Please visit for more official info on my projects!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Never Pay for Premium

In a world dominated by business and politics (as opposed to philosophy and philanthropy, and you know, progress) computer game entertainment has fallen from a unique pastime to a stifling alternative to worse options. Especially with the advent of slower and less customizable "mobile" options, computer gaming, and desktop PCs moreover, have survived largely due to the efforts of efficient distributors such as Steam,, and the more generally, the advent of digitally downloadable content. Instead of fumbling through a large CD/DVD collection, gamers can quickly browse an ever growing list of games and then download and play them as long as their hard drive functions.

After observing an era of anti-PC/pro-mobile propaganda, and the rise of the free-to-play, downloadable content, and premium account business strategies in games, we can safely pronounce that the game designers have either lost their minds or that business people are making the decisions. Business people are more or less involved in business-related politics, and, as a result, instill the quota, bottom-line, and/or investor viewpoints on the highly educated, creative, and innovative gaming industry. While the industry continues to thrive, gamers and consumers in general suffer from poor decision making and biased design choices.

Video games are theoretically the most effective method of entertainment human beings have ever maintained. By simulating an ever increasing variety of environments, rules, and events, video games give us much more access to our imagination. If that isn't by itself worth investing time and money into, an historical analysis of video game's ability to make money shows why the industry is now more or less controlled by people who have no idea how to make games. Especially now, video games are software simulations that can be sold with high returns. On average, a video game takes around three years, and $60 to $100 million to make. Newer Indie or crowd-funded projects develop  video games for much less money, often less than $100,000. Regardless of how much money is dumped into a project, one thing remains the same. Games that sell for a consistent amount have a solid indicator of popularity. Games such as premium account games, could in reality fail in the public eye, while reviewers, critics, and publishers remain ignorant to fundamental problems.

Let me remind you that almost all critics are in some way influenced by their proximity to the industry they critique. In the case of computer games, reviews can be directly bought in the form of a marketing campaign. In essence, that's what advertisements for computer games are - positive reviews. Demos are unfortunately not as common as they once were - mostly because of the programming hurdles presented with limiting players and protecting content. Demos are still extremely effective, however, for those developers that continue to offer them. They have evolved now, into in-development versions of the game. By buying the game for a typically small amount long before the game's actual release, players can support a good concept and save money at the same time... as long as the game actually gets finished.

I will not be the last to say that computer gaming was at one point simple and straight forward. You went to a store, picked up a game box, used physical media to not only install the game, but also to play the game. Even longer ago, there wasn't even a key. But I digress. Now that games come in many different models, makes, and brands, it's easy to let your passion for an idea to overtake the logic behind a purchase. Never pay for premium. A simple solution is to compare the amount of money you're prepared to spend on any game idea (pre-release, downloadable content, premium accounts, in-game content, etc.) to the amount of time you expect to get out of that form of entertainment. If the amount of time you'll spend on a game largely outweighs the required average amount of money to maintain that game, then I am incapable of influencing you further.

In conclusion, I postulate that business models other than a one-time purchase of the software aren't as effective, and the game, subsequent games, and overall brand suffer in the long term. Players get alienated by the business side of things, and that slight afterthought throws them out of the game world and right back into the reality that we all so hopelessly attempt to escape in our own ways.