Hyprotransactions and next level profiteering

While some of us struggle to give our games away, some manage to achieve the next level of profiteering. From Player Unknowns Battleground to <insert any major AAA here>, it’s rife and it’s tiring gamers out.

So what is exactly rife?

* Selling a season pass without showing what it includes.
* Adding microtransactions to $60+ Buy-2-Play games.
* Holding content to one side and selling it as microtransactions.

Why are these a problem?

Ten years ago this kind of profiteering wouldn’t have been considered but the spiraling cost of development, the internet and use of data across all facets of a games release has made it all into a science. A science which takes advantage of the psychology of gamers by preying on consumer traits (or frailties).

What this means is that publishers know gamers want to be #1, to be the best or have the fullest, completest experience. So they can sell useless items as part of a deluxe edition as it links into that part of a consumers psychological traits. A publisher knows that it’s easier to sell the season pass before a game launches because they still control the hype, and reality compared to hype is often less enthralling.

It’s not a crime but it’s manipulation. Which is exactly what consumerism is. However, will consumer protection laws revisit these practices, or will the digital, gambling era never be encapsulated?

Only time will tell.

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The Sony Switchtendo

Imagine a world without wars. Forum boards and YouTube videos will calm and all gamers will live in harmony.

I did mean console wars…

Over the last few years, the boundaries have softened. The big M (not McDonald’s) seem to have lowered the guard with crossplay, sharing their Minecraft brand and ultimately opening the doors for modding and all manner of shared experiences.

Both Sony and Nintendo embraced indies but it was the big N who shocked all with their IP’s going to mobile, both Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run thrived. Not to mention their IP crossover with Zelda + Dynasty Warriors and Mario + Rabbids have proven to be popular. Nintendo seemed to be following Microsoft’s lead by opening up their platforms.

That just left Sony to make a move and sure enough, they did. Sony is to publish games on PC and the Nintendo Switch.

Now before you PS4 fanboys kickoff, let’s look at the facts. It’s not like The Last of Us will be getting a Switch release. It’s more a separate publishing group that pushes indie games…

Who knows where it will end but it does seem like all majors are looking to a future where platforms are less important than IP’s.

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Wrong about VR

Last week I said Virtual Reality (VR) wasn’t the future.

I was wrong.

VR is an experience. Imagine watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi in VR?

The scenes and story unfolding around you. With 3D sound and crystal clear fidelity. It would be unlike any experience… That could be the future of VR. Epic, but sporadic.

My perspective changed while experiencing Everest VR. My mind flipped. VR isn’t for the day-to-day. It’s not going to overtake gaming, or education, or training. It’s just a branch of our digital future.

VR will forever be held back by price, complexity, and fidelity. For sure, these factors will improve but that curve, to achieve mainstream will forever put VR behind Augmented Reality (AR).

However, where AR is for the day-to-day mundane. VR is for the epic moments.

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The future of technology, not just gaming

Virtual Reality (VR) was the killer product in the not so distant past.  The idea behind Oculus excited more than just gamers. Educators, scientists, and creators flocked behind the idea and like any movement, investor hitched upon its back turning possibility into reality.

So… now we can see where VR stands, let’s be honest, it’s not exactly at the forefront of any development agenda – worst still, it’s not on many consumers wishlists. It’s bulky, it’s restrictive, it’s often nauseating, and worst still, it’s not all that exciting once the head tilt and warp-to-position mechanics are grown tired of.

VR could come to fruition once prices drop and technology matches expectations. Yet, long before that happens another technology, far more useful and interesting has leaped up into the periphery of educators, scientists, creators, and investors…

Augmented Reality (AR).

Why will this catch on, where VR failed to ignite?

Firstly, AR is accessible. It’s via your phone.

Secondly, AR is familiar. It’s like using your phone as a camera.

Thirdly, AR is all about the software. Granted, older devices can’t use ARkit but consumers change phones like they change socks, so ARkit ready devices will become common.

Finally, AR is useful. From scanning barcodes in a supermarket to check if a product is cheaper elsewhere through to interior design, placing digital furniture in your home to see how it looks before you buy it… The skies are literally the limits with AR.

AR is 100% the future. Whether you want more digital in your life or not, it’s going to happen – mostly because Apple has decided such.

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Unfamiliarity killed the cat

What is it with this player versus boss genre?

I get it, gaming is in a rat race of simplification and everything pre-gratification is expendable. Imagine Metroid Prime without all the exploration and only the boss battles… Yeah, it’s not as good is it BUT that reduction is where we’re headed.

Just look at Absolver, a game where the bulk of the world is empty beyond players a) wanting to gank you or b) wanting to team up to easy-mode a boss. And more often than not, b) is followed by a) anyway.

It’s empty. Yet players flocked to it because who doesn’t want to learn kung fu.

The problem for Absolver is not that it’s difficult, but the player behavior and fighting system have a learning curve.

Therefore the initial flock thinned, and ultimately the game is spiraling downwards in terms of popularity. The same was true for the Ubisoft game For Honor.

When players can’t be the winner via familiar actions they get turned off.

This is why players don’t get turned off by the challenge in Hotline Miami, Cup Head and Dark Souls.  Familiarity.

What we know is that Death by Game Show, which was challenging, failed to get traction despite having short levels, instant replay value, and countless rewards. It had the ingredients but was unfamiliar to players and despite the market demanding “unique” or “innovative” products, consumers no longer connect when something is unfamiliar.

This is, without doubt, the fall off from mobile gaming culture.  Everything must be obvious and gratifying.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.