Tag Archives: Ars Technica

The More Things Change… Oh, And Marketing 101

It was just over five years ago I was writing about a free to play first person shooter, Battlefield Heroes, causing a furor because they changed up the game by making things more favorable for people who paid versus those who played for free.

The hue and cry was… something.  We’re all familiar with the term “pay to win” at this point.  No lesser source than the generally respected Ars Technica ended their article on the topic with a dire statement about how this change might end the game.

Here we are today and there is something of an outcry because SOE just did something marginally similar by decreasing the effectiveness of a few implants in PlanetSide 2 in order to be able to put some Station Cash only implants into the game without making them too over powered.

People hate when you nerf stuff, and when you nerf stuff in favor of a cash shop item, people will rightly suspect that the move was motivated by money.  Also, pay to win.  Smed, being Smed, stood up and admitted as much, that they want to make money off of the game.

Unfortunately, Smed made a classic “land war in Asia” level PR mistake when he used somebody else’s terminology in his response.  And so Massively got to use the term “Money Grab” in its headline.  You take your click bait where you can get it. (But hey, look at Conner over at MMO Fallout who when with Smed’s real statement for the headline!)

Massively doesn’t actually include the tweet in its article, otherwise it might be clear that it was a direct response to somebody’s accusation… basically, echoing somebody else’s words.

But the quote is fair game as anything Smed says about the game in public is there for everybody to see.  He should have known better that to feed the press a line like that because, as has been demonstrated in the past, that will become the headline and will effectively deliver the opposite message.  People see the denial and will immediately think “PlanetSide 2 Money Grab!”

Live and learn.

As for the dire news five years back about Battlefield Heroes, the last I checked it was still up and running which, considering it is an EA game and they will close down anything that isn’t making enough money, says something.  There is an appropriate Mark Twain quote out there that I think fits the situation.

Meanwhile, the Ars Technica article with the dire prediction for the game is still up and available on their web site.  Because that is what journalists do, they stand by their work as it appeared in the moment.  Or, if they really screw up, they issue a correction.  They don’t, you know, delete their shit and hope nobody notices.  That is what hacks do.

And the world continues to turn.

Quote of the Day – Difficulty is the Point

But you should never forget the fundamental contract every game seeks to forge with its players: accept this world and these obstacles in the name of experience, and make of them what you will. Difficulty is the point, not the problem.

-Tom Chatfield, Ars Technica article When it comes to video games, difficulty is the point—not the problem

An interesting read that explores how video games have a different relationship with the end user compared to various other mediums.  I like that he dips into things like nostalgia for Vanilla WoW.  Things difficult at the time… or difficult relative how things are now… look better in hindsight.  Things annoying at the time often become the best tales after the fact.  That, in turn, also pokes a bit at the game guides question I suppose, as presenting things to overcome and then handing out (or selling) the teacher’s answer key no doubt changes the relationship.

Of course, when speaking of gaming difficulty, I suppose that it says something that the graphic chosen for the article was an EVE Online desktop picture.

Lost in Space...

Lost in Space…

There is difficulty, and then there is the passive-aggressive, near hostility with which EVE Online greets the new player.  EVE Online is a game where I find simple travel to be post-worthy at times.

SOE Goes Into Real Estate Speculation

It is one thing when Bhagpuss mentions that you are charging money for access to the alpha of your free to play game.

But when Ars Technica runs a headline about it, you have achieved a new level of notoriety.

Ars Technica Reports...

Ars Technica Reports…

SOE’s Landmark adjunct to EverQuest Next has a set of offers… Founder’s Packs… up now selling access to alpha and closed beta for the project.

Yes, there are other goodies included, some cosmetic gear and storage space (no doubt there is a clue in that as to what constraints they plan to use to drive people to the Station Store), but the key seems to be early access to a free to play tool in order to help create items for EverQuest Next, a free to play game.

And the most interesting item on the list is the head start bonus for those willing to part with $100.

Head Start Bonus

Head Start Bonus

I have not been paying attention to Landmark, but I seem to recall something about some plots being more valuable/useful/desirable than others.  Maybe not “pay to win,” but it is certainly buying some sort of preferential treatment.  But that’s the business model.  You have to make your money where you can.

In real estate the mantra is “Location, location, location” while in free to play it is “Monetize, monetize, monetize.”  It is just odd to see the two combined.

This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I was wondering if SOE could keep the level of excitement up for EverQuest Next. Anyway, I can wait for when this free to play tool is actually free.  Others seem more excited about the offer.

(Bonus points for SOE if somehow ProSieben.Sat1 access is screwed up.)