Venting my frustrations with PC game-dev

Bungie did this with Halo 2 map packs, didn’t they?

I have no idea how it worked out for them (apart from the inevitable bitching and whining from the fanbase), but it’s definitely been tried.

They also did this with the gears of war bonus content.

There are so many different new pricing structures. Free and charge for cosmetic changes. Free and charge for greater flexibility of your character. One of the things Microsoft has done really well with Live is figuring out different ways to monetize the content. And they actually charge for the games.

If you’re going to charge on a per-usage basis for an FPS, then from my point of view you need to:

  • Do more than just provide a server list as your service, or I’m going to feel ripped-off at being charged for a trivial service and the bnetd-alikes will come crawling out of the woodwork. Being official servers with authenticated, non-pirated clients isn’t enough by itself, because then I feel like I’m being punished for not being a pirate.

  • Not be a barrier for getting into multiplayer. I think I played four or five FPSes over the last year, and although I didn’t spend a lot of time in multiplayer, I wouldn’t have bothered at all if it had required registering to pay for each of them. Some kind of common payment infrastructure that ties into your regular persistent-stat tracking account would help, but it would have to be universal. Get three or four competing services like that going, and I’m not longer interested in the hassle again.

IMO, what Steam offers for TF2 is worth paying for. Stat tracking, servers, cheat protection, etc. It’s worth it, in the end. Plus constant fixes, updates, new maps?

IMO, PC gamers have become spoiled, expecting that kind of stuff free all the time. It’s a rare company that has enough assets to constantly produce that stuff without much added income.

If I can run my own server, pay for my own hosting bandwidth, and connect from my own client where I’m also paying for bandwidth, I ain’t about to pay for the ability to hop in a pickup game of the latest online shooter. It’s not as if stat tracking hasn’t been available for countless games via the mod community for years.

If devs want to experiment w/ some sort of opt-in model ala Hellgate: London (great model for success there, huh?) which is the only place that will provide ‘official’ stat-tracking, sure, go for it.

You make it sound like bonus content, rather than stuff designed to lure you into buying the thing in the first place.

You are saying that you wouldn’t have bought TF2 without that stuff?

I call you fucking crazy if you think that. I would also suggest that you missed everything that’s awesome about the game.

Hyperbole vs Hyperbole!


My experiences where based on two of my own machines along with two other friends. The game just didn’t crash unless we tried to use a cd hack. I love CD hacks, but I am not stupid enough to blame the game if that’s what causes a crash. Obviously other people are not.

I have spent a metric fuckton of time (not hyperbole) playing TQ. It’s stable, and outside of performance problems before a patch or two, problem free.

Could people stop saying I’m playing my online FPS games for free? I remember paying for those games at the counter or the checkout screen. They didn’t feel free when I whipped out the credit card. They don’t feel free now.

The whole idea of paying for something in a box and not paying for continued use is not an “accident” of how the industry evolved. It’s the way we pay for goods in the real world. I don’t pay Pfaltzgraff every time I eat dinner. I don’t pay John Deere every time I mow my lawn. I don’t pay Logitech every time I move my mouse. Goods have a value and that value is very much influenced by the amount of use I expect it to get out of it.

The idea of moving a traditional good to a service sounds like a fine idea on paper and in the board room but attempts to do so will be fraught with failures over the next ten years. Most people ignore the real problem. It isn’t an issue of finding a way to steal every penny from your hardcore and dedicated audience, often creating massive barriers to entry in the process. It’s about figuring out a way to get people who aren’t buying your game to do so.

I’m really sorry to see the Titan Quest team fold. It sucks. Titan Quest was an excellent game, and a great clone of the Diablo games in every way but one: it had high system requirements.

I think you missed Valve’s financial model here, maybe because it is pretty brilliant. All that great stuff runs through Valve’s little shopping portal called Steam. It pays for itself quite handsomely.

I call you somewhat silly with feelings of slight goofiness if you don’t factor these things in with your purchase.

Well, I’m not one of those easily led two brain-cell marketing influence drones who cares about achievements either, so maybe we’re just on a different wavelength. i.e. you love showing off the size of your e-penis, and I just like playing games.

So long as it was easy to see the charges rack up (meaning I could view them WHILE playing), I’d probably tolerate 30 cents per hour. But the problem is that I will tolerate much higher “flat” fees. I don’t like having to monitor hourly costs.

I don’t know if it’s available in the U.K., but you can try out WoW for the price of a cup of coffee over here.

Which is one more reason for PC developers to defect across the Iron Curtain and do console games instead: the XBL community is used to monetized online content in ways their PC brethren aren’t.

You pay for the gas which runs your mower. You pay for the electricity which powers your computer. Not that the situations are directly analogous to gaming, of course, but your expenses didn’t stop when you whipped out a credit card and bought your mower or mouse.

It costs money to run servers for online games. It costs money to develop new content. Maybe the developer has factored that into the price of the retail box; maybe they expect gamers to pay for ongoing service (either a monthly fee or in the form of expansion packs). But either way, such things are never “free” - to gamers or producers.

The problem with hourly is that it’s easy to surprise the user with a big bill, especially if the game is really good and engaging.

UO was originally intended to be hourly, that’s why the game was built to waste so much time. They couldn’t get a decent billing solution before they went live, however, so they switched to a flat monthly fee, without time to change the time wasting mechanics.

Nearly 10 years later, and people are still building on timewasting mechanics for the wrong reasons. Oh how things would’ve been different if UO development had been started assuming a flat monthly fee.

I didn’t like Compuserve then and I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for it that way now. Everything in the entire society has been moving away from per-unit utilization fees toward flat fees. Why would anyone think that PC gaming, already losing ground, would buck this trend?

A lot of venting, but is it justified?

So all these crashes were caused by the pirates? And you fixed the pirate version? Of course not, you can’t blame pirates for a buggy game, you only have yourselves to blame.

One guy went so far as to say he’d bought the retail game and it was having the exact same crashes, so it must be the game itself. This was one of the most vocal detractors, and we got into it a little bit. He swore up and down that he’d done everything above-board, installed it on a clean machine, updated everything, still getting the same crashes. It was our fault, we were stupid, our programmers didn’t know how to make games - some other guy asked “do they code with their feet?”. About a week later, he realized that he’d forgotten to re-install his BIOS update after he wiped the machine. He fixed that, all his crashes went away. At least he was man enough to admit it.
Guess what? Bios updates don’t get removed when you wipe a system, so he probably just threw the non-working game away and gave up instead of waiting for patch 30 to have most of the crashing bugs removed.



care to show us a game that has NOT had crash bugs, and subsequent fixes?

As for the lawn mower thing. fair enough, but every time I have a pizza at pizza express, the bastards charge me again. And if I want garlic rbead they charge me extra! I’m sick of being nickle and dimed for every minor add-on like garlic bread!

Seriosuly, we are quite happy to pay ‘a la carte’ rather than a fixed price menu in all sorts of areas, why should gaming not be like that?
I hate the campaigns in RTS games. I hate cutscenes. Why should I pay for other people to enjoy that stuff?
Why are all the singleplayer COD 4 players subsidising me enjoying the multiplayer?
In pure economic, logic, and rational senses, charging per second X per feature is the best possible system.

The pirates didn’t necessarily experience those specific crashes, but they would have run into the deliberately-placed copy protection ones, so it’s still far more likely that it appeared a lot buggier than it really was to them. I wouldn’t really blame the devs too much, though; this is all in hindsight, they thought they had a creative new way of helping fight piracy, and there were unforseen consequences. Live and learn.