Tag zynga

Give Me A Convincing Argument And I’ll Stop, Honest

I has pony! Or, well, not me. I'd never play a Night Elf male to level 80. Brrrrr.

Oh no! This piece of juicy drama is not getting away from me. I know you’re all fed up reading about the Celestial Steed, so instead of beating that old dead horse (pun very much intended) I will keep this quick.

A few points on the discussion about the sparkly pony in World of Warcraft:

- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, will not be persuaded to like the sparkly horse by being told to “deal with it” or “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it”. Those are not very good arguments, since they have nothing to do with the matter at hand. I’d go to as far as to say that they are not arguments at all. They are dismissals.
- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, are usually grown up and have enough disposable income to buy the horse themselves. They are usually not jealous of the people that spent $25 dollars on it.
- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, are usually worried about what kind of message this sends to the developers. Or, in this case, the publisher who is happy to charge outrageous prices for content already.

I’m not angry at the people buying the horse, but I’m not convinced this is a good move for the consumer either. I think the pricing is outrageous and don’t believe that the hundred of thousands of people that thought it is alright to pay $25 for it make the whole thing alright. I don’t think the pricing of the Stimulus Package is warranted either, but obviously the 2,5 million people who downloaded it during the first week thought so.

That’s where I believe the standard for future DLC from Acti Blizzard was set, by the way. If people will pay 1200 Microsoft Points for 5 maps (two of which are re-used from the first game), then why wouldn’t they pay $25 for a sparkly horsie? Obviously, they would. (Would I pay $25 for a proto drake? I’d rather not think about that, considering the amount of time I spent hunting for the Time-Lost Proto Drake.)

D&D Online

Here's what I think of your offer wall! Haiiaaah!

Neither will I ever apologize for thinking that Turbine made a mistake when they introduced the offer wall and only being glad that they took it away. Too many scams have been perpetrated through such offers, enough for me to believe that no serious business should get themselves involved with it. I don’t care how much money is being generated, or that a lot of people like the system. Being told that it’s the future, without any more tangible proof why I am wrong, will not convince me otherwise.

Zynga made a similar mistake during GDC. Instead of trying to explain why their game actually had something to offer, or explain in a good way why other devs could learn real and tangible lessons in gamedesign and not only new ways to milk the audience for more money, they just alienated themselves even further from the people who already hate them. And probably made even more people dislike them in the process.

Oh yeah!

Oh yeah!

The sparkly pony is just another move towards a future that I’m not sure that I like. Should I shut up about that because it seems like that future will win over one I’d prefer? Hardly. There might be great changes coming, I don’t doubt that they will. But I want more proper arguments why these changes will be good for the consumer before I accept them as a good thing. So far, I have yet to see one apologetic reason that has me convinced. Until then, I will remain sceptical and critical – of the F2P genre (which I really weren’t, until Allods and the rise of social gaming gave me another perspective on things), of the offer walls, of any sparkly ponies being sold for $25.

I am only happy to be proven wrong, though. There’s a comment section below, feel free to use it to convince me why I am not making any sense. Please, give me an argument that will blow my little ship out of the water. I’m inviting you to do so!

And while Activision Blizzard keep overcharging for their content, and offer walls keep generating income for the companies that use them, I will sit here hoping for someone to actually give them some competition by simple virtue of being less outrageous. Modern Warfare 2 has Battlefield Bad Company 2, which might give Acti a run for their Call of Duty-money in the future. Now we just need someone to show the consumer (and the industry) that you can deliver a great MMO (or social game), and show the industry that you can make a lot of money, by being much more reasonable when it comes to pricing.

Next up on DFTM: A happy post! Enough with the grumbling, let’s hold hands and be happy.

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This Will Hopefully Be My Only Post On Social Games Ever

Farmville screenshot

Lesson 1: Not a MMO.

While I was away doing everything except blogging, a lot of stuff happened that I’ve thought I should blog about. I still haven’t finished my narrative on Allods Online, but I’ll get back to it sooner or later. Then there’s that new Cryptic-drama (take your pick of which drama it is this week), that I wanted to comment on. That last thing is actually kind of related to what I thought I’d write about now – social games.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on and on about how social games are not games and that they are nothing but spamfests etcetera. But social games have invaded the MMO-sphere lately (even getting their own column at Massively), with everyone talking about it. Come to think of it, social games have invaded every gaming sphere lately, not only MMOs, and GDC this year was a big Zynga-hatefest with Zynga hating everyone else and then being rude about it and making everyone hate them even more. Good job there. Thumbs up!

Anyway, I shall leave that part out. Let’s just say that I am not impressed by them, but they are obviously big business these days. I do have one major problem with them, though, a problem that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

Ever since three major corporations decided to wage a console war against each other (or other people decided that they were waging a war for them), people have speculated what life would be like with only one console. A single machine that would play all games. No more of this “exclusive” nonsense, just gaming. How sweet wouldn’t life be, no? And most of us gaming journos, and most people with some form of sense, have said that it would not be a very good idea at all. First of all, we journos like to report on drama and David Cage talking about Natal. Secondly, most people with some form of sense realize that competition is good for the consumer – lower prices, higher quality, etc. One single console would kill competition, and life would be generally less fun.

Lesson 2: Not a "social game".

So how about them “social games”? While we’re starting to see a bit more creative projects crop up, including Civilization (yay!), they do have one thing in common (except spamming your friends, hurr hurr). They are, to a vast majority, on Facebook. With all this talk about social media and life in 140 chars and making international connections and viral campaigns and all that stuff, everything seems to be centered around Facebook. And I can’t think of any of these “social games”, except Echo Bazaar, that takes place on another social media site.

And that, to me, is the big problem. Not only because I don’t like Facebook personally, because of their privacy issues, but because I don’t like seeing so much of the industry’s money being fueled towards one platform. Let’s be honest here, even you social gaming people, what is the one thing that keeps this whole genre together? Facebook. The idea that all those people that play FarmVille (85 million? Riiiight.) would seek out new games if Facebook disappeared is farfetched; to say the least. It’s all in there, your friends are there, you socialize there, you play your games there. Take that away…and what is left?

This is a problem for social media in general, of course – Facebook does not have proper competition. But with EA sacking 1500 people, while pumping in $300 million in Playfish, that effects my industry to such a huge extent that it’s hard not to sit up straight and go “lol wut?”. If Facebook screws up, and it’s hardly like they make all the right decisions, they will not fall alone. Unless we get some more bigger movers, that is also offering platforms for social gaming, the industry is building a lot of hope into one single platform. It’s like one gigantic console, that if it fails will bring a lot of money crashing down with it.

Hopefully, it won’t come to that. Hopefully something new will arise, it almost always does, and usurp Facebook and the circus will move on to the Next Great Thing there. Or Facebook will be like the Wii – game companies will pump in a lot of money into a lot of projects, find out that a lot of it won’t sell, the market will stabilize at a lower point that everybody that was talking about a revolution anticipated (don’t get me wrong, the Wii is selling tons, games for a mature audience on the machine is not). That’s probably more likely to happen than any doomsday scenario that I might paint up in my head. But until either of those two things happen, I will watch the boat from a distance and chew my fingernails and rant and rave at whoever will listen.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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