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Greg Costikyan
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"Will players eventually vote with their feet (or mice) and leave games that are simply treating them as a unit of monetization?" This is kind of ludicrous actually. Here's how the conventional market works: You lay out $60 for a game on the basis of a review and TV marketing and maybe a crippled demo, in the prayerful hope that the game doesn't suck--and often find out that well, actually, it does, and you've just blown $60 on a coaster. Here's how the FTP market works: You pay zip, nothing, nada, until and if you want to. And yes, you're subjected to commercial blandishment to encourage you to pay, and have to play 'whack a mole' with pop-ups that want to spam your friends, but you are accepting the crap in order to play for free. It's a lot like TV, in other words; you deal with the commercials to get the free content. There are problems with these kinds of models -- appeal to the least common denominator, business dominance by suits focused on monetization rather than quality, and so on and so on; yes, indie film is better than broadcast TV, and indie (not mainstream commercial) games are more interesting than social games -- but the way in which 'free' monetizes audiences is not one of them. In that regard, FTP is far less exploitative than application sale.
"Will players eventually vote with their feet (or mice) and leave games that are simply treating them as a unit of monetization?" This is kind of ludicrous actually. Here's how the conventional game industry works: You lay out $60 on the basis of a review somewhere, with the prayerful hope that the review is accurate, and it doesn't totally suck. A lot of the time, you are wrong. Here's how the FTP model works: You pay nothing, zip, nada, until and if you want to. Of course, you're invited to do so constantly, and you're also playing 'whack a mole' with a million pop ups inviting you to spam your friend and spread the thing virally. But unless you are an idiot, you ultimately spend far less than on a conventional game. I'm not debating the quality of current social games, which are mostly poor; but the idea that these are uniquely monetarily exploitative of their audience is absurd. Yes, they have annoying characteristics, but if you make the analogy that conventional videogames are like the movies (pay flat fee for entrance) and FTP games are like TV (accept that you will be subjected to tedious commercial blandishments in return for free access to content), I think you'll see that FTP games are not evil. Braindead, catering to the lowest common denominator, and perhaps lots of other things -- but by no means financially exploitative of their players.
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Mar 4, 2011