Turning Players Into Payers (The Jimquisition)

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Activision’s patented idea of utilizing matchmaking to trick players into buying DLC is an unsettling one, but if you think that’s as bad as it gets, you don’t know videogames.

Let’s talk about Scientific Revenue, the service that demonstrates exactly what games want from you – they want to turn players into payers… and they proudly admit it.

The predatory side of gaming has only just begun to show its fangs.

Benj
Member
Benj

Is “dynamic pricing” even legal?

If I were to sell sandwiches for double the price to someone because they were fat or if they had type 2 diabetes then that would definitely be illegal.

Chris
Member
My very limited understanding is that it’s only an issue if you have or advertise a fixed price but raise it for certain people or types of people. But if you don’t have a fixed price than you’re essentially “negotiating” with each potential customer the way a used car salesman or someone running a shady booth at a flea market might. Notice those aren’t things game companies should want to be compared to. It would be an issue if your pricing could be shown to be discriminatory, you charge black customers twice as much to discourage their patronage for example.… Read more »
La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita

It’s legal partially because it’s online gaming and we’re going to have to wait another 30 years before lawmakers and judges are of a generation that grew up with gaming.

To the law it’s no different than flea market haggling. This guy would pay ten dollars for a vase but the guy next to him would be 40. I’m selling to it the guy who would pay 40.

Se7en_Th1rt3en
Member
Se7en_Th1rt3en

See Jim, stuff like this is one of the reasons I am subscribed to you. I doubt I would learn of this awful shite from… lets say “old” games media. Machine learning to assess player liquidity and eagerness to buy additional stuff for adjusting pricing is kind of creepy (and sooooooo capitalism *hrhrhr*).

Mark my words: Not the military… oh no.
*making dramatic sounds*
Skynet will be built by a games publisher!
(Their robots will come to your home and endlessly besiege you with special appstore offers with the annoyance of early 00’s ringtone commercials)

Jamba Sparabo. Now I will have nightmares. Good night 🙂

GetGudOrDie
Member
GetGudOrDie

Jim, Wouldnt mind a “Does and Dont’s” video of Microtransactions,DLC,etc in video games. The ubisofts and EA and Warnerbrothers wont give half a f*ck but aspiring companies with genuine intent might find it interesting/useful. Id certainly like more of a sense when considering supporting a favoured developer. Perhaps even parody the whole thing with you talking to a burning bush followed by, reading from a list of commandments.

GloatingSwine
Member
GloatingSwine

The commandments for DLC aren’t even that difficult:

1. Thou shalt make the game good without it.

I mean that’s kinda it really. Make the game good without the DLC, and have the DLC offer more of the good time the game was giving you at a reasonable price.

See: Borderlands, Hyrule Warriors, Dark Souls.

Hugrid
Member
Hugrid

Yeah, DLC’s filled the niche “expansions” used to sit in, but with smaller content per DLC in exchange for more “expansions” per game. There’s a bunch of arguments either way about whether that’s good or bad, and honestly it’s something that differs on a game by game basis.

MT is exclusively for Free-To-Play games: if the game has an upfront cost then it’s doing something wrong if it truly “needs” MT on top of that.

Paid Lootboxes are an abomination unto the Steeeerrs and should be cast into the Void and never used again.

Chungus
Member
Chungus

There’d be only a list of don’ts and not a single do.

Gitaxian
Member
Gitaxian

The fundamental problem with both this and other forms of microtransactions are that they require the game to lie to you. Up until now, it’s been a “soft lie” – you still get a game for $60, but it’s not the same as the intended and promised experience which requires constantly playing for microtransactions. This is much more blatant: they charge you a different amount without telling you how much anyone else paid.

Kirk Hammer
Member
Kirk Hammer

I’d just like to add that I’m delighted to see that you’ve made “Fart Porn Specialist” its own dedicated tag now.

MuddyScarecrow
Member

If you really were as insignificant as that tub of pomade grease is treating you then he wouldn’t have even responded to you. Sure you may be Cassandra now. But I’m really hoping that thanks to those documented moments of you “calling it” more people are going to start listening to you. Not everybody obviously. But as Hopper from Bugs Life adequately put it: “When one of them stands up they ALL stand up.”

Akalabth
Member
Akalabth
Now what would be interesting to know is which companies are actively using them. Could be funny seeing the reviews/comment sections on the app stores devolve into thousands of one-stars and (rightfully) angry comments. As far as I’m concerned what you talked about in the video is pretty fucking nauseating in its own right but probably the most disgusting aspect is the whole “machine learning” bit. I mean, what exactly can they see? Do they read your text messages? Say you’re on “Clash of Clans” on Android and, since you haven’t cared to deactivate the permissions, it has access to… Read more »
Hugrid
Member
Hugrid
Generally speaking the SciRev process would be a thing done outside of the game; So a company rejiggers their game to collect the analytics SciRev asks for over a set (or regular) period, squirts that juice at SciRev in bulk, SciRev identifies “patterns” in the juice (F, K, in the coffee!) that it links to players being vulnerable to price changes/pop-up timing, game makers then get their game to look for when a player falls into one of those patterns and implement the price changes/pop-up. So yes, it could be noting and responding to your recent call data but only… Read more »
Natalie
Member
Natalie
It really gets me when people like this CEO try to shift the blame onto customers who are fed up with this nonsense. Saying that if the industry collapses, it will be our fault for not buying the games anymore. Imagine an orange industry. A large part of this orange industry is dominated by a couple of big players. Now, let’s say that these big companies have started smearing fecal matter all over the oranges. We’re all gonna stop buying their oranges, right? And now you’ve got the defenders saying, “oh, it’s just cosmetic, oh, it’s only on the peel,… Read more »
MuddyScarecrow
Member

No. Only the video game community. Because it’s full of lunatics.

Chris
Member

The video game community and certain comic book movie fans are the only ones this crazy and self destructive.

Anton
Member
Anton

Rick & Morty fans are having a good go at “craziest fanbase”.

MuddyScarecrow
Member

The craziest fanbase that obviously doesn’t understand the show. “You have to be smart in order to get it.” Well since you’re obsessed with a sauce whose whole joke is that it’s meaningless you must be pretty damn stupid to have not gotten it then.

Chris
Member

Very true, but I don’t think they’re nearly as self destructive as DC movie fans who not only go full blown truther about shitty movies (all these reviews are biased and paid for by Marvel because how could anyone possibly not have liked this genius!!!???) but they continue to pay their own money to go and see Zack Snyder movies in theaters. And anyone who does that is pretty clearly unwell.

Chris
Member

I believe Justin asked you specifically to stop replying to everything I say, I’ve been attempting to follow the rules here and do the same.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

He did. He asked the two of us to stop responding to him and him to not reply each other or at the least not write responses such as the one above.

Justin McDaniel
Admin

Chris and Drownedsummer, thank you for respecting the community. Hell, even now instead of just blasting in to him, you just reminded him of what was said.

Michael, I’ve deleted your replies to Chris’ comments. If you do it again, your account will be removed from the system. It’s clear you cannot communicate with these two in a polite way, so keep your replies to other threads or your own comments.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Oh I didn’t realize you meant don’t respond to him at all, I just thought you meant “don’t argue about your identity”(or something like that).

If i’d known that I would not have responded to him at all.

I didn’t read this comment until now because I didn’t visit this site for several days due to being busy with other things.

I made a few more comments responding to him today before I read your comment. Those comments were on the Wolfenstein 2 page and on the new Jimquisition page, you can delete them if you want to.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

I don’t know I once saw a Kickstarter from some MLP fans who were trying to raise funds to buy their own island.

Chungus
Member
Chungus

I’ll gladly take the blame of collapsing the gaming industry if it means we get to start over.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Absolutely sickening, I only wish I had known about this before I gave my speech on microtransactions for my public speaking class.

Rifleavenger Sashiro
Member

“Machine learning” being used for purposes like this is how we get an AI that “optimizes” the planet for a maximal number of paper clips.

Jiryn
Member
Jiryn

Jim, please.. please dress up as Sans for Halloween!
I feel it’ll fit perfectly with your dry wit, and personality!

Jiryn
Member
Jiryn
JIm, you’re one of the loudest most renowned whistle blowers in the industry. Of course they are going to discredit and dehumanize you… but from all of us consumers out there who see things in a similar way as you, keep up the good fight good man! As I’ve said in previous posts, I have a friend who works in the industry and who goes out of their way to insult you regularly when I bring up an idea they do not agree with, or feel is exaggerate they claim I sound like you. Once again, you mentioned their company… Read more »
Riuny
Member
Riuny
I’ve heard some people say that what Jim said in this episode is all lie and completely based on blind assumption. I can clearly tell what Jim said is 100% true. I know this because, I’m one of those “fuckers” who works in game industry. I work as a game designer in certain mid-sized game company. You think that game designers should be working on how games would operate and how are we going to make this game better. But no. That is far from what I do in daily basis. Almost every single “game designer” in my company is… Read more »
Chungus
Member
Chungus

Perhaps you can seek out similar minded individuals and you guys can make a game that you want to make!

IanT
Member
IanT

Shit, man… that’s fucked up. I hope you manage to get back to the actual game-related elements of game designing soon.

Benj
Member
Benj

Sell your story and use the money to start an indie developer!

Or just lock all the doors and burn the whole fucking place down.

Your call.

Chris
Member
This. This is where the crash is going to come from. You already see “AAA” games emulating the mobile business model. Putting monetization in front of game design. Turning franchises into different genres or adding multiplayer or co-op because it makes micro transactions easier to sell. It’s why we can’t have a single player Star Wars game now, it needs to be a Destiny clone to have micro transactions. It’s why more and more publishers are going to start copying the worn out, tired, Ubisoft and Warner Bros open world sandbox model because wasting your time is a perfect way… Read more »
Gorantharon
Member
Gorantharon

One of my positive surproses in the lsat months was Evil Within 2 not having a seson pass, microtransactions or Day One DLC, except a pre-order bonus that is a minor boost and the weapon included is actaully extremely situational and outclassed.

So, if someone can still make 60$ games like that in the current market, I’d say consumers can only win when the crash comes and the greedy fucks go down.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Yeah I just finished Evil Within 2 and really enjoyed it, i’m actually doing something with it that I don’t usually do with most games-Play a New Game Plus.

I’d be OK with Evil Within 2 not getting post-launch DLC(though if it does, I wouldn’t seeing what happened to Sykes or learning more about Torres and Kidman’s backstories).

Chris
Member

The key there is to ask yourself if there are any developers you like who are tied in or dependent on one of the greedy fucks. The sad truth of the last few years is that most of the “AAA” studios have been bought or become more and more dependent on those publishers for funding. Evil Within 2 is published by Bethesda, so it wouldn’t be effected, but an industry with only one company isn’t going to be particularly healthy.

There are also a lot of talented people who will lose their jobs, so it’s not exactly a net positive.

Gorantharon
Member
Gorantharon
You’re totally right that an industry with just one big publisher would be bad, especially as Bethesda has their own players to payers ideas, but that wasn’t my point: When Bethesda can make it work, I’d say other companies will find a way when they finally need to. This year we’ve also seen Hellblade and Cuphead and a bunch of other smaller games that, while more focused, delivered a lot and X-Com: War of the Chosen or the last Dark Souls 3 DLC have proven that you can still make good additions to a game that aren’t monetised to hell… Read more »
Benj
Member
Benj

I’ve got a full time job and a big backlog of games I never get down to (including Witcher 3 which will probably take me a fucking year on its own)

I’m perfectly prepared for a major video game industry crash. I’ll have just about caught up when the ashes have fully settled.

Christopher Allen
Member
Christopher Allen

Benj, your attitude is something neither the AAA industry nor mobile industry wants to hear. For those who enjoy good games like fine wine, we can simply afford to wait until what we want becomes available, at the price we desire, at the time we find most convenient. Throwing more games and microtransactions at us won’t make us change our tastes or consume the games any faster.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

I doubt a crash will ever happen for consoles and PC, but it probably will happen in the mobile market since it’s the wild west out there, companies like King and Zynga use such awful tactics they make the big publishers look restrained by comparison, it’s THAT bad.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita
There is really no mobile market anymore, just varying degrees of pop up ads disguised as games. It’s also extremely likely that within 10 years unless the AAA market retools how they do business, they’ll end up crashing as well. EA for example behaves VERY strongly like how a company in the early stages of failing will behave in other industries. They are buying up small companies, failing to make use them and slash and burning them till they close them claiming they make no profit anymore. From what I’ve witnessed in other businesses it’s possible you’ll see EA suddenly… Read more »
Chris
Member
This was my point, the mobile market has already crashed. It still exists, and a handful of glorified gambling companies are able to milk the remaining whales, but to average customers (and not just “gamers” but to normal people) mobile gaming isn’t really a thing any more. Not the way it was a couple years ago before the endless parade of Candy Crush and Clash of Kings clones sapped all the energy and creativity out of the market. This is where “AAA” gaming is going, a bunch of companies will fold and the remainder will just be putting out loot… Read more »
Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Also also lastly from me and this is something I’ve asked elsewhere and not related to the article, would you count tamagotchis as video games or things like it like Digimon started out as and things inspired by those two things.

(I may or may not be trying the unsubtlely wonder if Jim would ever do Summer Wars, one of my fav feel good films or one of the Digimon movies on the Spin-Off Doctors… Yes I am kind of pathetic).

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott
Also one last thing from me, it was revealed that Dead Space 2 have a development budget of $60 million and sold 4 million copies but was considered a failure because it barely made it’s full budget back on copies sold alone because of the extra $60 million spent on the game’s marketing which was famously awful. My question, how much should marketing actually cost and what and what should be done to stop stuff like this from happening? Like briefly looking it up, did Call of Duty Modern Warefare 2 need a marketing budget ($200 million) 4 times bigger… Read more »
Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Dead Space 2 had that infamous “your mom hates this” ad campaign, yeah that was money well spent!

Deena
Member
Deena

RIP The Escapist. Much like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, you were dead all along but we still kept seeing you around.

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Wait, what’s happened to the Escapist, I don’t follow them?

MrInsecure
Member
MrInsecure

Well, they’re not technically closing down- some aspects of the community, like the boards, will still be up- but after years of bleeding talent and readership, they’re finally in the process of closing up shop.

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Wow, I didn’t know about any of this.

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

The last thing I remember from them was one of their reviewers tried (and failed) to take pot shots at Jim for a review he didn’t like.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula
The site owner/manager also happens to a huge Milo fanboy and is part of Milo’s company, also according to Susan Arendt, the owner Alex always thought the users on the sight were pathetic losers. So it seems as though he only created the Escapist to compete with Gametrailers and did not actually care about making a good site, he was solely motivated by profit, the site was never good because of him, it was good because of the editors. No wonder Moviebob’s contract was not renewed and Extra Credits got royally screwed over, their progressive views are pretty much the… Read more »
drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

It has for sometime just been the hosting site for the works of Yahtzee.

Gorantharon
Member
Gorantharon

Just go to the site and read the open letter.

Basically there’s no staff left, and nothing happening but Zero Punctuation and only the voluntary mods keep the lights in the forums on.

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Should I use this as an excuse to rag on Capcom for being sleazy as hell while quietly not getting much attention despite doing awful money grubbing things? Nah not worth it, I’ve think I’ve said all I can do here besides I could fully see Capcom using something like that scienticrevenue.

Holy crap this is shady as f***,

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member

But now I’m curious and interested as to what it is…

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member
Though I mostly agree with you on these points, I honestly believe this industry is too big to fail at this point and will just eventually become like the music industry; where publishers will splinter between either corporate sellout hacks utilising every shitty trick to prioritise money over art (and mostly succeeding because their market is oft aimed towards younger people who don’t know/care they’re being manipulated), or those publishers that actually give a damn about the medium as an art-form and seek to maintain their artistic integrity, with the downside of not being able to make all of the… Read more »
Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Yeah I don’t see a big crash happening either, it could happen to the mobile gaming market since now damn every game is a shitty free to play Clash of Clans rip-off, at least the console/PC industry has variety in it.

TemplarGR
Member
TemplarGR
I love the pinned comment in that video. It showcases how much shilling goes on in this industry. Whether the guy who made it is a shill, or just an ignorant consumer who has fallen for the propaganda, it makes no difference: Publishers strive to make the public believe that games are so expensive to produce that they absolutely need those microtransaction shenanigans or else they won’t be able to produce games. Which is bullshit of the highest order. Everyone even remotely near the gaming business knows that development costs aren’t nearly that much higher than 10 or 20 years… Read more »
Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

I encountered someone just like that on TotalBiscuit’s official sub-reddit, he was arguing nonstop about how the lootboxes in Shadow of War were totally necessary to support the game, it was unbelievably creepy, eventually I blocked the guy before I lost any more brain cells from reading his garbage.

Sperium3000
Member

I mean, there’s still mobile games who are exceptions to the trash rule. One Epic Knight and Steppy Pants are fine, as is Dead Ahead methinks. The fact they’re exceptions is horrible, but eh…

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Why did I have Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl in my head when watching this episode?

Anton
Member
Anton

Is $5.65 the new tree-fiddy?

R.M.Renfield
Member
R.M.Renfield
Great episode, Jim. The greatest weapon we have is awareness. Last week people were sceptical about my claims Star Citizen was using techniques that equal microtransactions for being ethically questionable. People were sceptical, dismissive. This week Star Citizen made a new ship available for sale, which means they have a new picture of a ship for sale. The ship doesn’t exist and neither does the game. Here’s its features: It costs $850. Yes, $850. You can’t pay for it with “war bonds” – Star Citizen’s version of store credit, only new cash is accepted. There are a limited number of… Read more »
Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI
Member

That entire development and business model is seedy as fuck. Whether it’s intentional or not, it doesn’t win them any good faith. More money than sense these fans seem to have.

Greene Scott
Member
Greene Scott

Wait $850 real money? WTF?!

R.M.Renfield
Member
R.M.Renfield

Yup, 850 real, American dollars. You could get a GTX 1080ti graphics card for that, I think, or even a mid range PC, or a new console and some games.

Or a picture of a spaceship for a game that doesn’t exist.

TemplarGR
Member
TemplarGR

What the actual phack? 850$ for a digital ship on a game that isn’t still out and probably will never get made at all if we go by all the news of their financial issues?

God when Star Citizen collapses this is going to be big news around the world.

Michael Prymula
Guest
Michael Prymula

Yeah when Star Citizen fails it will disastrous consequences for video games on Kickstarter, nobody will ever trust them again after this crap.

Anton
Member
Anton
I saw a couple of reddit threads on this subject. People causally discussing the in-game pros and cons of this ship as though spending $850 on a non-existent game is anything approaching reasonable. It’s baffling and slightly horrifying. What this shows is that the upper echelons of Star Citizen are not for normal people. It’s for individuals who treat their game “careers” like second jobs, and their primary pursuits in life. It’s not really anything new, people have been this obsessive with games like EVE Online for decades. I would say that this might be ok, though questionable from a… Read more »
Aotrs Commander
Member
Aotrs Commander

I feel glad I only spend about £20 backing Star Citizen when it started way back in 2012. I just wanted a space-single player campaign a la TIE Fighter or something. I sort of just treat it like a couple of the other kickstarters I backed that have basically gone south, sadly; expect that i might get something out of it one day, probably in the distant future snce by the time it comes out, the graphics card I specifically bought for it probably won’t run it or something…

Lythene
Member
Lythene

There are a few lesser affected niches out there but I daresay not for long. It’s infuriating for me to see this happen just from the sidelines – I can’t imagine how pissed off I’ll be once it starts permeating the stuff I tend to play. I think in the future I’ll almost be glad I’ve accrued such a back-log, since games worth playing will be so few and far between.

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