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.

TailoredSilicon
Member
TailoredSilicon
Jim, I believe you mentioned that you were interested in who Scientific Revenue were partnering with, and you weren’t able to find this information. I would love to be able to say whether “AAA” games have been salted with SciRev code… but, in place of that, please accept this list of Google Play games identified as containing SciRev APIs. I’m working on confirming at least some of the games via packet capture spot checks at this time. The list was generated by analyzing included libraries. I think you’ll recognize Rovio, Fingersoft, GLU, and D3P. As you can tell from the… Read more »
saynotogamblingingames
Member
saynotogamblingingames
Good article Jim. Not excellent as you self indulge which distracts from the serious issues you are addressing. We know about digital homicide and if we don’t it’s distracting. We thank God for you as we’re already here. We know you get shit on and you’re often right but saying it won’t win any converts and at the end of the day this surely is about winning hearts and minds. You are right but you can only prove it my being right but often you’ll be wrong and if you lauded yourself too much people will use that against you… Read more »
Timquisition
Member
Timquisition

Jim’s ego is just part of the act. If you listen to his podcasts he’s a pretty decent guy. Pretty sure anyone going against his word at this point is only a corporate mouth piece. I mean, when you have mainstream media addressing lootboxes as shady, you’d have to be beyond generic to still defend publishers right now; though some people like that still exist, true enough.

Allaiyah Weyn
Member

Well, they can try all they want. From MMORPGs to mobile bingo, from 2003 till now, the only things I’d ever pony up cash for in an F2P/freemium game are permanent cosmetic items, & only after I’d played the game long enough where I felt I outright owed the developers money & spent exactly the amount I felt the game was worth.

Chris
Member

And therefore it doesn’t matter that they are preying on children and people with addictions. That’s the attitude that lets them get away with this shit.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita
I’m the same exact way and have given games like Warframe tons of money for literally no reason other than my continued enjoyment of it. The the problem is you have people with addictive personalities, people with more money than sense, people that are the American stereotype of “living in debt from credit card to credit card” or (and speaking from first hand knowledge, not just being a bitch here) people who are on the autistic spectrum that spend thousands and thousands of hours in a single game and simply MUST have everything in it regardless of the real world… Read more »
HenloYesCuteSnek
Member
HenloYesCuteSnek
The only good mobile game I have ever found is Dungeons of Chaos. 5.99 oldschool inspired RPG that went to kickstarter to fund its free expansion instead of introducing microtransactions in any way shape or form. It’s also on Steam now, though, so no real reason to buy the mobile version anymore unless you really wanna play it on the go. Anyway, my biggest problem with microtransactions as a whole is them being used in pay-to-win games or being used in PREMIUM games. I have seen them used “Ethically”, if you can call it that, back when I used to… Read more »
Tyither
Member
Tyither
I don’t understand why companies decide to monetize this way. There are literally cheaper, easier, and more ethical ways to get similar results. For example, There is a freemium game on my phone called Bit City. It has the standard regular/premium currency system, but with a twist- the cheapest option is called pension pig for 2.99, and as you play the game the amount of premium currency in the pig goes up, meaning you can just play the game as normal until the amount of premium currency in the piggy bank feels worth it to you, and you pay 2.99… Read more »
Gorantharon
Member
Gorantharon

Are you sure they didn’t contract SciRe to calculate the rate at which the premium currency for that option increases?

TickledFancy
Member
TickledFancy

Yes this struck a cord with me. I have abandoned all use of phone gaming… I’m willing to pay for a game… even use the paid only filters on play store… only to find that pay only games are complete shit. All modern games have switched to this pay model I refuse to support. I try to avoid micro transaction on PC as well… but as you pointed out… it is harder and harder.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita
AAA Gaming is already a write off. When you take a step back and realize 90% of the games they release is the same game they released 5 years ago only, somehow, with less actual content in it and more lootboxes, DLC and nicer graphics you’ll start looking at those mid tier indie games almost exclusively. Games that garner a lot of attention but aren’t triple A, like Divinity Original Sin 2, Hand of Fate, Rocket League (which is still the top seller despite some FNAF fan calling it a “flavor of the month” over a year ago. Irrelevant but… Read more »
Angel Knight
Member
Angel Knight

There have been plenty of amazing big name “AAA” releases this year and some of the worst trash imaginable was produced by indies. Reductive, lazy tribalism doesn’t help anyone.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita

Besides in my opinion Xcom2 War of the Chosen (which is really an expansion not a game release) and Warhammer Total War 2…I uh…I don’t see it. Where are these amazing AAA releases this year? I’m literally looking at a list of releases this year and I’ll add Neir Automata to the list of AAA releases that were really good but that is literally it.

Angel Knight
Member
Angel Knight

The fact that you’re already moving goalposts and playing on semantics in your own post doesn’t make me want to waste my time having this discussion. THE MAN = evil, indie = good. Whatever.

Chris
Member

The quality of the games doesn’t matter if they are being made to prey on people by sleazy, greedy fucks. Destiny 2 looks great, not going to buy it given the monetization stuff. Same with Shadow of War and Battlefield 2. Anyone supporting these “AAA” companies as they peddle gambling to children and addicts is responsible for the continued acceptability of this behavior.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita

…what?

I mean seriously what? Nothing about what you said made any sense.

CountFunkula
Member
CountFunkula

Great episode. In the SciRev promotion clip, it mentioned that a benefit of using their algorithm would be ‘reduced churn’…..
What the fuck is ‘churn’? I’ve got a nasty feeling that it is industry-speak for time spent just playing the game, and not looking at a digital marketplace/storefront or spending money.
Does anyone know enough to enough to enlighten me?

CountFunkula
Member
CountFunkula

I looked it up on a sales site. It means attrition. Need to take a long shower after wading through the filth

Riuny
Member
Riuny

In mobile game industry, the word “churn” means “deletion of an app after installation”. Most mobile game companies have their own way to monitor what they call the “churn rate”. “churn rate” is basically a ratio of user who deleted the app after installation. They keep tracking this number to measure their users “fondness” to their app.

Drake Warnock
Member

I do think a company could use this kind of machine learning ethically. I think it is possible, but I don’t think it is likely. I like some of this kind of thing; Steam knows I like metroidvania games and so I sometimes see new ones I hadn’t heard of before on the store. I like that because I might otherwise miss out. But when it comes to using data to make these algorithms there is a very VERY fine line between being helpful and being predatory and I very much doubt publishers are going to even notice it.

La Chica Incognita
Member
La Chica Incognita

That’s going on the very big assumption that they care.

If there’s one thing I learned about Corporate Culture is that morality is irrelevant. The kinds of people who get to the top of the food chain in these companies typically have a low level of sociopathy to them.

Malcom
Member
Malcom

Just yesterday i was on this very site, answering a post about how they’ll find a way to make it worse…
But this time, it’s becoming intrusive, unfair and they’re trying to justify it.
Only one word can describe where we are now going.

Dangerous…

jahayes27
Member
jahayes27

At this point, I think you qualify as an expert on these sorts of things, no matter what predatory
CEOs would argue.

Luke Jordan
Member
Luke Jordan

The ending credits for the episodes still say you can find reviews on this site.

Nitrium
Member

Well technically you can still “check out reviews” on this site, just not reviews for the latest games. There is even a button you can push on the right-hand side (under Categories) that will take you right to them!

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

You can just the way Jim is reviewing games has changed.

9lives lie cat lie
Member
9lives lie cat lie

winter may be coming but I do not fear it, why, because I know Monday is coming

thank you jim… in jim we trust

AntarcticOasis
Member
AntarcticOasis

A great classic episode here. I love when Jim goes in-depth into garmes jurnalizm and pulls out a massive 20+ minute ep! What a dodgy company. It’s hilarious that the CEO calls out Jim on his ethics when he’s part of a company that earns money by feeding buckets of fish to the dolphins and whales.

George
Member
A company exploiting the mechanisms of addiction is not one that anyone should do business with. Sure the games are “marketed to adults”…but if you are a dev or a publisher employee reading this and you actively make/sell these mechanisms than you are not really any better than the store clerk selling cigarettes to a 15 year old or a the tobacco industry in general…and I don’t say that lightly. You need to revaluate how you are able to rationalize your actions. Also Jim, how does Nintendo stand on this issue…they kinda fly under the radar in a lot of… Read more »
Chris
Member

This is a hundred percent true, and its why I no longer deal with the free to play mobile industry. Even if I don’t struggle with those problems it’s wrong to support the companies who prey on those people. And as the “AAA” publishers start doing it I’m going to have to put them on that list. I’m already done dealing with Warner Bros, and I think anyone who keeps buying their games or the games of other companies using this model (like say Blizzard or EA with Battlefront) is just enabling them and their disgusting behavior.

Nitrium
Member
The publishers already make a good percentage of their income from microtransactions. A recent episode of Gamespot’s the The Lobby did some digging and found just EA’s “Ultimate Team” microtransactions (which unlocks players for EA’s sports games) makes them US$650 million dollars on a total revenue of US$ 2.3 billion (so JUST microstransactions on ONE sector of their games is responsible for 28% of their TOTAL income) per year. Activision makes even more (think Blizzard, Skylanders, CoD) making an eye-watering US$ 3.6 BILLION dollars per year on JUST microtransactions. Shame there no way to post links on this site, but… Read more »
Gorantharon
Member
Gorantharon

Even Mass Effect Andromeda made them money, in no small part due to having that multiplayer MT mode.

If they just went by earnings they could have continued the franchise.

The public reaction made them realise a second one would probably not make the money, but what MTs bring in is mind boggling.

drownedsummer
Member
drownedsummer

Jim linked to an article on Eurogamer on twitter earlier where an ex Bioware developer was interviewed. In which he stated the amount of money made off microtransactions in Mass Effect 3 lead to the implementation of multiplayer in more single player games and of course more microtransactions.

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