How Do You Like To Pay For Games?

monetizing video games

My Thoughts On Monetizing Games

I’ve had several discussions about monetization lately. The Dreadnought DLC fiasco, DOOM and Total War: Warhammer releasing their first paid DLC, and most recently Evolve converting to F2P. Money fuels the game world. Even the best games die without it. Gone are the days where you just bought a game, and that was all. It was such a simple time. Now the lines are blurred. Are we getting as much game as we used to? How would you even know? One good thing that has come from all this is options. We have more ways than ever to buy games.

Expansions

This is closest to the old-school method. You buy a game, and you get EVERYTHING. That is, until the expansion. Then you buy the expansion and get EVERYTHING. Until the next expansion. What you get is very clear cut with this method. Guild Wars 2 is the best example of this. There has only been one expansion to date. Meanwhile you’ve gotten to participate in everything the game has to offer without dropping a dime for more content.

Season Pass

This is close to the expansions method, but not quite. You buy a game, and then unlock all of the DLC for a ‘season’. I think this method is pretty awful. More awful if they release actual game content in it. It always leaves me thinking that I paid full price for a game, and now I need to pay more to enjoy the full experience. The season pass is generally the same price as the game itself, so you’re essentially buying the game twice. Arguably you could just say it’s the same as buying expansions, but in my experience these games die pretty quickly once the season pass is done. I don’t see getting your money’s worth. None of the DLCs offer the full amount content you’d expect from an expansion.

Subscription

The subscription model basically allows you to access the game for as long as you pay the ($15) monthly fee. The World of Warcraft model, if you will. Sometimes there are expansions that go along with this, but they are usually years apart. I think the monthly subscription fee is a terrible idea though. If there was never another dungeon added to WoW, I wouldn’t even notice. I realize that someone people would, but hey, let them pay for it. I’ll pay for new battlegrounds, or access to queue for battlegrounds if it’s reasonably priced per-month. Generally I enjoy PvP in games, and generally PvP is what gets the least attention in games. For this reason, subscriptions offer a particularly low value to me.

Free to Play

Ahh yes, the ‘free’ model. The idea is that you can download and play the game for free. Nothing’s free though. Still, I guess I like this model best. I don’t want to pay for content I’ll never use. The DOOM season pass, for example, is all about multiplayer. I don’t like the multiplayer whatsoever, so why would I want pay for it? That’s also the reason I don’t subscribe to SWTOR now. Why pay a subscription for a game that has essentially gone full PvE? The problem with this model is finding what can be monetized successfully. Character skins in MOBA games are a popular choice. You pay for customization, not gameplay. I’ve sunk over $100 into League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. WildStar has a new F2P model that I’ve examined briefly, and it looks better than SWTOR (which I consider to be good as well).

Straight Awful Options Too

Of course there are hybrids of the above, as well as options taken to the extreme. Expansion type games where you still have to buy things from an in-game store. Free to Play games that you have to pay real money to unlock core gameplay (Pay to win). At the end of the day though, I am all for developers getting paid. I don’t pirate games, or use questionable sites to purchase them. I want to make sure that the games I like get funding to get better. The best part is that when I don’t like them (or their monetization) anymore, I can stop funding them. That’s why I stopped playing World of Warcraft. I didn’t like the direction they were taking the game (Cataclysm story/Pandaland), and couldn’t justify $15/month on just one game anymore. There is just SO much out there, it’s madness to pay that price for one game. In my opinion, anyway. While I still love World of Warcraft, I am glad I gave other games a try. Though if WoW ever went free to play…

So what’s your opinion? What method of monetization do you like best in games? If you’re in a particularly sharing mood, how much do you spend on games monthly/annually?

Checking Out Evolve Stage 2

evolve stage two

Evolve Goes Free To Play

Evolve (now Evolve Stage 2) has been out for some time now.  This past weekend it became the most recent game to transition to a Free-To-Play model. I downloaded it on Steam after one of my viewers recommended it, and was pleasantly surprised. It offers something new in the realm of video games, even though it is clearly built on the MOBA platform.  Traditionally you want balance in a game, but in Evolve, it’s four hunters versus one gigantic monster! It’s unbalanced for a reason! I have four hours invested so far, and wish I could be playing now instead of writing this.

Gameplay Exlpained

What you are doing depends on which side of the equation you are. For the Hunters, your objective is to track down and kill the monster before the monster gets loose. As the Monster, you want to kill and eat the local wildlife to evolve through two stages, then take out the generator that stands between you and your freedom! The Hunters follow your standard MOBA archetypes: Assault, Healer, Support, and a new one Tracker. Each archetype has several different characters, all with varying abilities. This allows for some really specialized teams and strategies. There are also several different types of monsters, although I only got to play one. I got trashed every time I played it, but it was still surprisingly fun.

Worth mentioning is that there are only four abilities. Whether you play the Hunter or the Monster, you only have four abilities to memorize. I like this streamlined approach. It makes Evolve a very easy game to jump into. This is a great selling point when trying to convince wary friends to try a new game. Additionally, both Hunters and Monsters have talent trees that you can use to further customize the gameplay of your chosen class. Extra movement speed and reduced damage are examples of what can be improved.

One small note about the map. There appears to be more than one map layout. While I have only played on one to date, there is an Vote to Skip option at the start of each game. I never clicked it because honestly, I am happy to learn one layout before I try and memorize multiple maps.

Happy Little Surprises

There were a lot of pleasant little features I enjoyed in this game. First, you can prioritize what role you want to play through a simple drag and drop menu. This allows for faster matchmaking, and allows us, the players, to be flexible. Another feature is the splash screens that highlight your recent successes. You can see how successful your teammates, or opponents, have been lately. It’s just a nice little bit of flourish I haven’t seen in a game before. The thing I liked most was how active you are as a player. The game mechanics keep you busy. Even when you’re down waiting to be revived, you get a pistol to keep shooting. While you’re tracking the monster, you general have a speed boost or tracking ability or SOMETHING to activate and keep you occupied during the otherwise dull moments.

evolve monster splash screen

Finally, I like the reward system as well. You get rewarded for ranking up, you get rewarded for completing daily challenges, you get rewarded for logging in! While none of that is revolutionary, you also get rewarded for secret achievements! For example, I went to change my profile picture to an AWESOME TRICERATOPS, and when I hit save I found that it was a secret achievement. In case i’m not clear, by rewarded I mean you get Silver Keys which is the game’s currency. These are just the highlights. There is plenty more to like about Evolve.

Graphics Galore

I really like the graphics in this game. There are a lot of light affects, mostly from the weapons, and they look especially nice. They stand out especially well against the drab environment backdrop. I was able to slap the settings to Ultra, and haven’t looked back. There were comments in my stream about how nice the game looked. The combat effects never slowed my machine down. My hardware is listed in the video at bottom if you’re interested.

Monetization

I want to reiterate again that Free To Play games aren’t really free. For this reason, I like to consider the developer’s monetization strategy before I partake of any F2P game.  Evolve is currently in beta right now, but their in-game store looks to have what I would consider a good setup. EVERYTHING is bought with Silver Keys. There is no special currency to buy, and no way possible to spend real money! I imagine it will eventually follow League of Legend’s model where you can buy all the heroes, but have to pay up for skins and customization. Let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake as the Dreadnought developers when making future changes to monetization.

Good Starting Point

There were a few bugs, as to be expected with a beta. I had a couple server hiccups, my option to skip talent selection during character select has gone missing, and things like the tutorials could be better placed for new players such as myself. It’s all really small stuff, and at this point I just breeze right through it. I’d consider it a successful and smooth launch overall. I never played it during the initial launch, but while I streamed it several of my viewers commented that the game had become bloated with too much DLC before. All of them had stopped playing. Now, however, some of them signaled that they might be interested in picking it up again. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign the core game is a proven model. I’ve made a quick video series of Hunter gameplay, Monster gameplay, the in-game store, as well as a very tight match that highlights just how much fun this game can be. If you have any questions, as always, leave ’em in the comments!

Feeling Better About Legion PvP

worgen death knight

Twitch Q&A Shines Better Light On My Future In Warcraft

I watched the World of Warcraft Legion PvP Q&A on Twitch recently. I was curious if they would respond at all to the out-pouring of players, myself included, hating on their Legion PvP progression plans. They haven’t, and it bothers me. It’s almost that feeling I got when Cataclysm was announced. That feeling when you see a train wreck coming, but you’re not in control of the train, and can’t do anyting to stop it. Well today, it feels like it was a giant communication error. I read the initial announcement several times, even sharing and discussing it with several people. I didn’t misread it, it was just explained poorly. Well today, it was explained, along with some other highlights I think are worth mentioning.

Better Skill, Better Luck

The original announcement said better players would get better gear. Which is dumb because why would a more skilled player need better gear to defeat lower skilled players? Well today it got clarified that better players just have a better CHANCE of getting better gear. That’s a pretty big gap in what was stated before. If this is the new system, I am fine with it. Blizzard should really work on it’s communication skills though, because their wording in the blog post says something completely different.

Tanks In PvP

I love tanking classes. While there was some good news for this, there was also some bad. Overall they are improving tanks in PvP. They want you to see more tank specs in the arena ladders. On the down side, they don’t want tanks to be top tier. This means they don’t want you to see tanks in MLG level competition. I feel like if you can get gladiator with a tank spec, then Blizzardhas done their job well enough. Additionally, Blizzard is trying to create new roles for tanks. They want them to be front line initiators like they are in Heroes of the Storm.

New PvP Experiences

They acknowledged there hadn’t been a new one in three years, and that it wasn’t a good thing. They do want to add a new battleground. The problem is they feel like if they add something new, that they would have to remove some of the old ones. To that I say, “Dear Strand of the Ancients. Die in a fire, and GTFO.” Alternately they could follow cues from Heroes of the Storm again and just make different battlegrounds available each week. Meanwhile, there are two new arenas coming! Get ready to FIGHT!

Another big announcement was made about world PvP zones. Wintergrasp, Tol Barad, and soon Ashran, were all just planned on being forgotten once new expansions hit. There are, however, discussions about revamping them to stay relevant with new content. How awesome would it be to go back to old world PvP zones? Just adding something else for PvPers to do that fits somewhere between BGs and open world PvP.

worgen warrior

Incentivizing Ranked Play

It was mentioned that they want to try and get the average player more interested in Ranked games. This means both Arena or Rated BGs. You get 50% more honor doing ranked games than regular. You also have a higher chance of getting higher ilevel gear from ranked games.

Arena Balance

This was kind of an off-handed remark, but it was a big deal to me. There will be less chance for gimicky teams to work in arenas. For example 2 healers, 1 DPS or 3 tanks. A new balance system is coming to make arenas matchmaking less of a crap shoot when it comes to odd team compositions. 3v3 is still the only type they plan to balance.

Increasing Diablo Influence

This new RNG gear system continues to allow a chance to get better gear. So while you might have a full set of ilevel 800 gear for example, you might get an 805 if you farm enough. This is exactly what I don’t like in Diablo 3. You keep grinding for marginal gear rewards with no end in sight. Also, you will be able to display pennants in Legion that become more ornate as you progress. Also exactly like in Diablo 3. This change could be cool though, depending on the visual implementation.

PvP Templates

I just heard about it today, and this is already probably my most looked-forward to feature. All classes will have the same exact stat distribution. Nobody will have more crit, less hit, more strength, stamina, or anything else. I always despised this part of PvP. It involved a level of testing I just wasn’t interested in doing. I want to spend my time playing World of Warcraft, not World of Calculators. This new PvP template system is a huge win. Additionally worth noting along these lines is that enchants will not affect instanced PvP. Reducing the variables in PvP goes a long way to helping balance things out, especially for new players. This is a great change.

Fewer Gripes, More Excitement

While I don’t like getting RNG gear, I have resigned myself to it. If that’s the worst change they make to the PvP system, I can live with it. There were a lot of other little changes that were cool, but not worth wasting your time on. I am cautiously optimistic about Legion PvP now. I’ll be looking forward to taking part in pretty much all the PvP stuff I can, including ranked play. You gotta take the good with the bad sometimes. Luckily, it now looks like the good outweighs the bad right now.

I’ll be jumping back into Azeroth soon FOR THE ALLIANCE! If you’re interesting in playing with me, let me know!

New Games Galore

My First Total War: Warhammer Campaign

Technically my second Total War campaign, but my first Warhammer one. Warhammer is a totally new IP for me. I’ve never touched anything from Games Workshop at all, for that matter. Total War: Warhammer has piqued my interest though. I’ve tagged Battlefleet Gothic Armada and the newly announced Dawn of War III on Stream. The story just seems to transition from fantasy to sci-fi, but I’m a sucker for the whole good versus evil trope.

In my campaign I chose the Empire, a nation of men, playing on Normal difficulty. Emperor Karl Franz was my starting Legendary Lord. I managed to complete the campaign in 106 turns. Another YouTuber commented on my final video that 106 turns was pretty good. That made me feel kinda proud, considering I could have finished it sooner if I had paid attention to the victory conditions. I also managed to finish it on my first try. Can’t say that about the Chaos campaign I am currently in the middle of now. I’m on the fourth or fifth try. I’ve literally lost count.

I uploaded all 22 videos of my Empire campaign into the playlist above on YouTube. That’s about 15 hours of total gameplay if you’ve got some time to kill. I’m trying to really work on my YouTube channel now. Splitting content between here, streaming, and YouTube is really quite time intensive. I’m trying to figure out which one, or combination, is the best use of my time. My life is filled with tons of little projects right now, with no end in sight. That’s why this blog has mostly changed to a personal updates theme.

Steam Summer Sale 2016

I want to remind you about the Steam summer sale going on right now. It looks to be a pretty good sale. It looks like Steam is trying something different again this year. All games that are going to be on sale, are on sale throughout the entire event. The only thing that changes is what’s featured on the front page. I kind of like the idea, although I do admit I miss the thrill of seeing what’s new every day at 1 PM EST. I plan to pick up one or two titles. I’m mostly waiting to see which game I’m playing now that I get bored with before July 4th.

Humble Bundle Changes

Another of my favorite places to get games is also apparently changing things up. Initially they had one new bundle every week, and one new bundle that lasted for two weeks. Then, a few months ago, they changed it to make each bundle last every two weeks. You still got a new bundle every week. Right now they only have one bundle up, but in the past week or so they’ve offered temporary bundles that, for example, lasted 72 hours. I also got a survey last week about the monthly bundle. It’s excited to see whatever changes they make to the monthly bundles, but I am actually sad that there isn’t a second regular bundle up right now. That’s some good marketing on their part. I also recently changed which charity my purchases help to a local charity. Yet another awesome feature brought to you by Humble Bundle. If you aren’t buying through them, you really should be.

Everything You Could Want To Know About DOOM (2016)

DOOM Campaign Gameplay Overview Video

I’ve gushed so much over DOOM on stream and Twitter that I totally forgot to put something here. Streaming takes up TONS of time, and I’ve also got an offline hobby, another special project, a full time job, and of course life itself to live. I’m finding myself more and more pressed for time. So it really sucked when I made my initial DOOM review video. It was bad. So I redid it into something I am a little more proud of. It’s spoiler free. I’m especially proud of the timing at the end.

If you watch the video, and are just totally compelled to try DOOM afterwards, you’re in luck. Currently the first chapter is free as a demo. Much like the first chapter was put out as shareware back in 1993. Lots of nostalgia there, and a very slick move by Bethesda. Do it soon though, they’re threatening to end it soon. Type “DOOM demo” on Steam, and that’ll get it for you.

The End of DOOM Credits

I found the ending credits to be really amazing, both graphics-wise and music-wise. It’s an incredible montage to both this game, and the ones that came before it. Incredibly well done all around.  I captured it all with pretty minimal commentary by me. There are spoilers, so watch at your own risk. It’s just under 4 minutes, but I turned off all the ads and stuff. I’ve already watched it three times personally.

Future DOOM Plans

I’m toying with redoing the game on stream again. I don’t think it was a big hit with my viewers, but being bad at a game can do that too. I haven’t played FPS games for years, RPG games even longer. I enjoyed the game a ton, and think I may enjoy doing it again on a higher difficulty.

SnapMap additions are coming. This is one of the big features I wanted to take advantage of when I bought DOOM. I have an idea already in my head, but the current features of SnapMap won’t quite let me bring it to life. Luckily an update later this month will open the features I need. I’m very excited to work on that, though it may have to be an off-stream project because again, not sure how popular level building is with viewers.

There’s also an expansion to come, and with that ending? Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Any world. Including Mars.

You can watch my entire DOOM campaign here!