F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thing)

 

F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thing)

Postby Flatlander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:35 am

Short Re-cap of the long explanation below:
Subscriptions, DLC, Microtransactions(loot boxes) and other pay-as-you-play business models are the best way to go for Online Multiplayer Games.
But also, having a large playerbase will keep your community happy, so Free to Play is always a good option if you can afford it.
(People who play your game, add additional content for your players. Basically every player in your game is a free NPC you did not have to program or create dialog for in an online game)

In your update this week I got the impression that you may think a Free to Play model with lootboxes would be a bad idea, or that Gamers hated these things.
While there might be some hate towards them, it is generally from players that wouldn't pay for your game anyway. Most gamers that actually support games with their wallets, really enjoy Free 2 Play games that have Lootboxes/boosters/VIP Subscriptions. (As long as the lootboxes do not provide an unfair advantage)

Long Explanation:
Hello!
I have been following the development of Novus AEterno (now Hades 9) since the start.
I have also been gaming literally my entire life (since I was able to hold a game controller, I had one in my hand)

When I first started gaming (In the 1990s) they were almost only on Consoles or in Arcades.
There were no patches, no expansions, no dlc, no upgrades or ongoing development. if a developer wanted to expand a game they released "Game Part 2".

Then the internet showed up and it allowed you to download games and play online with friends. Which brought a new kind of Development. You could play a game, WHILE they worked on it and fixed things. This allowed games to be HUGE, way better, and for issues to be corrected after release.

But there was a problem with the new Internet Games that had ongoing development. A developer would release their game, get some money from initial sales, then continue development while the money ran dry.
They would run out of money (because their players already bought their game) and even though they had a dedicated player-base, they would have no choice but to stop supporting their game and move on to the next project.

Expansion Packs were one of the first ways developers started to offer more Content for PC Games. But this came with a huge issue, some players bought the expansion pack, and others did not. Meaning it divided the community and friends were torn apart, unable to play the game together.

Then a Developer invented Subscriptions. Where instead of buying the game, you paid each month to play on their online servers. This allowed everyone to play together forever, but some of your friends couldn't afford a subscription, so they simply couldn't play with you.

Finally, Free to Play online games were invented. (And their Evil Twin the Pay 2 Win Games were also born).
This allows you, and all of your friends to play the game. You can buy "Paid Currency" in the game, where you can buy in-game cosmetic items, small exp boosts, and sometimes convenience upgrades for your account. And also, you can trade this "Paid Currency" to other players, who do not have money, for in-game currency and items, allowing more players to have the cosmetic items, boosters, and convenience upgrades.

Also of course, the evil twin Pay 2 Win offered a similar service, but instead of offering cosmetic items, small boosters, and convenience, they offered powerful weapons, game-breaking account upgrades, and pay 4 access areas. But this is irrelevant, there is always an equally powerful evil for every good created. We make Nuclear Power Plants, and also a Nuclear Bomb. Just because the bomb exists doesn't mean the power plants are evil.

I am advocating for Hades 9 to be Free to Play, with a buyable in-game currency that can be used for cosmetics/boosters/account upgrades for convenience.
If you disagree with this, let me know why, and let me know what you think a better business model would be.
Flatlander
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:09 am

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Kyrie626 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:55 am

F2P is perfectly fine as long as you, the developers, retain full control. If an external publisher controls the monetization of the game, I fear great failure.

My recommendations would be that if you go through a publisher, and they wish to control monetization, then stick to up-front payments and subscription options.

Some specific ideas: EVE, one of the longest running subscription games still doing well, adopted a fairly intelligent approach to F2P:
-Alpha accounts can access all aspects of the game in a limited way
-Omega (paid sub) is necessary to have meaningful progression.
-Optional services are sold (character transfers, skill extractors, skins)

The closest EvE ever comes to p2w are the skill injectors -- but that is a pretty minor issue.

I dislike lootboxes intensely. I hate the very concept of them. I do not want them to be a part of an MMORTS. In an RPG, no problem -- but not an MMORTS.
Kyrie626
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:41 pm

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Nick » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:03 pm

Let me start by saying, in theory, I think f2p can be done very well, and one of my most played "chill out with a beer" game is f2p (warthunder) and honestly, I have no problems with that model as a gamer, sometimes it is done badly, even with Warthunder there are some premium tanks which are dancing on the edge of pay to win.

However, there is a second problem, from a design perspective F2P creates an internal pressure on every design meeting of "how can we make this make money" or "does this new feature support the monetization" this kind of mentality is incredibly limited as designers especially before release. It also is insanely hard as developers to stay aligned with your players, in a pay to play model, the developers are rewarded for how fun the game is, and how much players are willing to tell their friends to join. but in a free to play model, the entire population of the world can be playing the game and having an infinite amount of fun, but if none of them is buying anything its a catastrophic failer.

our last publisher had an incredible amount of experience with developing and publishing f2p games, and I was in many monetization design meetings with them, and what I realized is even the games that are not "pay to win" normally are, its just hidden in a way that's not obvious to the players who don't pay. and I get it, you all will remember how insanely anti pay to win I was but even I ended up giving in to more and more of these ideas in meetings with the publisher because if you are f2p you don't really have a choice =/. This leads into what Kyrie said, which is "if the developer has full control of the monetization" this never happens unless there is no publisher, but there is almost no way to launch a major title independently that is f2p, because you need a large boost of funds on launch day to fund dealing with all the issues that launch will cause. however with an f2p launch, the first few months you are barely making money, and you need to be funding marketing and fixing all the problems etc but without any money to do it.

As I said in the post I am a bit biest because of those experiences however I do not consider this my decision its something we will all take part in.

I also do fully agree the additional players f2p brings is priceless in a MMO!

There is another option which Team fortus 2 did very well IMO, launch as pay to play, polish the shit out of the game and slowly add insane amounts of content then once its all done and always well balanced and battle-tested, you open it up as f2p a few years after launch to "restart" the game. this is also very similar to what EVE did, if you are transitioning to f2p once the game is really finished and polished and balanced, you can support a much more mild payment model.

You also have much less room for error with F2P, one mistake, and it dies instantly, because no one is "vested" in it early on, if you didn't pay anything for it, you won't keep playing after 5 min if your not having lots of fun. just stop and go to another game you know you like, why not? you lose nothing. this is particularly complicated when you are looking at an independent release and continued polishing and improvement. because there will be issues, there will be things that players need to "put up with" until they get fixed.


(I just want to clarify this is not a final statement just "NO F2P BECAUSE THIS NOW STFU" just my opinions in a very complex discussion with pros and cons for both sides. I'm very grateful you brought up this post and I will pin it to make sure more people get involved in this discussion. this is EXACTLY the kind of talks we all need to be having to make sure the end result really is the best possible for all regards.)
Nick
User avatar
Suit Battle Armour Commander
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Out to Lunch

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Kyrie626 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:43 pm

Nick,

All very sensible points. I understand intuitively that if you take on a publisher, the usual deal is they give you the money upfront to build it, and then control how the generates revenues thereafter. And that is the rub -- publishers will seek to maximize profit at the expense of game quality. The dirty secret of most online gaming is that the F2P model is usually more profitable (in various units of measurement) than the traditional subscription or one-time-box payment option.

Another completely different game that I enjoy playing, Heroes & Generals, is self-published as an F2P title and you can see how all the decisions are made looking at the company balance-sheet *despite there being no external publisher*.

I believe starting out as a traditional box-sale and optional subscription model might be the way to go starting out. It allows you to retain control. The next big question is how to fund the game -- it would seem a new round of kickstarter would be necessary?
Kyrie626
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:41 pm

 

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Flatlander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:05 pm

This is how my gaming community works generally:
Me, Xagul, and Evulz - Have a lot of disposable income, we buy all our games, and usually buy the best pack available (limited edition pre-order deluxe mega giga tetra pack!) or whatever and if it is Free 2 Play we enjoy buying tons of loot boxes, cosmetics, etc, because we want to look unique and different than other players. (Also, we both work, a lot, and experience boosts can help us keep up with our friends who seem to have an infinite amount of time)

Xagul runs his own Free 2 Play game (MMORPG) which has micro-transactions, and for a solo indie developer he does very well (His game has a Optional VIP Subscription, and pay 4 cosmetic and pay for convenience, and a actual slot machine that people seem to spend hundreds of dollars a day gambling on)

I also have run a few Free 2 Play games MMORPGs, but I have a weird Pride thing where I won't allow people to pay for anything until I feel the game is "good enough" and it is never good enough, so I usually just pay for the servers myself and develop them as a hobby.

Then we get to the REST of my gaming community.
A bunch of people with either no money, or would rather spend money on weed and booze rather than buy the next game.
So me, Evulz, and Xagul usually have to chip in together, and buy 10-20 copies of every game we play, so that everyone can participate.

Then, once we do buy them a copy of these games, since they have so much free time, they often blow past us in levels and we cannot even play with them. So Me Evulz and Xagul often buy Experience Boosts and other things to keep up with our friends.

Now, there is a game called Battlerite, that came out in Closed Beta (Pay for Access) then later for Free (That we all enjoy) that is now supported strictly by Cosmetics (I buy them and so does Evulz. Xagulz does not play this style of game, he prefers grind and progression with lots of character building options).
I spend between $100-$500 a month on video games, honestly mostly for cosmetics. So do Xagul and Evulz (Evulz actually started doing the bot-farming thing, so he buys like 20 copies of a game and starts gold farming sometimes and it's always interesting to see how often he gets banned, etc)

I feel $60 is for a 12-20 hour game. Online games last HUNDREDS of hours. It is pretty ridiculous that people expect to pay one time, and then get infinite content.

Netflix doesn't have a 1 time $60 charge, and then you get to watch all the TV shows and Movies ever created forever. They'd go out of business, why would we expect online video games to be any different.

I am fine with whatever you do. (As long as it doesn't cause you to stop supporting the game)
I plan to play the game (and have my entire gaming community at least try it) no matter what.

I just prefer to play games that are Free 2 Play, because they have more players and it is easier to get friends to try it. (Then if they like it, they can spend some money on it)

I throw my money at any product that is good. The longer I play your product, and the more shiny things you present that allow me to make my Fleet Ship stand out from other Commanders, the more I will spend.

Want to make infinite money?
1) First - Make the game fun and have a lot of players.
2) Put in loot boxes, and have cosmetics that change your colors, ship models, hull textures, rocket colors/animations, laser colors/animations, bomber skins, fighter skins, torpedo skins, explosion animation skins, death animation skins, kill animation skins, etc.

If your game is fun, and I can kill a person in PvP and when they die my ship shoots out a fleet of ships to do a Fly-By leaving trails that draw a "Troll-Face" Meme, i'll pay $600 rolling loot boxes to get it.
Flatlander
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:09 am

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Nick » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:01 pm

Kyrie626 wrote:I believe starting out as a traditional box-sale and optional subscription model might be the way to go starting out. It allows you to retain control. The next big question is how to fund the game -- it would seem a new round of kickstarter would be necessary?


Kyrie,
I don't know if a new Kickstarter is 'strategically' a good move, the reality is there will always be a vocal minority of people who do not want to listen to what happened and why I had to make the decisions I did, and I would not be surprised to see these people dedicated a sufficient amount of time to try to sabotage a new Kickstarter campaign. (i know its kinda illogical because i am offering refunds out of launch profits so even if they hate me better to just wait and get their money back instead of sabotaging it and never getting anything, but such is life)

Due to that, i think some kind of website based founders program may work best, Luckily we are not far from initial playable build focusing on combat, just a few months. so i was thinking of maybe doing something similar to what "They Are Billions" did, basically selling simple founders packs via there website, kind of like a simplified Kickstarter, so with no end date. actually, it's more like preordering then Kickstarter.

we could also maybe add some custom skins and uniforms in as well. one idea I did have was a mini Kickstarter for each new capital ship. i.e. any artist can propose a capital ship design, in a simple format, the community votes on the ones they like, and the highest voted design each month gets selected for development, then there are "founders packs" for that specific capital ship, getting your name on the ships bio as a lead engineer of it, a unique founder skin for that specific ship, being involved in the development of the ship from mining it to its role etc.and there would be a limited number of founder slots for each capital ship so once the ship is funded and developed its over, so its a prestigues thing to be part of and till the day the game dies you will be comemorated as one of the people who made that ship posible. I don't know if it is a good idea, just something I was messing around with.

Flatlander wrote:
This is how my gaming community works generally:
Me, Xagul, and Evulz - Have a lot of disposable income, we buy all our games, and usually buy the best pack available (limited edition pre-order deluxe mega giga tetra pack!) or whatever and if it is Free 2 Play we enjoy buying tons of loot boxes, cosmetics, etc, because we want to look unique and different than other players. (Also, we both work, a lot, and experience boosts can help us keep up with our friends who seem to have an infinite amount of time)

Xagul runs his own Free 2 Play game (MMORPG) which has micro-transactions, and for a solo indie developer he does very well (His game has a Optional VIP Subscription, and pay 4 cosmetic and pay for convenience, and a actual slot machine that people seem to spend hundreds of dollars a day gambling on)

I also have run a few Free 2 Play games MMORPGs, but I have a weird Pride thing where I won't allow people to pay for anything until I feel the game is "good enough" and it is never good enough, so I usually just pay for the servers myself and develop them as a hobby.

Then we get to the REST of my gaming community.
A bunch of people with either no money, or would rather spend money on weed and booze rather than buy the next game.
So me, Evulz, and Xagul usually have to chip in together, and buy 10-20 copies of every game we play, so that everyone can participate.

Then, once we do buy them a copy of these games, since they have so much free time, they often blow past us in levels and we cannot even play with them. So Me Evulz and Xagul often buy Experience Boosts and other things to keep up with our friends.

Now, there is a game called Battlerite, that came out in Closed Beta (Pay for Access) then later for Free (That we all enjoy) that is now supported strictly by Cosmetics (I buy them and so does Evulz. Xagulz does not play this style of game, he prefers grind and progression with lots of character building options).
I spend between $100-$500 a month on video games, honestly mostly for cosmetics. So do Xagul and Evulz (Evulz actually started doing the bot-farming thing, so he buys like 20 copies of a game and starts gold farming sometimes and it's always interesting to see how often he gets banned, etc)

I feel $60 is for a 12-20 hour game. Online games last HUNDREDS of hours. It is pretty ridiculous that people expect to pay one time, and then get infinite content.

Netflix doesn't have a 1 time $60 charge, and then you get to watch all the TV shows and Movies ever created forever. They'd go out of business, why would we expect online video games to be any different.

I am fine with whatever you do. (As long as it doesn't cause you to stop supporting the game)
I plan to play the game (and have my entire gaming community at least try it) no matter what.

I just prefer to play games that are Free 2 Play, because they have more players and it is easier to get friends to try it. (Then if they like it, they can spend some money on it)

I throw my money at any product that is good. The longer I play your product, and the more shiny things you present that allow me to make my Fleet Ship stand out from other Commanders, the more I will spend.

Want to make infinite money?
1) First - Make the game fun and have a lot of players.
2) Put in loot boxes, and have cosmetics that change your colors, ship models, hull textures, rocket colors/animations, laser colors/animations, bomber skins, fighter skins, torpedo skins, explosion animation skins, death animation skins, kill animation skins, etc.

If your game is fun, and I can kill a person in PvP and when they die my ship shoots out a fleet of ships to do a Fly-By leaving trails that draw a "Troll-Face" Meme, I'll pay $600 rolling loot boxes to get it.


I totally get what you mean, I play Warthunder with my best friend (and Writer for Hades 9 Guo) like this, he has a lot more free time and disposable income then I do, so he regularly is buying me premium tanks and gifting me subscriptions so that I can keep up to his level of play.

I guess my main concern is more at this stage of development I really don't want to be designing for monetization, I want to be designing for fun. I fear that if given the option to design for profit and only profit, I may falter in my stance on no pay to win which I think would result in a worse game.

That said, there is this other side of monetization of paying to progress, which at least in Warthunder I don't mind at all, my friend is at a higher tier than me, so I just buy a premium tank at that tier to be able to play with him. Something like this could maybe be done well it honestly just scares me a little. Where to draw the line, or knowing that if you make that new premium just a tiny bit OP, it will sell like hotcakes but make the game less fun for many people. even if they won't quit they will be enjoying there experience less.

Looteryboxes are another issue, honestly, I don't know where I stand on them, They have a lot of value from a developer perspective as they are very easy to make, and can make stupid amounts of money. but I just don't know how I feel, especially how they are seen now in the current culture. This is one of those decisions I guess, where on the one hand you just get more money, that's it more money no one will quit the game because of it. but... it will make a lot of people enjoy the game less because they maybe would have enough money to just buy the 1 cheep skin they wanted, but instead, they have to gamble for it.

I honestly don't know what is the right decision here. There is also the other problem with PR, if we are doing a founders program kind of fundraseing to finish development, if we introduce lottery boxes, pay to progress, etc that will probably turn off many players from supporting the project at this early stage. (Im not acualy sure if it will but I dont think its unlikly)
Nick
User avatar
Suit Battle Armour Commander
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Out to Lunch

 

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Flatlander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:31 pm

Let me explain how I would do it.
(I'm arrogant and always think I am right, but I think I am logical so I would hope I can explain this to you in a way that everyone would agree is beneficial to all players.

Let's say you create different Paints you can use to paint your ship.
  • Common Paints: (Primary and Secondary Colors would be the most common) Blue, Green, Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple
  • Uncommon Paints: (Other Colors) Basically all other colors imagionable
  • Rare Paints: (Textured Paints): Metallic, Carbon Fiber, Crosshatched, etc
  • Ultra-Rare Paints: (Animated Paintjobs) You could have animated paintjobs for your ships with moving fire, maybe make it look like a fish-tank, glowing, etc.

Now, you have the Paint jobs created.
You place them all in the following configurations:
  • "Global Lootbox" - Contains all cosmetic items in the game.
  • "Paint Lootbox" - Contains only paint cosmetics.
  • "NPC Shop Randomizer" - List of items NPCs can have when you shop
  • "In-Game Loot" - List of items you can loot in-game.

So now let's get to the player experience.
Typical Free Player:
I log in, and I play your game for a little while, in the first tutorial quest, you give me a Paint Job Lootbox for free. I open it, and I roll a Red Paintjob (By luck, other players will get different paint jobs) that I can apply to my ship if I want.
Now, my favorite color is green, but whatever, Maybe I think Red is better than "Black" or "Gray" so I go to the Space Station Hub and get my ship painted with my new Red Paint.
After a few more quests, I go to sell some extra items to an NPC and notice this NPC has the option to buy a Blue Paintjob for a reasonable in-game price, or Gunmetal Grey (Ultra-Rare) for a ridiculous price. I decide not to buy the Blue Paintjob, but I will check back later to see if maybe he has Green.
Free Player might also just loot a Paintjob while doing normal missions as part of the randomized loot table.

"Whale" (Paying Player who spends alot of money)
I log in, much like the free player, and during the tutorial obtain the Paint Lootbox. I open it and obtain the color Purple, during the "Open Lootbox" animation I see that there is a "Green Lightning" Paintjob where your ship is glowing green and has holographic lightning strikes happening all over it and it looks amazing. I spend $100 buying in-game currency, and I buy a "50 lootbox" pack that gives +10 free lootboxes for the "Bulk" purchase. (Costs me $40 worth of in-game currency).
I might not receive that exact Paintjob, but I get something else cool and decide to spend my next $40 on the Global Lootbox to see what else I could get.
I have $20 of in-game currency left, but it is more efficient to buy the $40 lootbox packs than the $20 packs so I save it for now in case I end up buying more currency later.

Both players (free and whale) "should" be happy and content with the gameplay since they both have access to all of the items, and the "Whale" does not have an unfair advantage (because he only can get Cosmetics in this example)
Flatlander
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:09 am

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Nick » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:04 pm

Agreed, this cosmetic only system is not to bad, but it does not even touch on the pay to progress which is where most of my concerns lies.

There is also the current bad PR issue of lottery boxes which matters more if we are going a founders program funding root.
Nick
User avatar
Suit Battle Armour Commander
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:31 pm
Location: Out to Lunch

 

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Flatlander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:17 pm

Basically every game has loot boxes, and I agree DLC/Loot Boxes/Micro-transactions all have bad PR, but if you do them correctly the bad PR won't be targeted at you.

Pay to Progress is never a good option.

I would suggest having something like the following 3 ways to support Hades 9:
  1. Cosmetic-Only loot boxes -- This loot boxes could include anything to customize your fleet, and commander (even chat color).
  2. Monthly VIP Subscription -- This could include a +5% exp/loot bonus (If you have a party system, also make the 5% given to party members but make it non-stacking) and a daily global lootbox.
  3. Account changes/upgrades -- Name Change, Re-design your main character (if you have character customization), More Fleet-Ship Slots (So you can have more storage for ship-types)

There is only 1 thing that I really enjoy from games that are not Free 2 Play.
It discourages hackers, bots, and gold farmers when they get banned and have to buy another $60 copy of the game.

It's strange but, I actually WANT to give money to games that I like.
The more things you offer me that I can spend money on, the more likely I am to spend more money on your game.

Just make it so you can obtain everything in-game as well.
Flatlander
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:09 am

 

Re: F2P and Lootboxes (Honestly I think they are a good thin

Postby Flatlander » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:24 pm

Like you said above, I would still do a "Closed Beta" with paid access before releasing your game for free 2 play, use it to polish the game, and make some initial money.

Path of Exile did it, They even had a $2000 pack where you could design a unique in-game item.
There were MULTIPLE people who bought that pack, it was ridiculous.
Flatlander
 
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:09 am

Next

Return to Kickstarter

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests