The introduction of Steam and episodic content has changed the way we buy games and I thought I’d take a quick look at some financial models within the gaming industry and see whether they would work for FPS games.
Out of all the options available this is my favourite. I like having a box and a manual to touch and smell (you know what I mean!) This is an option that whilst is slowly disappearing will eventually make a comeback in the form of Limited/Collectors Edition. Lots of publishers still use this method because not everybody has or needs an Internet connection.
Convenient but ultimately unsatisfying. Nowadays they seem to come without a printed manual. Looks nice all lined up on my shelves but that’s all. I accept that if you but it retails it needs some form of packaging but I still don’t like it. However one good thing is that these types of boxes are easy to send in the post!
There should definitely be more of these but the quality has to be very high. Better to pay a little more and get something worthwhile. I wanted to buy the Half-Life 2 Collectors edition but in reality it didn’t seem worth it. I’ll probably still buy one but only because I want a complete collection. Publishers really need to do worth with these things.
Can’t argue with the concept although I feel the price difference should be much greater. Sure they have to pay for bandwidth but a file sharing system could easily be introduced, meaning we are all content servers. The least we should get is high-quality PDF files for the manual that we can print if we wanted to, same goes for disk and DVD covers.
Enough about the delivery system let’s look at how they generate income:
I prefer to pay $60-70 dollars up front and receive a full game. I understand all the arguments for episodic content but feel it’s like buying a book or magazine. Magazines are nice to read but I prefer to get into a really good book that lasts for a while. OK, the developers go long periods without income But perhaps there’s a compromise? Release a high quality demo and allow players to pre-purchase at a discount. The developer/publisher would need to be dependable and well known but it’s an option.
Initially I thought $20 for Half-Life 2: Episode 1 was expensive but then I went to a fast food restaurant and ordered a burger meal that cost nearly $8 and was gone in ten minutes. I then though $20 for 4 hours probably wasn’t that bad. I still get shack the feeling that we are being somehow cheated. I mean, How much new content is available in Episodic content? Not much, maybe a few new textures, an enemy or two plus maybe a weapon. Most of it will be level design.
1Up are reporting on news that Gran Turismo will be available in two versions. Standard version with everything included and a Micro Transaction version. In the MT version you get a few cars and tracks but have to buy new items. Sounds very interesting. Would it work in FPS games? Unlikely unless the developer was continually making new things (Levels, enemies, weapons etc) available. Not being an online MP player I could be wrong but don’t Sony do this with PlanetSide? Why not with SP? Would you buy new weapons etc? I might if they were high enough quality etc. I, and I think most people are, are interested in new levels and storylines.
This is one of the topics I discussed on my now dead forum. The idea that in game advertising actually pays for the game. Gamasutra has a piece describing it. (You may need a username and password to access this article. Don’t worry it’s free and the site is excellent for game enthusiasts). I’m doubtful if this would work for SP games. The advertising would have to be quite prominent and I think this would detract from the story line. There could be ways this might work but it seems perfect for MP type levels, rather than story driven stuff. Got any thoughts on how to incorporate advertise into SP THAT would reduce the price?
Now that Steam games require regular connection to the Internet one possible way of charging would be per hours played. Can’t see this working myself, too many players spend hours playing and they would be penalized.
I understand developers and publishers complaining about the second-hand market and trying to stop/control. I believe it’s unrealistic and maybe unfair. I bet 90% of Valve staff (And all other companies!) share books, magazine and stuff. We all do. Why not accept it and create a resale fee? The developer gets to control the transaction and take a cut of the money. Limits of sales etc can be introduced and players will feel good they have a chance to buy at a reduced price.
I’m working on another post that relates to this but why not give away the DVDs and boxes (Or at incredibly reduced price) and just allow the customer to but a license code? That way you can easily give presents etc and once people have the disk and tried it. (Oh, I forgot to say that the purchasers can play the game free 30 minutes free.) they may want to purchase it. The disk could contain other related items to cover the costs. Perhaps even the 30 minutes free are on levels subsidized by advertising?!