Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – The Paywall Cometh

Ultimately this is a business decision, to best support RIFT moving forward into the future. We’re on the cusp right now of RIFT’s 5th Anniversary, and we’ve got great stuff planned for 2016. But that stuff takes engineers and designers and CS and QA and a whole lot of other folks.

-Trion Worlds, on their voidstone plan

Free to play must really be an incredible pain in the ass as a developer because, if nothing else, players will literally assume you mean “free” when you say “free.”

And, seriously, if you’re going to start in with, “Well, “free” doesn’t really mean “free” because…” just stop right there.  The idea was to provide content that players would feel was worth paying for.  If enough people aren’t paying, maybe it isn’t your player base that is the issue.

Or, maybe it is.

As we saw last year with the PlanetSide 2really struggling” post, some players are just never going to spend a dime on your game, no matter the incentives, if you are giving it away for free.  Some are poor.  Some are cheap.  Some just like the challenge of the limited free mode.  And some, I am sure, just want to take advantage.

You can get angry about this, spit nails, and use words like “entitled” all you want, but it was the company which made the game that set the payment terms, not the player.  If you are going to blame the customer for taking you up on your offer, looking in the mirror for the real guilty party is all I can suggest.

As noted in that “really struggling” post, no amount of incentives will induce some players to pay.  And if you cannot induce people with the carrot, well, there is always the stick.  And so Trion is making a change and removing the ability to unlock new equipment slots introduced with the last expansion through a long but free grind, thus forcing players who want to get the unlock from the cash store or by subscribing.  Sounds like a paywall.

Yes, there is a work around still.  Trion’s statement goes on to make the claim that you could earn the in-game cash to buy a REX, the sort-of Rift version of EVE Online’s PLEX, wherein you can use in-game currency to subscribe, more quickly than you could grind out voidstones in order to unlock those  same slots, all of which makes you wonder why they would bother.

Oh, right, somebody had to pay real world money for a REX for it to get on the market, and creating demand for REX will increase its value in-game, which makes it more likely that paying players will buy more.

So the slot unlocks remain free for some, so long as somebody out there is paying.  A somewhat porous paywall, but a wall all the same, and possibly a harbinger of things to come.

I’m really neither here nor there on whether this change is an outrage or a reasonable adjustment.  Even World of Warcraft has their WoW Token offer which they push vigorously enough. So is the old Rift motto getting more or less true as time goes by?

No, not Azeroth!

No, not Azeroth!

Posting this is more a matter of noting how the F2P MMO market is continuing to evolve as the difference between competing games seems to diminish.  The trend will no doubt continue.

But still, it isn’t like Trion is doing anything really outrageous like, say, putting lock boxes inside of other lock boxes.  That requires a whole different level of “customer focus.”

Addendum: And it looks like Trion is on the same track with Trove.

Quote of the Day – What Should Early Access Be?

For us, Early Access is not something that should be taken lightly. It should be considered a final release in the sense that you’re on a path to finishing the game and you’re going to get it out there.

Studio Wildcard co-founder Jesse Rapczak over at gameindustry.biz

We are in the age of early access for video games, and Steam has been a huge enabler on this front.  When going through my queues during the winter sale I saw this plastered on many a page.

Warning: Not a finished product

Warning: Not a finished product

Steam has a statement about Early Access (that “Learn more” link), but it is really up to the developer as to when they go for early access and what it means.

The interview with Rapczak linked above represents the world from which I came… more than 25 years ago at this point… where you don’t give half finished items to customers, that you let them in only when you think you’re ready to ship but want feedback before the official launch.

And this seems to have worked out pretty well so far for Studio Wildcard’s game Ark: Survival Evolved.  They wanted/needed feedback as opposed to funding to finish the project and, judging from what I have heard about the game, things have worked out very well for them.

Of course, not every developer has the luxury of delaying funding until the game is nearly ready to go.  There are some indie projects out there that need the dollars to just keep going.

But there are established companies out there that ought to be able to get further along without the cash infusion.  Derek Smart said he was charging $99 to be in the Line of Defense early access program because he didn’t want any freeloaders using his resources.  A $99 barrier to beta so that only the truly motivated would join in.

Then there is Daybreak (née SOE) and its two Early Access children, Landmark and H1Z1.

Landmark is two years in with no release in sight, while H1Z1 will be a year in Early Access next week.  Certainly Landmark seems to be the poster child for how to build some excitement quickly and then let it dissipate slowly as development grinds on for years.  I am actually much happier about the state of EverQuest Next.  Yeah, we’ve been talking about it for more than five years now, but at least nobody has paid for it only to lose interest in a less than half done product.

Meanwhile, I don’t think it is unreasonable to be concerned about the future Landmark.  What happens if too many Early Access customers lose interest before it launches?  Do you ship a product that can’t keep enough of your truly dedicated fans?

And then there is H1Z1, which at least seems to have some excitement around it now and again… there is at least enough activity to keep its subreddit aboil.  Then again, according to the official statement on Steam, it was supposed to go “live” last year.  Of course, Daybreak apparently told their lords and masters at Columbus Nova Prime that they had shipped the product already… like 11 months ago.  There were probably some revenue recognition issues which lead to that, but at least somebody there thinks the game is live already despite the soon to be year old Early Access banner on its Steam page.

We live in interesting times when it comes to game development funding, with crowd funding and Early Access, and variations on the theme all looking to get money up front for project to be delivered down the road… often much further down the road that originally estimated.

Sometimes it works… and even works well.  As noted, Ark: Survival Evolved seems to be doing well, and of course Minecraft started out that way and is now so ubiquitous that I see references to it or related products everywhere I go. (Your favorite game may be popular, but it likely isn’t on the shelves at Target, doesn’t have a series of LEGO kits devoted to it, or its own market segment devoted to hosting servers.  Minecraft has quietly taken over my daughter’s generation.)

But sometimes Early Access just seems like a good way to make a quick buck as your product peaks too soon.  Community involvement and growth is one thing, but too long in that pre-launch state can take the bang out of the eventual go-live.  And if you’re charging money, you reap the press response you sow with your state of readiness, which may set the tone for your product.

Quote of the Day – Your Name May Not Be a Name

Your user name may not be discriminating, unethical or otherwise offensive and may not contain a name.

-LEGO, on changes to their terms of service.

The fine people at The Lego Group dropped me a line to remind me that they have changed their terms of services.

LEGO_Logo_300

They were concerned apparently because I had not yet read and accepted them.  Literal truth.

You are receiving this email because we have changed our user terms for your LEGO ID and we can see that you haven’t read and accepted them yet.

I haven’t read or accepted them because I haven’t logged on to anything LEGO or LEGO related in a while.  My daughter is now a teenager and far more interested in makeup, clothes, and what her friends are posting on Instagram than getting plastic blocks and building things.  She does occasionally get wistful when she  sees the LEGO minifigures… she keeps the golden C3P-0 on her desk… but not enough to actually dust them off and do something with them.  I should go do another minifigure roundup this year and drag her along.

Anyway, The Lego Group was kind enough to append a short list of the items that they felt were the most important of the changes to the terms.  Number one on the list is quoted at the top of this post, and it makes my head hurt.

I get “discriminating,” though through the quirkiness of the English language and custom, we tend to use that word to indicate a positive.  If you have “discriminating taste” it is a good thing, right?  So I might have phrased that differently… maybe “promotes discrimination” since “discrimination” is the usage that is always negative… but I get what they were shooting for.  Marketing and legal probably spent hours on that word alone.

I can also see “unethical.”  If you pick a user name that makes you look like an employee of The Lego Group, that would be well on the way towards “unethical,” though I still think you have to try and use it to misrepresent yourself intentionally before we get fully in the zone.  Whatever, I get it.

“Offensive” is a minefield in this day and age.  I dare anybody to come up with a workable definition of what “offensive” means in a world where people are offended that somebody has the last name “Lynch.”  But they have to cover themselves, and now they can site this statement if somebody complains about.  Yet again, I get it.

But then we get to the last phrase in that sentence (which should be separated with an Oxford comma dammit) and I start to think that they are trolling me.  My user name, the name with which I identify myself on the LEGO site, must not contain a NAME?

I might understand “must not contain your real name” or “must not include your surname” as stipulations, but they appear to be literally saying, “Your name… it may not be a name.”  That quote at the top, it is directly from the section of the terms to which the user is specifically required to agree.

If I go with all numbers, will that still be a name?  It all seems pretty silly to me.

Quote of the Day – Greedo vs. John Wayne

“Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?’ ” Lucas asks. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne? And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”

-Interview with George Lucas, Washington Post

While we’re on the run up to a new Star Wars movie, one that George Lucas had nothing to do with, I figure I might as well abused everybody’s interest in the series.

And it has been a long time indeed...

Back when George Lucas had an email account…

So there is that story and interview featuring George Lucas over at the Washington Post.  You should probably go read it if Star Wars holds any sway over your life, and not just the excepts floating around the internet.

Of course, the big one seems to be GL trying to justify why he changed Star Wars in his 1997 edit to have Greedo shoot first.  In that he invokes the westerns of his youth.  Unfortunately, I watched a lot of those same westerns, and as I recall it, if the other guys goes for his gun you’re cleared to shoot.  Waiting for the other guy to shoot first gets you dead.  And since Greedo was already waving a blaster in Han Solo’s face, Han always seemed justified in my mind, by the code of the old west or any other reasonable standard.  I thought that back in 1977 and I thought it again when watching Star Wars again last week.

More a case of GL overthinking things in my opinion.  Ah well.  I own three versions of the scene, one on VHS, one on DVD, and one on BluRay.  In the end, it was a fleeting moment in the movie that didn’t have a large impact other than to set the tone that Han Solo was working some tough people.

More interesting perhaps was this tidbit:

Partly so he doesn’t have to read the worst about himself and his movies, Lucas says he has assiduously avoided the Internet since 2000 — no Facebook, no Twitter, no e-mail even — but that doesn’t mean he avoids people.

Because, on the internet, we are horrible.  But it seems that when he meets people in person, they mostly gush about how big of a deal Star Wars was to them.   We’re much better face to face… most of the time.  All of which is a bit sad.

Anyway, I found the article interesting, including his somewhat mixed feelings about the new movie.  Disney didn’t use the ideas GL provided and declined to bring him around to advise, so this will be truly somebody else’s movie.

Quote of the Day – Let’s Not Talk About Money

I am tired of having my conversations with players be about the money. I want it to be 100% about the game.

John Smedley, Twitter

I can buy that… so to speak.  I’m tired of games constantly reminding me that I need to buy things.  And a lot of people seem to be jumping on Smed’s post about not going with the F2P model after being such a proponent of the business model.  SynCaine, Keen, and Massively OP all went there pretty quickly, each with their own take. (Oh, and I missed Jewel somehow.)

Not that Smed has ceased to be a fan of the model.

I still think F2P is a great model, but for the reasons I stated we’re going in a different direction.

John Smedley, Twitter

Sure.  Certainly some companies have made it work very well.  It is hard to argue with success.  But I am not sure where to go with this next quote.

too many people not related to development end up having a lot to say about the monetization part of games and that sucks shit.

John Smedley, Twitter

My gut response to that is, “Good.”  Part of me is glad that making the decision to bring real-world money transactions into a game so that they are pretty much a constant and intrusive part of the experience doesn’t come without cost to the developer.  I don’t know if he is more concerned about marketing, accounting, senior management, investors, or the customers, or all of the above, but when playing the game is about revenue, as opposed to just buying the game or subscribing to the game, then of course it becomes a focus all around.

Another strike against anybody arguing that business model is somehow separate and distinct from the game itself.  It ain’t, not for the customer, not for the company, and, as we now see, not for the developer either.

And some day Smed will actually have a game to talk about, now that we’ve beat business model to death… though if it ends up not being $20, expect more NGE-level rage! Hah!

Quote of the Day – The Power of Fallout 4

Starting at 5am traffic began to drop, down as much as 10% from 7am till noon. In the afternoon traffic returned to normal, but after 6pm it dropped again when we assume that 9-5 workers arrived home and fired up their games.

Pornhub post, Fallout 4 Causes Fall in Traffic

That’s right, the Fallout 4 launch was so big that the internet’s biggest porn site felt it.

By the way, that link itself is safe for work, but it goes to the freaking Pornhub domain, so what do you imagine your wife/boss/IT department will think you’re doing?

Even he doesn't think you're there for the articles...

Even he doesn’t think you’re there for the articles…

Remember, this is the internet where, at one point, a research team needed a group of young adult males who had never “consumed” any porn for control group for a study … and came up dry.  They couldn’t find anybody who met that criteria.

Lest you think that Fallout 4 changed the internet for good however, there is also this quote from the same post.

After midnight it seems like everyone finally took a break, and traffic jumped as high at 15% above daily norms.

A little something to take the edge off and help you get to sleep after a long evening of gaming?

Quote of the Day – Seems Legit

Seems Legit

-Manfred Sideous, on being removed from CSMX

Well, I have to say that at least he avoided drama.

Quoted for posterity

Quoted for posterity

In case you missed it, earlier today CCP Leeloo posted the following to the forums:

Hi everyone,

I am here today to let you know that we have removed Manfred Sideous from CSM X.

The reasoning for his removal will of course remain confidential between CCP and Manfred, and we would like to thank him for his contributions during his term with CSM X.

– CCP Leeloo

And so it goes.  A permanent attending member removed.  So that is Gorga and Manfred… is UAxDEATH still there?  I know some were asking for him to be ousted at one point.

I know I don’t take the Council of Stellar Management all that seriously for a variety of reasons, but if this keeps up the phrase “removed from the CSM” is going to be as easy to take in stride as “indicted Illinois governor.”  Just something to be expected.

Hat tip to EVE Hermit