refund my money even if the online play is always interrupted by "maintenance modes"?

    Would I just continue my rant against deaf entities, or be a sheep and be done with my complaints?
    A9821, havok585, PC EliTiST and 2 others like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 Inquisitor Posts: 4,487   +3,481

    Great article. Unfortunately, the vocal minority is too daft to comprehend anything from such a macro perspective.
  4. Littleczr

    Littleczr TS Addict Posts: 439   +84

    Its understood that its is a business. But there are ways to do business with out being greedy. Greed is ugly and once it becomes evident it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is being greedy.

    The truth is that companies like EA want to squeeze the last penny out of your pocket. Which is what irritates most people.
    On the other hand when you have companies that are really passionate about what they do then the end result is self evident. When this happens they do not have to worry about money because people will see the value and just toss wads of cash on their face. It is a beautiful way to do business that only a few companies grasp this model. Maybe VALVE And BLIZZARD only work this way.
    havok585 likes this.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,160   +3,259

    I do vote with my dollars and keep them in my pocket. You know as well as I do, that doesn't change a thing. My vote is too small to count, when there are millions of others willing to spend a small fortune. And thats not even mentioning the few that are spending huge fortunes.
  6. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    This article is soo bought by EA I mean who would say companies like EA and Activision aren't greedy? these 2 companies are the ONLY companies I can see on the market milking everyone for there hard earned cash.

    They bring out games that look good but in reality are terrible like the CoD franchise it was good up till CoD 5 I would say now look black ops 2... worst game I have seen and it keeps getting worse yet its got a big price tag for copy&paste textures that look like they are from a PS2.
    havok585 likes this.
  7. ReederOnTheRun

    ReederOnTheRun TS Booster Posts: 304   +62

    Yeah, but that doesn't mean it can't be abused. I'm just saying that if I were a business trying to make money, I'd force everyone to buy more DLC by giving the people who download it an advantage. The other players will get frustrated with how much easier it is with the DLC and buy it. That doesn't mean the player likes that they have to buy it, it just means that they are addicted to the game (so they obviously won't just put it down) and have to buy it for the game to be any fun.

    If they kept the games balanced and offered some free, new stuff occasionally for the people who aren't (or can't) buy DLC, then everything would be cool. (Btw, this is exactly why Valve is so highly regarded, because they still take care of the budget gamer)
  8. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,027   +197

    Lol old games weren't designed to make you lose, they were challenging, most new games are designed so anyone can win. buying a pet which does not effect your gameplay compared to buying say body armor on wolf team is a huge difference. I hate add on extras, I have very seldom bought them and very often skimmed over a potential game as soon as I heard of its pay to win.
    havok585, psycros and cliffordcooley like this.
  9. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,678   +1,067

    So how is it that game companies were just as profitable in the late 90's and early 00's without always-on DRM, micro-transactions and all the other bull$#1t? HMMM, Cliffy? And I'm supposed to be sympathetic about the fact that every studio locates itself in the most expensive cities to live in? LOL!! Games have become nothing but vending machines, and this guy thinks he's gonna get sympathy from us because he needs a third Mercedes? Oh, and nice attempted retconning of history, CB - not that anyone was fooled. Man, and to think I actually respected this guy at one time.
    avoidz and havok585 like this.
  10. alexandrionel

    alexandrionel TS Enthusiast Posts: 94

    A lot of what the article is saying is crap and it is avoiding exactly what it is necessary.
    A 60$ game I don't consider it to be "cheaper than ever has been".
    It is also saying that transactions within the game are ok and they work. Well, it seems that Dead Space 4 was canceled due to poor sales of Dead Space 3.
    You might say that the "vote with your wallet" strategy is working, but perhaps the game would have sold better if they would have focused more on making quality games rather than finding new methods to milk cows for cash.
    And the last, thing is, like I said in the beginning, that the article doesn't mention about it is about the quality of the games.
    I think it is just possible that if they would make better games with better stories and better gameplay (perhaps the console is to blame mostly) the games would sell better.
    But this is just my 2cents.

    treetops and psycros
    You make good points.
    avoidz likes this.
  11. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,041   +793

    I actually agree with quite a bit of this article, EA (and Origin) gets bashed more than they deserve however.

    It doesn't take into account genuinely bad practices which, voting with your money, cannot solve, such as always online DRM (Ubisoft) or Day 1 DLC (EA).

    As the article states, it's their Job to keep that Disk in the tray for as long as possible yet, if my internet drops I cannot play and DLC on Day one is disgraceful, I agree with DLC, in fact I really like DLC to extend a game so it stays fresh (Battlefield 3 is good evidence to this and is how DLC should be done) but not buying a game or the DLC on day one doesn't seem to make a blind bit of difference and they continue doing it anyway.

    Free-to-Play doesn't bother me at all that you have to buy stuff in-game, I enjoy TF2 without buying in-game stuff and I enjoy PlanetSide 2 without buying stuff.

    I'd also like to mention the quality of games coming out has also dropped slightly, games like TimeSplitters on PS2 was absolutely outstanding, in fact this kind of game is probably worth mentioning in an entire different article since it seems, games today are starting to forget we like fun, funny, quirky (and addictive), games (and gameplay) but instead, realistic, over the top graphics but missing the point we like monkey's and random plots and local multiplayer.
  12. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 354   +40

    In Russia, videogame micro-transact you.

    Ok bad joke aside.

    He has some good points but doesn't realize that those so called "business practice" is ruining the sole purpose of what the product was intended for.

    For example, there are people who aren't going to buy Dead Space 3 because of the microtransaction model. So they lose a $60 sale so they can make $2 off another guy and lost not only that potential $58, but lost the guy's interest in the series. Okay so my Fanboy math doesn't exactly work how I used in the example, but the concept of it is, if it's good, then people will buy it. But when you take something good, plaster it with something people hate, then people aren't going to buy it. People hate EA/Activision because they are more notorious for it.
  13. Sarcasm

    Sarcasm TS Guru Posts: 354   +40

    Actually a lot of the people who make the games really don't make that much money. I have a couple friends that are in the industry and one only makes like $65k a year. Barely enough to support his family. The other one makes about $90k a year, but even then that's not "rich." They all don't have 3 Mercedes like you are implying. They work some serious hours under lots of pressure. People don't actually realize how hard it is to make video games. It's scientific, engineering, creative, business, and personality all wrapped up in one.
  14. satyanjoy

    satyanjoy TS Member

    Cliff : This article seems to be straight from the heart - good one. Gamers tend to make a lot of noise and with current trend of Information technology its very easier to do that. So game publisher, developer need to maintain the friendly image or to be in good books with fans/gamers/customers(if that matters to them anyway).

    Why EA is evil and Valve is good, if Half-Life is an EA franchise, till now we will see Half-Life 10 or 12, I hope you got the answer.

    I know EA is publicly listed company but Valve is not which is how each company had decided to go about so far and that's how the result is coming or will be coming in near future.

    Every industry is different and mostly differentiated by the consumer and the product. In gaming industry that's how we gamer react, purchase and enjoy. EA become to much big, corporate centric ,chaotic, they are sitting on so much of IPs, I am not sure they have enough exactly how to go about with each of them.

    I buy lots of game from steam or gog.com or humblebundle not because I am going to play all of them immediately, but it was cheap or to show support for the developers or simply to collect.

    Developers/publisher are for gamer not the other way, the sooner EA or other such companies understand and realize this fact the better it is for them. We gamer will be here forever while you guys may not be ( RIP THQ)
  15. TS-56336

    TS-56336 TS Addict Posts: 609   +109

    There are a lot of factors that have led to EA's image problems and Valve's acclaim. It's not just the issues surrounding Origin and Steam. Even up to today, you can't argue that Valve offers employees a superior quality of life to what EA can give their employees, even though they have made improvements following the efforts of the "EA widows." But that's not something I'd expect Cliffy B to value, coming from a place like Epic where crunch is considered desirable. The bottom line is that Valve can be profitable while still being respectful to employees and their fans, and EA has struggled with this issue of respect in their quest for profits.
  16. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,768   +598

    Surprised no one brought up the fact that game are being developed for a larger than ever audience. Combined the 360, PS3 and Wii have nearly 250 million units, and for a game to be deemed successful it needs what, a couple million sales? A spit in the bucket so to speak, now take in to account that the vast majority of console owners are simpletons who will buy the same football game year over year or fps for example. Doesn't seem all that hard to make a game profitable, even without micro-transactions. But it seems people are insane enough to believe this is the future. Also worth pointing out on the Orgin front, maybe people wouldn't be so upset if maybe, just maybe, EA left their games on multiple platforms, IE let Steam users downloaded it OR use Origins. Not force people to use their service, THAT's the problem, not having a choice. As long as I can choose to not pay for DLC I'll be happy, but it's only a matter of time before that DLC starts to have mandatory updates included that without purchase limits your experience. Perhaps the problem is the profit, as soon as profit is put before customer satisfaction the end user will lose. It just seems this is the approach being used, don't believe me? Some of the best games I've played these last few years have been indie games. Why? Because they're games being made by someone who has passion in their hart, not greed.
  17. ghasmanjr

    ghasmanjr TS Booster Posts: 363   +86

    This is exactly like the presidential elections. People always say "My vote is so insignificant that it will never mean anything". Well, if I convince someone to vote and they convince someone to vote and they convince someone to vote then my vote becomes 4. Power in numbers my friend.

    I don't like EA's tactics with the minitransactions, but I deal with them. In NHL 2013, I paid about $10 to get more trading cards to add decent players to my team. I work almost 80 hours per week. When I finally have time to play video games, I don't want to trudge through hours upon hours of team development before my team gets decent. I paid for Battlefield 3 premium because I enjoy the game and I think that games like this need to get the "votes" because they are so so so so so so much better than the Call of Duty yearly rehashes.
  18. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,860   +1,182

    I dont think the author is able to discern the difference between a hat in TF2 and an automatic grenade launcher in some FPS.
    wastedkill likes this.
  19. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,160   +3,259

    You are absolutely correct. There will be something worth voting for (president or game), before I will waste my time casting a vote.
  20. PC EliTiST

    PC EliTiST TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +6

    Dude, you want to make a point, and as an example, you have a truly bad one or even irrelevant... Where to start and where to end on this article. Better ignore it altogether. It's not that the majority is happy, it's the minority like you who support and spend a lot that ruin the fun for all others. Are you trying to attract RP guys from those corps?

    There was a nice discussion whether corps like EA are needed in gaming industry, but simply it's already too late for that. Though, this kind of a serious discussion would way out of your league. This article is exactly like those "vocal kids" you mention about... I'd be wondering why the admins gave their permission for such a complicated nonsense to be released, but... an other time.
  21. Perhaps this is going beyond the focus of this topic blog, but why is it becoming increasingly acceptable for developers to sell games "open beta" style and then jump to the next incarnation, without fixing significant bugs (as opposed to adding new features that forum members beg for)?

    Why are "free to play" microtransactions games using ficticious currency units to sell add-on products?

    Don't you also love how you also get more of these fictious currency units per real currency unit by spending more cash on your credit card or Paypal, encouraging users to spend more?

    And who is to say how the ficticious currency unit price for an add-on product will not bounce up and down, like you will see for instance with the price of bicycles at Halfords? So you perhaps buy lots of "supersmashinggreat" units on bulk thinking you get more value for money, but then your "kill everything on the screen gun" suddenly costs more "supersmashinggreat" units!
  22. Renrew

    Renrew TS Enthusiast Posts: 253   +19

    The voting analogy is faulty.

    If you choose not to spend your dollars, it will hardly be noticed unless there are many like you, but even then, a Corporation will take a long time to realize this and react. EA, Ubisoft, Sony, HP et al are only now feeling the effects of their customer be damned policies.

    OTH--voting gives immediate results, feedback and pinpoints your location.

    I. e. I voted for third party candidates in the last three elections because there was not even one qualified candidate, nominated by a major party, running for office. Quite a few people I know did not vote because they believed their candidate would not win and became part of the silent voter pool that will never be noticed. If they would have voted, who knows what would have happened, but certainly the message to our ruling elite would have been much clearer.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  23. Tygerstrike

    Tygerstrike TS Enthusiast Posts: 827   +93

    @ The author of this article.
    Where in general I agree with the body of your article, I must point out to you that EA earned its bad guy rep not because of micro transactions, but for the purchasing and gutting of some of the top named dev studios at that time. EA has used every tactic in the book to make itself successful. That includes the rape and pillage of the video game world.
  24. Ravik

    Ravik TS Rookie Posts: 44   +8

    R U a gamer, but hate choosing a digital platform? THEN GO OLD SCHOOL! Nothing beats a good bout of Punch-Out!! on an original NES... :)
  25. Well it true EA gets a lot of bad rep but for me the worst is activision with what they did to the COD team after they bouth them out.

    Another thin I bash about these online games client (origin/steam) is that I find they think ppl are fools. Example BF3 in store cost 60$ in origin Strore 60$
    Please explain to me how a virtual copy cost as much has a hard copy ?! you have no printing,writing,translating(the cover for french or other lang),no distribution,no sharing profit with reseller ect.... PLUS I have to use MY bandwith(witch is capped at x gb per month) to get it (and im not counting that you have to do this again if you format your pc) .... no im not a ***** please dont make me feel like one. Digital copy have some advantages but the #1 should be price. Steam does the price thing better offering lots of deals BUT on a new game release your gona pay full retail even if your only getting virtual copies.

    Just my 2cent

    havok585 likes this.

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