Friday, September 12, 2014

Quick Hit: Subscription model vs Cash Shop

Proponents of cash shops,  F2P, P2W, and microtransactions often cite the idea that they like these models because they value real money over time invested in the game.

The rationale is that real money and time are both currencies.  When we are younger, we have time but no money.  As we get older, we have money but no time.

So for those with money and no time, spending money through cash shops is seen as a very viable and practical way to gain a level footing with those who are spending time.

But here's the rub and why this rationale is wrong.

In the scenario of a subscription model where we spend "time" to gain our in-game advantages, the incentive for the dev is to keep you playing and resubbed.  While this has it's obvious flaws, the dev also has an incentive to make any grind as fun and interesting as possible.

Whereas, in the second scenario where he wants you to spend money to gain an advantage, he wants it to be as painful as possible without causing you to quit.  Games are carefully designed to "hook you" and then make you frustrated enough to want to spend money to AVOID whatever blocker they have placed in your path.

So what kind of exploitation do you prefer?  The kind where the dev bribes you with Pavlovian treats to keep you subbed or the kind where they withhold the treats unless you pay $5 to get your fix?

I'll take the bribe.



Coreus said...

I think you're looking at this from a really cynical position. The simple truth is that a really good game negates all of this trivia.

Bad games are bad games are bad games. Talking about them at all is giving them too much credit.

And it sucks that money is so important that people go to extreme lengths to minmax it, but that's nothing specific to video games.

Until we figure out a way for the government to compensate software developers on our behalf (BBC Games, anyone?), we are going to have to pay for our games somehow; whether it's spending money for a box/subscription or spending our time populating the game. The payment model will not affect the quality of the game unless the developer is totally clueless to begin with, in which case see above re: bad games.

I think that gamers are an oversensitive bunch (I don't have to back that statement up, do I?) and anything that forces them to think differently is too easily seen as a threat.

sid67 said...

The simple truth is that a really good game negates all of this trivia. Bad games are bad games are bad games.

Except that the pricing model can turn a good game into a bad game. The most obvious would be blatant exploitation but let's set aside all of my cynicism and criticism about developer incentive.

As pointed out by TAGN on his blog, getting asked for real-life money while your playing a "game" takes you "out-of-the-game". It pops your fun balloon to get asked for money.

Even if your willing to pay, it's not unlike your mom/wife asking you to take out the trash in the middle of an exciting level.