Zipper761882 / Member

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Zipper761882 Blog

The Fine Art of Freemium

I don't have a problem with the freemium model, as long as it stays reasonable. Yes, I said it. This is an extremely touchy subject, and I figure its the perfect one to get back to my blogging(like anyone ever reads it anyway). But I digress...

Honestly, I don't really have a problem with any of the "free" games really, as long as their prices are reasonable. I have been gaming for like 25 years(I will be 32 this month). In that time, I have watched gaming grow up. Things have become more and more sophistcated, and overall fun. Yes I said it. Modern games ARE more fun than their older counterparts.

For many years I allowed myself the elitist attitude that older is better. Then recently I went back and tried to play Final Fantasy VII. I was absolutely shocked when I couldn't even bring myself to get to the end of disc 1. Sure, I have played the living crap out of the game, so maybe I am just too sated to enjoy it. However, I really don't think that is the case. Sure, the story and music still pop just much today as they did in 1997. However, the rest of the game is just pathetic compared to most modern rpgs(let's not talk about FFXIII please).

My point is that as the technical level of games has grown, so to has their cost to develop. Sure, it is still possible to turn out amazing games with a small team or even a single person. The indie scene proves this everyday. However, to make a blockbuster AAA title it costs millions. Publishers and developers need to find creative ways to increase profits in order to keep up with the increasing costs. Thus, new sales models are born.

Now, as I said before, I don't have a problem with many freemium or f2p games. However, the costs of some are simply outrageous. Compare the cost of your average Facebook or mobile game to that of something like a free to play mmorpg. If I wanted to play for say 5 hours straight on Farmville 2, it would cost literally hundreds of dollars. Compare that to something like The Secret World or The Old Republic, where I can put hundreds of hours into them without spending a dime(minus the initial buy in some cases).

Now which game have I spent more money on? Believe it or not, it is the one that lets me CHOOSE what to buy, and not be forced into it. This is where the freemium model falls apart. I am currently playing Guild Wars 2. Granted the initial cost of the game was much higher than a freemium, but it's business model is similar. It is not uncommon for me to plunk down $20 every couple days, or once a week for gems(the GW2 version of virtual currency). The same went for The Secret World, The Old Republic, Lord of the Rings Online, and many other games that have used the freemium model.

So why am I willing to pay that much? For starters, the quality of gameplay, which is vastly superior to most of the freemium games out there. The virtual currency on those games enhances your play experience, but does not dictate it. This is where the line is drawn. When you are forced to spend money to keep playing, it becomes WAY too expensive in many cases for the average consumer.

There is a fine line between forcing someone to spend money, and coaxing it out of them gradually. It is the freedom of choice, and it makes all the difference. Gamers are going to be much more willing to shell out $10 for some extra goodies that they are just to keep the game running, no matter how fun that game may be. Sure, some consumers may be able to afford a $500 session on any of the 'ville games on Facebook. For the average gamer(and I use that term lightly) though, that is simply unacceptable. The freemium sales model is still in it's infancy. I think as it evolves, more developers and publishers are going to become better at toeing that fine line. I simply cannot see the "pay now or quit" model being anymore than a niche market in the future. Not when many games are already able to walk the line so much easier.

My 2 cents, for what their worth.

Zipper

Story Time

I have a dream.

I have a dream, that one day, developers will stop consolizing PC games. I have a dream that one day developers will start taking credit for their mistakes as well as their successes. Most importantly though, I have a dream that one day when a developer messes up a sequel to a great game, they they won't use the excuse of "allowing players to focus more on the story". If what I truly cared about in my games were the stories, I would be watching movies, not playing a game.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good story as much as the next guy. I've been gaming for 22 years and I have laughed, cried, and felt rage over some of the plot lines and plot twists in games. What I don't like is the disturbing trend I have been seeing lately of developers cutting gameplay elements to focus on stories. We are playing video games. We get off our 9-5 grind and come home and expect to PLAY a game.

A perfect example of this trend is Final Fantasy XIII. Now I've watched the Final Fantasy series become less and less like a game for awhile now. This is ok so long as the gameplay that is left is great and very immersive. Final Fantasy XIII was one long hallway with boring cutscenes and barely a leveling system. Compare this to thethrill of say Final Fantasy VII, where they struck the perfect mix of gameplay and story. Heck I will even go newer with Final Fantasy XII. I really thought they were heading back in the right direction with the series, until XIII came out.

Today we have games coming out like L.A. Noire. Can you really call a game like that a game at all? It seems more like a choose your own adventure detective novel to me. Will it be fun? That remains to be seen I guess. What about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Now this is an mmorpg that is hoping to bridge the gap between single player and multiplaer gaming. However with all its flashy cutscenes and dialog wheels, how much "game" is actually there? This remains o be seen, howevee being a fan of mmorpgs, Bioware, Star Wars, and the old KotOR games, I really hope it has enough gameplay buried in its flashy story to hook people. Heaven knows we need some game to get us away from World of Warcraft.

This ended up turning into a kind of mixed topic rant here but I doubt anyone actually reads this anyway. Have fun kiddies and until next time, keep your joystick clean!

WoW Has No Story?

Not too long ago, against my better judgement, I got into an argument with a couple people online about the amount of story and lore in World of Warcraft. The user You_2 wrote that WoW lacks a "progressive" story. To be more specific he said:

"Plot and backstory are two completely different things. Sure if you're obsessed about something you can prob find a whole book on it somewhere. And I'm not saying that WoW has no plot whatsoever. If you read my previous comment I stated that it lacks a "progressive" storyline. I've played through both the Warcraft games (which did have a progressive story) and WoW, and WoW really lacked the "progressive" side that a good plot requires to pull you in. You shouldn't have to read thousands of pages of lore. A good developer incorporates an enthralling plot seamlessly into a game."

Now the user named morgonstjarnan went on to say:

"And the fact the you say World of Warcraft has the best story EVAR tells me you are, also, "either A:Illiterate, B:Ignorant, or C:Never played video games at all." Seriously, WoW is an enormous success, but because people have great time playing with their friends, not because it tugs at your heartstrings reading the lines of text about how you need to collect more candles by rekilling respawning kobolds. Compared to Planescape, Uncharted, or Mass Effect, only a 12 year old could think the story of WoW is "the best", bad guy named "Deathwing" included. Lolz, really?"

Ok now I am going to give both of you people and anyonereading a little tidbit of info. Direct your browser to the World of Warcraft website. Find the section where the Lore is. Read it. When you are done reading ALL OF IT, come back here and continue to read this.

Finished reading? Now let me remind you that what you just read is everything that happened in the World of Warcraft prior to the game even launching. Ok, let me address You_2. First you tell me that plot and backstory are two different things. I will not link another definition from websters but let me just say that a BACKSTORY is PART OF THE PLOT. Without backstory there CAN BE NO PLOT. Now as for that magic word "progressive", lets define it shall we? Websters.com says this:

1pro·gres·sive adj \prə-ˈgre-siv

Definition of PROGRESSIVE

1a: of, relating to, or characterized by progress

Now we will need to define "progress".1prog·ress noun \ˈprä-grəs, -ˌgres, US also & British usually ˈprō-ˌgres\Definition of PROGRESS1a (1): a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant (2): a state procession b: a tour or circuit made by an official (as a judge) c: an expedition, journey, or march through a region 2: a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) 3: gradual betterment; especially: the progressive development of humankind

Now since the first meaning clearly doesn't fit let us assume you are referring to 2 and 3. World of Warcraft has no forward moving story you say? Really? Let me give you a very brief rundown of plot changes since WoW launched. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt even and start with just Burning Crusade.

Burning Crusade: The Burning Legion returns. Illidan is finally killed, after years of struggle. Kil Jaeden is almost brought to Azeroth. These all seem to be evolving huh?

Wrath of the Lich King: Seeking to finally put and end to the Lich King and the Scourge, the Alliance and Horde leaders, along with the help of the Kirin Tor, take on Icecrown Citadel. After a highly climactic battle, Arthas is finally killed. But guess what? We find out that there has to be a Lich King or all hell will break loose. So as to not ruin the story for anyone who hasn't see it I won't spoil the surprise, but lets just say someone else takes the throne. Seems like an evolution to me...

Cataclysm: Deathwing returns to Azeroth. The world is shattered. What is left is an Azeroth on the brink of chaos. Really sounds like an evolution to me.

These are the most BASIC summaries I can give, and the actual plot changes with each expansion are enormous. Anyone who can't see that is really truly stupid. If you people would actually read the quest text instead of just accepting and following Quest Helper everywhere, you would know these plot details. So to You_2 and morgonstjarnan thank you for showing us how smart you really are! Oh and btw You_2 there were more than 2 other Warcraft games. Really you are a smart cookie though.