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The Microtransaction Investigation

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Gigglebyte 19th September 2011, 09:34 Quote
If devs split their focus well between F2P games and paid for titles then a good balance can be achieved in my opinion but if they tilt the balance and focus too much on F2P then I feel it will be a bubble waiting to pop.
Kiytan 19th September 2011, 09:47 Quote
While not a huge fan of the game (prefer HoN) I do have to give massive credit to LoL for absolutely nailing the micro-transactions aspect.

All the things that change gameplay can be acquired without paying, and everything else (to my knowledge) is a cosmetic item. They also don't bombard you with "buy our stuff" (unlike HoN) It's just an option when you look in the shop, and a small advert in the top right.
V3ctor 19th September 2011, 09:54 Quote
Those are some big charts! :D
loftie 19th September 2011, 10:16 Quote
I agree with Kiytan. I've played LoL for a while now, but not bought anything. I'm not really interested in skins to be fair, and I've unlocked a good chunk of the champions. I've not once felt like I've been at a disadvantage for not paying for anything!
DbD 19th September 2011, 10:22 Quote
You should have looked at World of Tanks - that's the one that's nailed how to do "free to play". They've just got the balance right - you get a significant advantage by paying extra but nothing you couldn't get if you were to grind for long enough. They must be raking it in.
thehippoz 19th September 2011, 10:26 Quote
what kind of pie chart is that.. 100%

guildwars has a nice mini store- nothing that unbalances the game, it's all cosmetic

old players have status symbols too for being around during holidays.. so if your wearing like the hat from the first year halloween.. no one else has it

oh yeah they have suits of armor too can't trade.. so only decent players have this- well I shouldnt say that.. some get coat tailed there for a price.. even taken guys to get a spider in the underworld for 50k, probably gold buyers though

think gw2 is going to be the same model (hopefully)
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 10:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
You should have looked at World of Tanks - that's the one that's nailed how to do "free to play". They've just got the balance right - you get a significant advantage by paying extra but nothing you couldn't get if you were to grind for long enough. They must be raking it in.

There are loads and loads of games I'd like to have included. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get the data in a standardised format and each game sufficiently researched, so this was a massively lengthy (and soul crushing) process as it was. Hopefully the readers will name and shame/praise any significant titles that I didn't include :D
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 10:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz
what kind of pie chart is that.. 100%

It's a silly pie chart to highlight the silly pricing model.
Yslen 19th September 2011, 10:58 Quote
Thankyou for this, though graphs had me in fits of laughter.
bleurrrrgh 19th September 2011, 10:58 Quote
I couldn't get the .xls file to work on my Mac, in neither Excel 2008 nor Apple Numbers. I could see two sheets (All and Charts Data), but there was no actual graph.
kingred 19th September 2011, 12:22 Quote
Your eve comments are quite badly researched, the backlash was from a leaked internal newsletter called fearless which was taken out of context as it advocated a multitude of ways to use the new doll dress up store, when in reality it was toilet reading.

That and the allocation of resources away from improving flying in space features and adding more dolly dress up ones, which is not only insulting, it has lead to the stagnation of large swathes of space after a badly implemented nerf, which ignored many features from the dominion expansion.


Monocles and their wearing is a great use of in game currency to enrage folks for not only hilarity but also to get them to do dumb things. Stay tuned for more drama this winter!
SexyHyde 19th September 2011, 12:38 Quote
anyone want to buy a hat?
DaBigDog 19th September 2011, 12:40 Quote
My main bug bear with this is the term "Micro-transaction" to me if it isn't below £1, it isn't micro. I'm old enough to remember 1/2p chews from the little shop on the corner so I understand what providing value is.
That said, I've probably spent £150 on WoW in game activities, server swaps and race changes, no stupid mounts and World of Tanks is currently my favourite obsession with almost 4000 battles played and about £70 spent on gold.... sigh, only prem tank, and no - it's not a Lowe.... it's a T2 Light:-)

DbD did get it right about World of Tanks but I wouldn't say it gives an big advantage - the benefit you get is pretty slight, it's more about getting into the higher tiers quicker, I rarely buy the premium ammo or consumables, the standard stuff is normally good enough and I never feel at a disadvantage, in fact taking people down who are obviously using paid for in game items is a great joy !!

Hats off to Valve and Wargaming.net for understanding what Free to Play is, EA need to hang their head in shame for BFP4F - every developer should be shown that game an have it expalined that the way NOT to do it.

Nice article guys, my sympathies witht he data collectors.....
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 12:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingred
Your eve comments are quite badly researched, the backlash was from a leaked internal newsletter called fearless which was taken out of context as it advocated a multitude of ways to use the new doll dress up store, when in reality it was toilet reading.

That and the allocation of resources away from improving flying in space features and adding more dolly dress up ones, which is not only insulting, it has lead to the stagnation of large swathes of space after a badly implemented nerf, which ignored many features from the dominion expansion.


Monocles and their wearing is a great use of in game currency to enrage folks for not only hilarity but also to get them to do dumb things. Stay tuned for more drama this winter!

I don't see how you've come to the conclusion that it was badly researched. That email, of course, adds to the backlash but it's not particularly relevant to the article. Many EVE players (who I've both spoken to and read comments from) are upset about the inclusion of microtransaction items and their related prices. Sure, I could have gone into more detail on the Incara update and the many facets of it that have annoyed, but this isn't an article about EVE.

You even go on to complain about the absurdity of the microtransaction items after saying that they weren't what the backlash was about. Basically, sorry, but I don't see your point and I resent being told my comments are "quite badly researched" when the research was extensive thankyouverymuch.
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 12:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaBigDog
My main bug bear with this is the term "Micro-transaction" to me if it isn't below £1, it isn't micro. I'm old enough to remember 1/2p chews from the little shop on the corner so I understand what providing value is.


Nice article guys, my sympathies witht he data collectors.....

We set the definition as "a single item" - like, a hat, a gun, etc. Otherwise it would be more DLC or even an expansion. Micro is probably the wrong word, but it's just what's canonical in the industry.

Also, just for the record, I did all the data collecting :)
rollo 19th September 2011, 13:20 Quote
Wow and eve don't really do micro transactions

Unless you want a pet / mount / dress for your ship

I've spent more on race and server transfers
impar 19th September 2011, 13:20 Quote
Greetings!

Other than TF2, what other games allow crafting items?
nukeman8 19th September 2011, 13:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCraigL
That email, of course, adds to the backlash but it's not particularly relevant to the article. Many EVE players (who I've both spoken to and read comments from) are upset about the inclusion of microtransaction items and their related prices.

For me and alot of eve players i know it was the newsletter and the direction CCP was going. micro transactions was just an insult to injury, not because they was adding them but because they lied and said they was not going to add them.

Unfortunately CCP played it off as micro transactions being the main problem and ignoring the fearless thing entirely, which has confused alot of non eve players.
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 13:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

Other than TF2, what other games allow crafting items?

In the games listed it's just TF2 and LOTR:O allow crafting of things that are also available to buy. WoW has crafting too, but not for the paid for items.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Wow and eve don't really do micro transactions

Unless you want a pet / mount / dress for your ship

I've spent more on race and server transfers

I was debating whether to include the race/server transfers but I figured they were more of a paid for service (as ridiculous as it is) as oppose to a MT. Also a pet/mount/dress vs things that do things vs things that do things better than free things is exactly what this article is talking about.
MrCraigL 19th September 2011, 13:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by nukeman8

For me and alot of eve players i know it was the newsletter and the direction CCP was going. micro transactions was just an insult to injury, not because they was adding them but because they lied and said they was not going to add them.

Unfortunately CCP played it off as micro transactions being the main problem and ignoring the fearless thing entirely, which has confused alot of non eve players.

I don't disagree, and I know (as a non-EVE player) that there is a lot that CCP and EVE has to answer for to their playerbase - my concern though is that it's beyond the scope of this article to go into it in that much depth.
crowd 19th September 2011, 13:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingred
Your eve comments are quite badly researched, the backlash was from a leaked internal newsletter called fearless which was taken out of context as it advocated a multitude of ways to use the new doll dress up store, when in reality it was toilet reading.

That and the allocation of resources away from improving flying in space features and adding more dolly dress up ones, which is not only insulting, it has lead to the stagnation of large swathes of space after a badly implemented nerf, which ignored many features from the dominion expansion.


Monocles and their wearing is a great use of in game currency to enrage folks for not only hilarity but also to get them to do dumb things. Stay tuned for more drama this winter!

Heh. No. A big part of the outrage was due to the internal communications of CCP that leaked (newsletter, global mail, etcetera) confirming a mindset which signalled not just an utter contempt for CCP's customers. But worse, a complete absence of understanding of basic planning, development and research. On the challenges of game development for Incarna, and what CCP called "milking the cash cow" by means of microtransactions.

While CCP tried to downplay the matter by emphasising the newsletter being nothing but a random internal blurb with no value and shifting the attention away from the other leaks, the newsletter was pretty quickly confirmed for value and internal signifinance as an instrument of policy and strategic direction (where the newsletter is one of the instruments used by CCP to provide understanding of both & related to employees) by multiple present and former employees.

The topic of resource allocation for EVE Online has been a major issue for several years now.

It would be quite interesting to do some further research by means of the CSM member blogs as well as related EVE Community blogs in all this. It is an interesting year for CCP, a year where its own grand plans are demonstrated to have cost them dearly, flatlining the product and demonstrating the importance of never neglecting your core gameplay. Like any company CCP wants to expand and that is fine, but the big lessons are to never bullshit customers, never take the core attraction of your game for granted and never delude yourself with unrealistic plans when you have built up a history of never being able to follow through on any plan whatsoever in a meaningful manner.
jrs77 19th September 2011, 14:06 Quote
Microtransactions are not a problem by default. It all depends on what kind of items you can buy in the cashshop and if the players can enjoy the whole game without beeing forced to spend real money in the cashshop.

When we're forced to buy something from the cashshop, then atleast there should be the possibility to pay for these needed items with ingame money. Look at Runes of Magic for example, where you can either buy most of the stuff needed from the auctionhouse or purchase diamonds (cashshop-currency) with ingame gold by trading with an NPC or other players.
Other games with a cashshop tend to force you spending real money tho, with no possibility of this "gold-trading" and this is where things get ugly.

I'm more interested in 100% P2P-models where there's no cashshop and microtransactions at all, besides server-transfers. Even name-changes shouldn't be there, nor should there be any vanity-items being sold that I can't get by other means ingame. I want access to the whole content at a fixed monthly subscription.

The reason why I want a pure P2P-model is, that I'm interested in competitive gameplay. Competition is destroyed tho, if players can use real money to buy stuff that others either need to grind for or don't have access through other means at all. Especially in PvP-games this is a huge gamebreaker for me and I don't play PvP-games, where there's a cashshop setup in this way.

EvE Online recently added a cashshop for Incarna and aslong as they don't start to sell anything that influences the spaceship-part of the game it is basically all well, but still I don't support this crap and rather see it removed alltogether again. These kind of vanity-cashshops only show that the developer is greedy, trying to milk even more money from their playerbase.
I simply can't support such things.

So. There's only two payment-models that will ever see 100% support from my side: 100% P2P or B2P.
nukeman8 19th September 2011, 14:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCraigL

I don't disagree, and I know (as a non-EVE player) that there is a lot that CCP and EVE has to answer for to their playerbase - my concern though is that it's beyond the scope of this article to go into it in that much depth.

Fair enough.
1 thing i dont agree with thou is your definition of a microtransaction. I always assumed it meant low cost, not a single item. Thou gotta admit your way makes alot more sense.
DaBigDog 19th September 2011, 14:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCraigL
We set the definition as "a single item" - like, a hat, a gun, etc. Otherwise it would be more DLC or even an expansion. Micro is probably the wrong word, but it's just what's canonical in the industry.

I'm feeling your pain on the data collection MrCraig, my bugbear isn't with the article, it's with the industry's use of the term, it sets expectations that more often than not that are false.

I don't blame bit-tech for using the term in the article more the developers/publishers who believe it is an appropriate term for the value of transactions used.

How about we all agree to use the term "in game transaction" as opposed to Micro-transaction, just because the industry sets a misleading term, doesn't mean we all have to use it ?

If you don't like something - do something about it :-)
Bungletron 19th September 2011, 17:34 Quote
Quote:
...while only 10 per cent of players will ever buy an in-game item, that figure can't be allowed to grow too much. If that 10 per cent becomes 15 per cent then free players will begin to see purchases as required to enjoy the game, and leave as a result.

This line really reminded me of a profound truth that I have grown fond of recently, that for anything you do not pay for you are the product, not the client. Basically all the free players are there so they can get pwned by freemium players, what a joke!

Since the quality of these games is dubious and falling daily, my conclusion is at some point in the future all free players will begin to actually be paid token sums of money so that there are always a steady supply online ready to get bum raped by freemium players, it will probably be cheaper than designing bot ai.
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