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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessGameplay vs. Monetization
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Leroy Binks
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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2012, 05:57:30 PM »

Gambling on the outcome of a non-traditional gambling game, (not cards, dice, slots, etc), seems like it would have a small audience.  It also sounds like a terrible way to get players to sink money into my game.

If Super Mario Bros. was a gambling game, you might play through levels 1-1 through 1-3 then a prompt would appear asking if you would like to wager whether or not you think you can defeat Bowser in 1-4.  Not being certain of how Bowser might move or my reaction time, as a player I would choose not to make such a wager.  In the same scenario where the monetization affects gameplay, you would have to pay for your fireballs and super stars.  In the same scenario where the monetization does not affect gameplay is after defeating Bowser you are prompted to buy an optional set of levels or continue on to 2-1.  Additionally, I would consider paying for warp tubes, but this sounds like "buying your advantage" so I would probably not. 

I return to the game I mentioned in my first post, "Wild Ones" by Playdom.  They have also employed the "gambling" method as well as all other sorts of monetization.  The play dynamics are all out of whack and the free players, and casual spenders, suffer because of it. They core game mechanic is never allowed to shine through when players can make such radical alterations to how they play.  (BTW, their gambiling method is that you wager cash for in-game weapons or vanity items.  Sometimes you can actually end up with nothing, which is unfair even to the "super spenders" who spend a ton of money on the game.)
 
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There are plenty of pixelated programmers pounding out products of peculiar playability at a prolific pace with purported profits.

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Falmil
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2012, 06:06:15 PM »

The idea of gambling with real money does sound like one that might harm gameplay. As already stated, the fact that money can be earned means that the game company has to ensure that they take in more money than they put out, which means odds are going to be stacked in their favor (unless they don't mind going out of business in a hurry). The most other games have to worry about is balancing an economy, ensuring exploits are patched, and providing enough places to dump the resources gained. Using real money blows all of that out of the water and makes every feature potentially dangerous in terms of upsetting balance and losing dozens/hundreds/thousands of dollars for players (and getting them angry at the game for cheating or being broken) and/or the company (and going out of business).

Also, your own real money as a potential prize thing has other problems. I don't really see the way this can neatly fit into a game other than via gambling and tournaments. Gambling on other people's games doesn't seem all that great an idea. Between people cheating or simply throwing the match, I am not sure how that would be stable over time. Further review of the site seems to indicate that only automated gambling works because the code needs to run on Betable's servers. How many ways can you spin gambling in a game to make it interesting?

Does it even make sense to gamble in a game for real money when that isn't the objective? The mixture of gambling and external gameplay almost seem to be opposites really. If you're playing a game for fun, why would you ever bet real money? And if you're playing a game for real money, than its most likely simply become a gambling and money making idea and the game external to it is greatly diminished. The idea of virtual currency item shops bridges the gap between real money and helpful or interesting game elements. Maybe I'm being small minded, but I just don't see it being as effective or being as good as a virtual currency except in select circumstances.
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2012, 07:31:38 PM »

@Paul Eres: Your example of notch, edmund and other guys is wrong because they don't develop competitive multiplayer games. I have a feeling you don't really know the realities of mp games. Getting a subscription-based indie mp game to run is awfully hard because without extensive marketing, you won't get much players. Saying that "good game will sell" is bullshit and you know it the best. You develop good games, still you starve. Multiplayer games, especially ones that focus on PvP NEED players to live. It won't work when you have 20 players that subscribe to pay servers. They will quickly get bored fighting the same guys over and over again. You need variety and competition. Making the game free is the most powerful marketing you can get. With hundreds (or thousands) of non-paying players, even if the % of paying users is small, they are more willing to pay, because the game is fun. The most important aspect is to keep it fair between paying and non-paying players. As long as you can achieve it and have a steady income, your successful. Saying that it's impossible or that you will always turn into corrupted evil businessman trying to milk the cow is stupid.

Remember that League of Legends let's free players buy run pages and champions too. While the prices are a bit too high to be called fair, it doesn't make the game worse. Non-paying player vs paying player with same characters will always be fair, because there are no direct advantages that you can buy.

sorry it took a while to reply, i just saw this post

a couple of mistaken points here:

1. i do know the realities of multiplayer competetive games, i've played over 2000 games of league of legends for instance; i'm not sure how much more in-depth one can get. so when i say that LoL gives an advantage to people who pay, that comes from pretty good first-hand knowledge. i've paid in LoL and i do have an advantage over people who did not pay. it's not an insurmountable advantage, but it's an advantage to own 20 rune pages and a large variety of runes and 60+ champions, because then you can counter-pick more appropriately than someone who has 2 rune pages and 15 champions

2. it may be true that i make good games, but it certainly isn't true that i starve. with one game that i worked on for 6 months, i've made enough to live on for 4 years (not extremely well, but i can buy food every month). that's pretty decent. if i had been releasing a game every year or every six months like edmund and the others have, i'd be much more well off. i'd even say that my game sold better than i expected considering the quality of it

3. i wasn't saying that you should have to pay to play *at all*, just that you should have to pay to play eventually. have a free area, a free trial period, these get players into the game. for instance, the indie mmorpg dofus has made millions of dollars, and it's not some big blizzard AAA game, it started out as a relatively small team who made the game in flash, it has a free area and a paid for area, you are locked to below level 20 unless you pay 5$ a month. the model still works
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Moczan
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« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2012, 02:39:42 AM »


sorry it took a while to reply, i just saw this post

a couple of mistaken points here:

1. i do know the realities of multiplayer competetive games, i've played over 2000 games of league of legends for instance; i'm not sure how much more in-depth one can get. so when i say that LoL gives an advantage to people who pay, that comes from pretty good first-hand knowledge. i've paid in LoL and i do have an advantage over people who did not pay. it's not an insurmountable advantage, but it's an advantage to own 20 rune pages and a large variety of runes and 60+ champions, because then you can counter-pick more appropriately than someone who has 2 rune pages and 15 champions
What you said is true on casual level, but again I'm talking about competitive level and I'm amazed how after 2000 games you still don't understand it. I'm at around same amount of matches and:
-as far as I remember rune pages limit was lower than 20 (unless it's changed recently) Wink
-watching top-level tournaments, you can see that the amount of competitively used champions is much closer to that 15 not that 60, even less if you work in team and only need to cover your role.
-instead of playing catch'em all, you can use your IP to buy rune pages and runes for your champions, covering 1-2 roles shouldn't require more than 4 pages (which equals to 1-2 new characters if you manage to get the free rune page).
Quote
3. i wasn't saying that you should have to pay to play *at all*, just that you should have to pay to play eventually. have a free area, a free trial period, these get players into the game. for instance, the indie mmorpg dofus has made millions of dollars, and it's not some big blizzard AAA game, it started out as a relatively small team who made the game in flash, it has a free area and a paid for area, you are locked to below level 20 unless you pay 5$ a month. the model still works
I wasn't aware that the game is from an indie studio, I've played it hard during beta and after release, but that's a good point!
HOWEVER, their next title, Dofus Arena which focuses mainly on competitive PvP matches uses microtransaction model. It's still in beta with really bad English translation, but right now it seems they are getting the paid vs free balance better than LoL on casual scene.
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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2012, 02:39:00 PM »

What you said is true on casual level, but again I'm talking about competitive level and I'm amazed how after 2000 games you still don't understand it. I'm at around same amount of matches and:
-as far as I remember rune pages limit was lower than 20 (unless it's changed recently) Wink
-watching top-level tournaments, you can see that the amount of competitively used champions is much closer to that 15 not that 60, even less if you work in team and only need to cover your role.
-instead of playing catch'em all, you can use your IP to buy rune pages and runes for your champions, covering 1-2 roles shouldn't require more than 4 pages (which equals to 1-2 new characters if you manage to get the free rune page).

LoL sounds horrible, I'm so glad I play dota 1/2
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2012, 04:44:49 AM »

I don't understand much about this topic but I can feel that modern ways of monetization is the great road to evil. Correct me if I am wrong.
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« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2012, 02:02:08 AM »

I don't understand much about this topic but I can feel that modern ways of monetization is the great road to evil. Correct me if I am wrong.
If you are indie conspiracy theorist - yes. If you are normal indie dev, who loves making games, with players who love playing his game, and just happens to not use old-school methods of earning his living, nothing bad is happening.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2012, 10:57:56 AM »

If you are indie conspiracy theorist - yes.
And if you are realist?
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« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2012, 11:33:04 AM »

If you are indie conspiracy theorist - yes.
And if you are realist?
I just have a feeling a lot of people are looking at one side of the medal, just saying "hurr durr Zynga, monetization is evil". But being a realist, it creates possibilities. There are many companies which try to milk the cow, creating game around maximizing revenue (limiting gameplay to sell thing to help etc.), but in the end, it all contributes to players getting used to new payment methods. Players paying for parts of game they are most interested in is a good thing, because it's creates flexible model, where more players can enjoy your game.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2012, 09:08:48 PM »

Players paying for parts of game they are most interested in is a good thing
Any examples? Because I wouldn't want to buy a half game.
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« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2012, 03:40:34 AM »

Players paying for parts of game they are most interested in is a good thing
Any examples? Because I wouldn't want to buy a half game.
A quick example would be a game with both single and multiplayer modes. Players who are more interested in single-player campaign and plot would buy new campaigns/mission while those who like online play would buy multi-player related content. That way you could lower the initial price of the game.

For a real-life example, a competitive RTS player would buy Starcraft 2 for half the price if it only included multiplayer and skirmish mode without whole campaign, cinematics etc. and ability to buy that content as a DLC later. The final price of the whole game is the same, but the entry-price is much lower and additionally work as an marketing tool.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #31 on: February 11, 2012, 06:18:43 AM »

As long as it stays this way I think it is ok. Because it is still the traditional way of buying the game. You are just buying different comepletely separted stuff, like add-ons.

I thought modern monetization is something what happens in mmo's since diablo2 or may be even earlier. You are allowed to play completely for free but you pay real money for items.
More than likely this is where evil habits start, on both, on the player and on the dev side.
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« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2012, 07:48:57 PM »

@Jackson31
There's a lot of interest from game developers on the PvP betting side. It seems to be the least friction for both developers and players, and it doesn't feel like the game includes gambling in the same way that games of chance do.

If Super Mario Bros. was a gambling game, you might play through levels 1-1 through 1-3 then a prompt would appear asking if you would like to wager whether or not you think you can defeat Bowser in 1-4.  Not being certain of how Bowser might move or my reaction time, as a player I would choose not to make such a wager.

@Leroy Binks
you make valid points. Part of the reason why real-money gambling games are still using the exact same gameplay models (slots, blackjack, roulette, etc) is because people value familiarity when dealing with real money. This is why we advise that you make a game for virtual currency, so players can get familiar with it, and then onboard the real money part later (the adapted freemium model).

Of course, you need to balance the game appropriately. But when done well, random chance is a powerful motivator for spending. Zynga uses the "mystery box" mechanic in their games (the "pay to spin, win a random item!" mechanic), but they also always award something. There's just a 1/200 chance of getting the item that you actually want (See our blog post about it: http://blog.betable.com/tips-for-monetizing-your-free-to-play-game/)

@Falmil
I don't think that real-money would harm gameplay, especially when its served as an option in a virtual currency-based game. Players that weren't willing to wager money on game outcomes wouldn't do it. For us, anyway, we handle the fraud and balance stuff so that you don't accidentally build a "losing" game or get hacked. But for others making real-money games without us, those are serious fears, so it makes sense why you bring them up

We've actually seen people build some really cool game concepts. One mobile team is making a "peer to peer slot machine", where your attack damage is randomly determined and you punch gold coins out of enemies when you hit them. If you don't get a reward, you "miss" the enemy (the characters are ninjas so lots of misses are slightly more realistic Tongue). Another developer is making an RPG slot machine, where you pay for supplies to go on mission (ie put the coin in the slot machine) and then you unlock your reward by killing monsters and finding treasure during your quest. We're looking forward to seeing more, crazier stuff in the future Smiley

I just have a feeling a lot of people are looking at one side of the medal, just saying "hurr durr Zynga, monetization is evil". But being a realist, it creates possibilities. There are many companies which try to milk the cow, creating game around maximizing revenue (limiting gameplay to sell thing to help etc.), but in the end, it all contributes to players getting used to new payment methods. Players paying for parts of game they are most interested in is a good thing, because it's creates flexible model, where more players can enjoy your game.

@Moczan
Totally agree. There's been a fair amount of attacks on Zynga and their aggressive monetization tactics, but they also built a huge business and contributed a lot to the space in ways that aren't necessary new game mechanics (ie they revolutionized game analytics, marketing, design, etc). I also believe that the freemium model has been great for gamers, because they have the freedom to play almost any game they want for free, and only when you decide that you like a game do you have to put money down. This is a huge win for players, IMO. Our goal is to continue this with real-money play by replacing obtrusive ads, DLCs, etc with a more engaging monetization method for players.
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« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2012, 02:53:26 AM »

Err... I don't know about your countries, but AFAIK all countries requires a special license to allow betting, or forbid it totally.

So I don't think it's a good way for making indie game...
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