The serious business of making games

It isn’t the worst, but it isn’t anywhere near good.

As Nesrie mentioned, he apologized for what he was caught for. He apologized for the he words, as though the words were the problem, and not the sentiment behind it, or the way it made people feel. He also says his remarks were insensitive, and says that he has encountered racism, but doesn’t explicitly connect them that his comments were racist.

He says he was trying to be edgy, but then says he has no idea people might have taken offense. If there’s no risk of offense, how was it being provocative?

He also calls out the people he works with…which is on its face a nice gesture, but also reads as a random note. “Hey, there’s other people who work here. Punish me, and you punish them too!”

Generally, a lot of apologies to the void. Sweeping general statements about offense and regret, without owning up to his role in the specifics.

Yeah, it’s a fairly classic “Shit, I got caught being an edgelord in front of my captive audience…hope you won’t ruin my business over it. Think of all these poor employees, but mostly just don’t ruin my business” type of apology.

It’s fucking 2019. Nobody isn’t aware that calling people “porch monkey” and “jew” is going to offend.

Yes. This one has way too many “Not that it makes it rights.”

You know, the “I thought that it was a private conversation (not that it makes it right), and I didn’t really mean it (not that it makes it right), and I was just trying to be funny (not that it makes it right), and I didn’t really realize how bad it sounded (not that it makes it right). . . .”

When you have too many “not that it makes it rights,” just stop with the attempts to disclaim things and make the fucking apology. You said shit you shouldn’t have said that was hurtful. Own it, and stop trying to subtly dodge the blame.

I didn’t know they had a game publishing arm, but still sad news.

Universal also apparently cancelled their contract with Starbreeze.

Adam Myers, CEO of Failbetter, responds to Alexis Kennedy’s story.

Back to the business of making and selling games, and Apple Arcade, which I’m very much not a fan of.

Here comes Google, charging into the mix:

I love the description of this service from the developer’s viewpoint:

How do I make money?
Developers earn a royalty that incorporates time subscribers spend in their app and captures how users value all types of content (from weather apps to epic endless runners). We’re continuously refining the model to make sure it fairly rewards titles that bring the highest user value.

Yeah - that algorithm is absolutely not going to have any unintended side-effects.

Profit = mind-numbing skinner-box game loops that force the user to engage with the system to the required amount set by the algorithm. IMHO, this and Apple Arcade will kill the mobile device market for indie game developers.

I don’t see the similarity to Apple Arcade beyond $4.99/mo and mobile. Apple pretty much doubled the number of good iOS releases this year with Arcade, and supposedly paid fairly for all of them and is continuing to do so. It doesn’t seem like Google Play is using this to actually seek out, pay for and bring new games to market.

That’s exactly the business model that developers feared. What that means is that everyone will just design their games around keeping users playing, no matter what. They might not have microtransactions, but they’ll have mechanics that require you to keep checking back hour after hour to maximize rewards.

Ugh.

This is kind of like a Spotify model right, which musicians also take issue with, off and on.

Maybe the best way for musicians to make money would be for each band to create their own music launcher.

Jay-Z was on board with that plan when he started TIDAL I think.

Google Play Pass: Yeah, this is terrible. I hope no one subscribes and this idea fails.

Well this is just anecdotal but the only apps I know everyone talks about around here, we’re talking age 10 to somewhere to post 60, are the free games. 4.99 a month from me would probably an improvement compared to the near zero I pay now. My purchase via Google Play is near zero, so yeah I won’t be subscribing.

I’ve purchased around 10 games I think.

Through the Ages + Expansion
Shards of Infinity
Solar Settlers
Pocket City
Age of Rivals
Human Resource Machine
Race for the Galaxy + Expansions
Dungeon Defense
Mario Run
Reigns
Templar Battleforce RPG
Crashlands
You Must Build a Boat
Talisman
Ruzzle

Okay, maybe more. I wouldn’t subscribe for these, I’d just keep buying games like them.

Ok, you made me look in my purchase history. I bought a lot more back in the day when I first got my original Google Nexus back in September 2012:

Ski Safari
Where’s My Perry?
Cut the Rope Gold
Pool Break Pro 3D Billiards Snooker
Dragon, Fly! Full
Rebuild
Amazing Alex
Dungeon Village
Cut the Rope: Experiments
RPG Symphony of Eternity
Soduku
Granny Smith
Angry Birds Space Premium

Those are all listed at 0.25c each. Must have been some kind of bundle.

Since then:
Great Big War Game
Guns n Glory WW2 Premium
Super Hexagon
Rayman Jungle Run
Fieldrunners 2
PvZ2 - Squash
PvZ2 - Jalapeno
Tetrobot and Co
PvZ2 - Pean-nut
Dungeon Warfare
Mini Metro
PvZ2 - Bonus Seed Slot + Snow Pea
Super Mario Run
PvZ2 - Cactus
PvZ2 - Grapeshot
PvZ2 - Starter bundle
PvZ2 - Electric Peashooter Bundle
PvZ2 - Power Lily
PvZ2 - Explode-O-Nut
PvZ2 - Blueberry
Fiz: Brewery Management Game
Kingdom Rush Frontiers - Hero Pack 1

Ok, I guess I mostly bought plants for PvZ2.

Since 2013, I made a total of 2 purchases that were greater than 4.99, one for Stardew Valley because I buy that on… everything, and Through the Ages. Pretty much if any developed got me as part of this 4.99 subscription, they’d make more money off me than they do now. I’ve made zero micro trans in any F2P games I occasionally play. This may… change with Marvel StrikeForce; we’ll see.

I’m thinking this won’t really draw F2P players and affect micro trans. Will it be new enough, have enough for someone paying like 10 dollars a month, but if they could draw someone that’s not really paying now… that’s a gain even if it is only cents, because nickles and dimes… is more than zero. Generally, people don’t pay as much attention to subscriptions either. They just… keep paying.

How do I make money?
Developers earn a royalty that incorporates time subscribers spend in their app and captures how users value all types of content (from weather apps to epic endless runners). We’re continuously refining the model to make sure it fairly rewards titles that bring the highest user value.

I can’t decide which is more Orwellian: claiming their black box is fair or claiming it measures “highest user value”.

Being honest, this is simply what game publishers have brought on themselves (and the developers). And frankly, it’s not just publishers.

When you get greedy and just getting a one time purchase isn’t enough money, so now suddenly you need to capture a monthly revenue flow, well, the only way to secure monthly revenue flow is to create products that will keep eyeballs glued to the screen over time.

It’s the modern version of Dickens creating serials. Subscription based products are frankly gross, both for the consumer and the artist.

But if you want it to stop, then stop trying to squeeze perpetual money out of the consumer.

It’s a little more complicated than that. Gamers are fickle and often demand improved graphics, improved rewards, etc. The content creation is extremely expensive and the task of satisfying market desires in a world where you are review bombed when you don’t meet the expectations of some random kids makes development extremely expensive. The consequence of chasing the next best thing creates a vicious cycle that is closely monitored by unregulated communities of online assholes. The monetization practices grew out of the need to meet consumer demands and still turn a profit. They are unethical, but, to date, they’re almost a requirement for hitting revenue targets. Part of it is developer greed, but part is the bizarre pressure of the community of gamers and the need for large marketing budgets to be seen.