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#1 Edited by Eurobum (487 posts) -

In an attempt to sort out this issue for myself, I planned to take apart the methods big-gaming uses and the reasons free-to-play, in game monetization and games-as-a-service doesn't sit well with players and why most people tolerate it regardless. Frankly I'm annoyed by the insidious marketing spin that has entered the duder vernacular with words like "cosmetics", as if somehow burly heteros were buying lipstick*.

Anyway, the gist of my argument was a thing I heard a developer talk about, years ago. How a format (such as an arcade cabinet) basically can poison a game. Pondering this somewhat abstract idea. I came across a great analogy for something, that indeed most people simply aren't willing to admit or think about. This is but the briefest possible summary I could conjure up, and it may appear somewhat one sided.

Imagine a child with a soccer ball on a busy street. Should he or she play in traffic?

Why they shouldn't play in the street has nothing to do with their love for the beautiful game. Their passion or interest isn't in question, nor is the quality of the ball, shoes or jersey. Sometimes risks and circumstances are enough, to reject, prohibit and condemn something categorically. Good free-to-play doesn't exist, because under no circumstance is it acceptable to play in traffic. Nobody and especially not children should play games which are free-to-play or include any kind of post release monetization, it is just to darn risky!

Right now we live in a culture where metaphorically not enough horses have spooked, not enough wagon-wheels have been broken, not enough Ford T-models have been dented in said traffic. It's particularly dangerous because of the delay, there is no bloody gore, no loud bang, no weeping mothers and there are no witnesses. How do you kill that, which has no life? (Reference) People simply don't know what they are risking.

  • The obvious risk is fraud: From the simple "best value" pricing tricks and currency conversion antics, to any kind of virtual item. Virtual items are simply objectively worthless and the more reasons you try to find to the contrary, the more are you going to hurt your pretty little head. I can only describe it as a "pump and dump" scam, artificial scarcity creates a perception of demand, and although sometimes there is a real market, all these things eventually end up value-less and even non-accessible. Besides, the central essential component of any fraud is misdirection and distraction, which comes already built-in with games. Moreover and slightly more obvious: gambling is a kind of fraud, which is why it is and should be illegal. The technicality why gambling in games isn't regulated, is basically because the law assumes nobody would gamble, if they couldn't win money back...
  • The biggest risk however is not monetary but personal, it's a mental disorder, a prioritization disorder. When games seize to be something to do in your free time, but ask the person to make and spend time, regularly, then games become more important than actually important stuff. Call it gaming disorder or addiction, it affects the behavior of all players, and free-to-play and games-as-a-service titles are deliberately designed to keep people hooked, prioritizing simple in game goals over hard challenges in their life. Prioritizing gaming and fake online acquaintances* over a social life, prioritizing game over sleep ... all of it is problematic. The genuinely felt love (attachment, appreciation) people start feeling for games is but a consequence of the time a game spends pushing our buttons. The potential of any addictive substance or activity, to dominate and steal a persons ambition is their biggest risk. Everybody is at risk. The higher budget the games become, the greater are these risks. And right now we see big-gaming rushing and tripping over themselves to announce the next big mobile spin off, and slipping multiplayer progression and monetization into critically acclaimed titles post release.
comic by Adam Ellis
comic by Adam Ellis

Something rarely discussed but extremely relevant is the surrender and submission that games require. When you watch a movie you surrender about two hours of your time, trusting that you will be entertained, informed or emotionally titillated. It would be stupid to simply stop the movie or walk out of the theater the moment it starts to drag. If you are watching with someone else, you simply have to see it through. Because of their interactive nature and multiplayer games are much more powerful and engaging than a two-hour movie and they are potentially endless. Free-to-play games are designed to abuse the trust that people put into game developers for maximal monetary gain. They are a promise that never quite comes true.

Games have enormous power over players. After all being able to control what somebody else is doing, is what "power" means in a socio-political sense. F2P Games can and do use anything from marketing trickery like incentives, false promises, peer pressure to hardcore brainwashing techniques like sleep deprivation, negative reinforcement and isolation in a group of like minded, to control player behavior with the EXPLICIT goal of making all of them stay and making some of them pay.

The prioritization disorder endless gaming creates is not a coincidence or a psychological weakness, players surrender control to the game voluntarily, to enjoy it, while the game prioritizes for them in their surrendered state. It's simple cause and effect. This should apply to a lot of long games. Which is why the clinical definition insists on a long time / habitual type of gaming over-prioritization, to actually make the diagnosis. See how games-as-a-service directly correlates to that, and how it suddenly becomes problematic, yet?

Regardless how much we love games or any game in particular, in game item monetization, free-to-play and games-as-a-service are simply unacceptable, because of their potential and explicit purpose to be abused, to ruin people's lives and to steal people's time/money.

Should someone decide that he's a big boy, who is old enough to know what he should and shouldn't do and play in traffic regardless. Sorry. Big boy is quite the modern excuse, to fleece and abuse someone with impunity, it is effectively synonymous with an easy target or a mark. The big boy attitude is quite commonplace in modern business, ever since companies figured out that people would rather be cheated again and again, than admit as much to themselves. In reality everybody, myself included, can be cheated, tricked and fooled. Only (untracked) real social networks of real people, preferably including individuals of all ages and walks of life, can protect us somewhat, but of course they too are vulnerable.

Like all terrible political ideologies before it, commercialism is hard at work to destroy the core family, to drive a wedge between generations and genders, to isolate people, or at least isolate them in a group of like minded and to promote the moronic belief of Individualism. #Fansites #Subreddits #Fake news #"Me, personally"

The wisdom that applied to MMOs twenty years ago still holds and is just as true for free-to-play: "The only winning move is not to play."

Apparently it's a quote from "Wargames"(1983) and refers to game theory of mutual nuclear annihilation, but it more aptly describes the self-destruction of personality, ambition and priority caused by free-to-play, ongoing games as-a-service, as well the lottery, gambling, online-poker, pyramid MLM, get rich quick schemes and every other scam in existence. The only winning move is not to play.

The simplest proof is this: Companies that have some degree of ethics, because they have to when marketing to children and parents, simply don't allow free-to-play, with the exception of demos (free-to-start). But even that is a concession.

*Cosmetics and fake social interaction is explained in a follow up post #53. Click here

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#2 Posted by klownboots (203 posts) -

I initially wanted to argue but honestly.... you are spot on, especially regarding the surrendering your time. Every free-to-play game I have done has taken more time (and as such, energy and effort) to reach a point of "fun" than anything I have paid up front or monthly (or both) for. I think being more consciously aware of this would be good for me because holy crap do I not have that much time to game in the first place...

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#3 Posted by Efesell (4510 posts) -

I feel like there may well be a good point here that is then totally crushed by the finality..

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#4 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1343 posts) -

There's a lot going on here. Some decent points about the manipulative nature of certain games and business models.

But the overall conclusion, that FTP is never good, is ridiculous. In order for that to be true, all FTP games must be equally manipulative. That simply isn't the case, and to suggest that they all exist on the same level betrays a staggering ignorance of the variety of FTP games on the market.

The weird assertion about online acquaintances being "fake" is frankly absurd, particularly in an age when relationships, businesses, and friendships can start, evolve, and flourish online.

The line about cosmetics is just plain weird.

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#5 Edited by Mike (17997 posts) -

There may be more logical fallacies in this single post than have ever been collected into a single post on Giant Bomb over the last ten years, and that's really saying something.

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#6 Edited by wheelhouse (26 posts) -

I'd posit Fornite BR as not a bad Free to Play model.

But that's because I'm an adult and have control over my wallet.

I did end up spending $10 on it for a Battlepass, which may disqualify my opinion, and played 2.5 seasons, completing every challenge in the 3 passes I purchased (2 with earned Vbucks from prior passes) and purchasing a couple skins I liked. I had fun. I most definitely got my money's worth.

Fortnite BR is massively financially successful due to, from what I can gather, children. You bring them up, and while I would agree there's an issue with marketing to children being shady, it's always been that way (and not just in games - think food, toys - really anything a child could want). And it's always been up to parents to raise their children properly and control their spending - not give them free reign and access to a credit card.

You also want to 100% blame the companies for exploitive tactics and marketing, and, sure, they deserve some of the blame. But what about holding people accountable for their own actions? If 21 year old gamer Jimmy has issues that could lead him down the path of addiction, why is it only everyone else's responsibility to coddle him? Why is it not also his (and his family) responsibility to recognize things that are bad for him, and watch out for them himself? I'm not saying that the tactics used are good, positive things for the world, but Jimmy (and/or his family) doing nothing about his potential problems is also not a good, positive thing. Without gaming, someone like Jimmy will find another hobby/addiction anyway, most likely (it's a personality thing).

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#8 Edited by Jesus_Phish (3885 posts) -
@kingbonesaw said:

Warframe is pretty good.

Came here to say that. Warframe is an excellent free to play model and shows that it can work, can foster a healthy community (honestly one of the nicest around) and a good relationship between the devs and the community.

I've played it since launch and I gave them money to support it. All I use my in game money for it cosmetics and unlocking additional storage. I build every weapon and warframe myself because I can farm the parts easily enough and I like playing it to do that.

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#9 Posted by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@klownboots: Thank you. That's very gracious. Mostly people post to disagree, which is fine and I will take the time to politely shoot down all and any actual arguments or admit my errors. but I'm glad this stuff rings true to you as it does to me.

It is still completely mind baffling, being able to just sit down and play something that took perhaps a collective million hours to program, completely free. Perhaps some people are even hesitant to criticize such a windfall. Still, there is always a catch.

People think they know what the catch is, but it appears to be rather complicated and very much worth talking about.

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#10 Posted by Efesell (4510 posts) -

Oh no I remember you now.

You exploded into a topic vaguely about MMOs with the most baffling 'MMOs killed my dog' attitude I'd ever seen and tried to convince everyone we lied to ourselves about enjoying them..

I thought you were a troll and now this is just somewhat concerning.

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#11 Posted by someoneproud (585 posts) -

Warframe is pretty good.

This... I'd agree that it is a practice that is often used terribly and manipulatively but there are a few notable exceptions and I don't subscribe to the idea that it is inherently bad.

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#12 Posted by squigiliwams (97 posts) -
@eurobum said:

Regardless how much we love games or any game in particular, in game item monetization, free-to-play and games-as-a-service are simply unacceptable, because of their potential and explicit purpose to be abused, to ruin people's lives and to steal people's time/money.

Like all terrible political ideologies before it, commercialism is hard at work to destroy the core family, to drive a wedge between generations and genders, to isolate people, or at least isolate them in a group of like minded and to promote the moronic belief of Individualism. #Fansites #Subreddits #Fake news #"Me, personally"

The wisdom that applied to MMOs twenty years ago still holds and is just as true for free-to-play: "The only winning move is not to play."

The simplest proof is this: Companies that have some degree of ethics, because they have to when marketing to children and parents, simply don't allow free-to-play, with the exception of demos (free-to-start). But even that is a concession.

This is pretty extreme dude. Understanding value and whats valuable to you is a core part of maturing into an adult. Like all life skills some people are better at it than others. It's not even just a strict 'commercialism ruins everything' sort of thing. I had a toxic relationship with my parents and decided there was little to no value in that relationship, and theres nothing to do with purchases or currency in it.

Also I would like to point out that you're making assumptions on how everyone else responds to these horrid practices. I would say the majority of the games I play are service games or F2P games. I've put money into heroes of the storm, league of legends, ive bought destiny 1 and 2 and its DLC, and the big one here: I have literally never been un-subbed to Final Fantasy XIV. Never. 5 straight years (since the 2.0 release) i've maintained a sub to that game and played.

I'm trying to find this ruination and horror in my life. I put more 80 hour weeks into work in 2018 than I ever have, that obviously did more harm than my XIV sub.

In the end, whats your point? You want to make it illegal? You want nothing but God of War style games to be made?

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#13 Edited by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@bladeofcreation said:

But the overall conclusion, that FTP is never good, is ridiculous. In order for that to be true, all FTP games must be equally manipulative. That simply isn't the case, and to suggest that they all exist on the same level betrays a staggering ignorance of the variety of FTP games on the market.

The weird assertion about online acquaintances being "fake" is frankly absurd, particularly in an age when relationships, businesses, and friendships can start, evolve, and flourish online.

The line about cosmetics is just plain weird.

Look, I realize that I'm trowing out a sweeping generalization, but I do so to challenge a persistent lie, that there is a way to do F2P right.

In formal logic asserting something like: all swans are white, would be near impossible to prove and easy to disprove. Just present a black swan. BTW, I challenge anyone to name and make the case for a good free-to-play game. My two already named criteria: 1. not being deceptive, 2. not addicting (not perpetual).

Formal logic aside, in reality there is value to understanding, that swans are white and that black swans are mere exceptions that prove the rule. In reality there such a thing as a degree of certainty. I can say, with a high degree of certainty, that F2P simply has to be exploitative and extortionate to make money. Such is the power of abstraction: it applies to a lot of things, but I might be wrong. I just don't see how.

Besides while it isn't hard to make free-to-play games on mobile, the market isn't all that diverse. It is dominated by a very small number of big titles, when it comes to multiplayer games. Although there is a high churn rate. While the seemingly endless procession of single player F2P and their clones, basically has to be pay-to-win, which, people already seem to agree, is kind of bad.

It's really peculiar just how similar games and in-game item shops are (from the limited sample I've witnessed), the tricks are the same everywhere. From time gated progression, to the two currency systems and the infamous blind boxes. Understanding how it works, I simply cannot unsee it.

There are reasons: The target audience for free-to-play are basically younger people, who are rather crafty freeloaders, making them spend is not that easy, games have to go with what works.

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#14 Edited by Efesell (4510 posts) -

I mean people have already named a very good example in this thread a couple of times with Warframe. It is not at all deceptive, being extremely upfront about its business model and how much or not at all you want to engage with it, and does not build itself around lootboxes or other gambling methods so I'm not sure you can make much of a case for 'addiction'.

Path of Exile is another fantastic example. You don't need to spend a cent on that game and I can't recall ever being particularly encouraged to do so.

But let's be real here you are posing an impossible challenge from the start because it's abundantly clear that your mind is beyond set.

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#15 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4411 posts) -

I think certain games just don't gain traction when you put a monetary barrier up. For instance Dota 2. Would people be interested in paying 60$ for a game that requires you to put in at least 50 hours to build enough knowledge to sort of know what you need to do to be able to win a game? While having to deal with 9 other humans that might not play the game in the correct way or straight up make it impossible to win? A similar game like Heroes of Newerth was released too early to get on the free to play boat and were selling their game for 30$. This turned out to be a massive hindrance in asia because the netcafe's were just not going to pay for copies of the game when there were free to play alternatives with a bigger userbase out there, like League of Legends. HoN eventually turned free to play, but it was too little too late. These games have huge skill differences among players, so you need to have a big userbase to be able to serve all those people matches where they feel like they have a shot at winning. When Starcraft 2 started to die off, it became really hard to get into the game because even the lower ranks were filled with experienced players that were still good enough to mop the floor with any newcomers. Dota 2 is slowly but surely getting to that point as well. You just need a large amount of players to get reasonable match ups at all skill levels , and by making your game free, you are able to attract a larger audience.

When looking at dota2 through your criteria i feel like it's not deceptive (no secundary currencies, no gameplay benefits to cosmetics, can buy what you want from the market instead of engaging with lootboxes) but it's definitly addictive. But i feel like that's not because of it's free to play nature. After all, matches hardly ever reward you with shiny cosmetics. No, it's that you keep getting better at the game each time you play. You start to see the patterns that get you killed across games and learn to avoid them. You learn how you deal with different heroes. You learn how to play different roles. The feeling of ever getting closer to mastery of this complex game is what drives people to keep playing it. But because it's an everchanging game, no one will ever truly reach full mastery of the game.

I feel like it's not as much the F2P aspect that makes these games addictive, i feel like it's mostly the repetitive and never ending nature of these games where you are pretty much doing the same thing from hour 1 to hour 500, but always work towards something. Take Call of Duty, where you just keep playing the same maps hoping to do better & better and unlock new items for your guns. Spelunky is addictive because you want to get through the whole thing and see all it's secrets. in Binding of Isaac, i want to see all these combinations of traits lead to interesting runs. In Diablo , i want to keep seeing my character acquire better gear and get through the game on higher & higher difficulties. Games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Sims & Football manager are addictive in a similar way, because you are always able to set new goals for yourself and continue to play. I want to create a murderpark with crashing rollercoasters and expensive toilets. I want to kill my whole sims family and have fun with the ghosts. I want to take this local club all the way to the top of the Champions League. With a linear game, the drive to keep playing this game ends as the game ends. You've seen the content, you experienced the story. With a replayable game, whenever your goal is achieved, you are able to keep playing it by setting a new goal for yourself. The ability to keep playing the game over and over is what makes a game addictive to me.

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#16 Edited by Zeik (5197 posts) -

I really hate how often the internet turns what could have been a reasonable and sound argument into extremist nonsense. For every valid point here I end up rolling my eyes moments later. If you were willing to dial back the "F2P games are the spawn of satan" rhetoric there might be a conversation here. But instead I'm just going to pretend I never read this and probably go play some F2P games.

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#17 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2066 posts) -

This person did the exact same thing regarding MMO games, saying that nobody could enjoy them. And now they're doing the same thing here. This person believes they know better than anybody else and will not be deterred from that viewpoint.

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#18 Posted by Mister_V (2442 posts) -

Did this escape from the Onion? Some of the most profoundly ill informed writing I have seen on the internet in a good long time, well played OP.

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#19 Edited by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@efesell said:

I mean people have already named a very good example in this thread a couple of times with Warframe. It is not at all deceptive, being extremely upfront about its business model and how much or not at all you want to engage with it, and does not build itself around lootboxes or other gambling methods so I'm not sure you can make much of a case for 'addiction'.

Path of Exile is another fantastic example. You don't need to spend a cent on that game and I can't recall ever being particularly encouraged to do so.

But let's be real here you are posing an impossible challenge from the start because it's abundantly clear that your mind is beyond set.

Why should my mind matter at all. But you are right it is a trick. I obviously don't think people will be able to produce an example. All free-to-play games tend also to be "games-as-a-service" and by definition something that keeps people busy with time gated challenges, progression grind, loot farming basically meddles in a player's priorities.

Path of Exile is a Diablo clone, which is basically a loot/slot machine, is it not? Same goes for Warframe, it's basically Destiny loot-chute.

Competitive games like Dota, CS:GO, skew towards blind boxes, while RPGs can safely rely on addiction. This shouldn't surprise you. And yes clearly Free-to-play is an evolution of the MMO model, discussed in a previous topic I hijacked.

Do I enjoy telling people, that there is no Santa? - Not, particularly. I know how soul crushing disillusionment can be. But there are benefits, I've always had a suspicion and about being cheated, when playing an addictive game, but it isn't easy to articulate this intuition. In 2017 I've read a meta study about the Prevalence of Gaming Disorder in Adolescents, but it only said that research in the type of games is ongoing. In this topic I tried to make a case and collect my thoughts for which games do the most harm and how.

Being able to tell the difference, between good and bad games, is very advantageous. It makes the choice of game easier, it frees up a lot of time. In the past I simply rejected all games at times, but now I can seek out non exploitative games with a clear conscience, knowing that they have the benefit of a warm satisfying conclusion instead of a cold turkey.

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#20 Posted by Mike (17997 posts) -

@eurobum said:

Why should my mind matter at all. But you are right it is a trick. I obviously don't think people will be able to produce an example. All free-to-play games tend also to be "games-as-a-service" and by definition something that keeps people busy with time gated challenges, progression grind, loot farming basically meddles in a player's priorities.

Here is the thing it seems like you might be completely missing. Some people enjoy that type of experience. They like to grind away and earn things in games that take inordinate amounts of time - they find it fun, and playing F2P games for free or nearly free is part of the experience for them. It's completely fine if you don't enjoy that type of game, but try to see these things from others' perspectives.

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#21 Edited by Efesell (4510 posts) -

There's a whole lot there..

But most importantly reconsider that whole Santa bit. You are not stepping in as the wise elder and cutting through fantasy with hard truths that we may or may not want to hear. You are just sort of spewing a whole mess of unfocused ideas about an entire genre being The Devil.

Which if that's a belief you want to cling to that's fine but remember that's all it is. I realize this sounds very "well that's just your opinion.." but you've gone about so many things with this sort of You Just don't Know Any Better attitude that it might be worth saying anyway.

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#23 Edited by Jesus_Phish (3885 posts) -

@eurobum said:

Path of Exile is a Diablo clone, which is basically a loot/slot machine, is it not? Same goes for Warframe, it's basically Destiny loot-chute.

You cannot buy any items of power in PoE. So what's your point? It's basically Diablo yes, but Diablo costs money. PoE is absolutely free and the only things you can buy are cosmetics and some additional character and item space. It doesn't have any sort of time gated or time locked content. You can literally install it, play it forever, play as much as someone who puts $2000 into it and have the very same play experience. Same with CS:GO. Same with Dota. Same with TF2.

So whats your point again?

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#24 Posted by acharlie1377 (130 posts) -

@eurobum:I think the issue a lot of people are having is that you're not making a very distinct argument. You're criticizing free-to-play games and MMOs because of their "addictive" nature, but the things you mentioned aren't limited to F2P games. You mentioned Diablo earlier, but what about Call of Duty, Destiny, Borderlands, Skyrim, Dragon Quest, Rocket League, Dragonball Fighterz, God of War, or Marvel's Spider-Man? All of these games have either a) loot mechanics, b) blind boxes, or c) both, but all of these games cost money, and most of them don't ask for any monetary investment beyond the price of purchase. And that doesn't even begin to mention high-score games like Tetris, Lumines, Money Puzzle Exchanger, and pretty much every shoot-em-up in existence. Are you willing to argue all of these games are harmful and addictive? If you are, what's your idea of a good, benign game?

Maybe your argument isn't that these games are addictive, it's that they're addictive AND they require more and more money to fuel that addiction. If that is your argument, then there are numerous people, myself included, who have played one or more free-to-play games, enjoyed them as much as other full-price games, spent exactly zero dollars on the entire experience, and never felt pressured to spend money.

If you're going to make an argument as sweeping, dismissive, and controversial as "There is No Such Thing as a Good Free-to-Play. Full Stop.", you better be sure that you can argue every aspect of your point. Dismissing something like Dota because it "skews toward loot-boxes" needs to be accompanied by an argument as to why that's unacceptable in a free-to-play game, but okay in a paid game like Rocket League, or an argument as to why cosmetic loot-boxes are unacceptable. Dismissing something like Warframe because it's a "loot-chute" needs to be accompanied by an argument as to why that's unacceptable in a free-to-play game, but okay in a paid game like Borderlands, or an argument as to why loot games are unacceptable. Your only argument so far is "F2P games are bad, and I have to suffer the curse of knowing more than everyone else." An unconvincing argument, and a very condescending attitude to have on top of that.

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#25 Posted by ajamafalous (13817 posts) -

lol

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#26 Posted by BigSocrates (1966 posts) -

@acharlie1377: Since you mentioned shoot-em-ups it's worth noting that during that genre's heyday it required 25 cents or 50 cents to continue, and the games were called "quarter munchers" in a nod to how expensive and unfair they could be. There were differences, of course, including that you had to go to a physical arcade machine and couldn't just spend money during a car ride or while lying in bed, and the games had an ending you could see if you pumped in enough cash so they weren't limitless money sinks, but there were 100 yen coin shortages in Japan caused by arcade game popularity, and if you wanted to get good at a shoot-em-up or even worse a 2 person fighting game you would often have to spend a LOT of cash.

I think most free to play games are bad, both as games and business practices, but I don't think it's inherent to the cost structure. It's just that they have bad and exploitative game design, and no cap on how much you can spend.

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#27 Posted by acharlie1377 (130 posts) -

@bigsocrates: Fair point; I was referring more to modern implementations of the genre, like Black Bird, Graceful Explosion Machine, and all the Neo Geo Arcade Archive stuff. I think the OP has a similar aversion to arcade games, and I'm not knowledgable enough of that genre to argue anything about it.

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#28 Posted by BigSocrates (1966 posts) -

@acharlie1377: OP did say they didn't like Arcade games, but to argue that there are no good Arcade games is...well...

You're basically saying you don't like the origins of video games. You're dunking on everything from Pac-Man to Street Fighter II.

I am old enough to remember when the arcade scene was vibrant, and even abck then I preferred home games to arcade, but you can't call yourself a video game fan and say there are no good arcade games.

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#29 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

@efesell said:

Oh no I remember you now.

You exploded into a topic vaguely about MMOs with the most baffling 'MMOs killed my dog' attitude I'd ever seen and tried to convince everyone we lied to ourselves about enjoying them..

I thought you were a troll and now this is just somewhat concerning.

Also quickly realized this. I'll straight up say I never want to deal with a f2p system ever again. I will, but I hate them. Always and forever. Even "cosmetic only" ones eventually piss me off. Those games prey on "whales" knowingly a lot of the time and spend money and research ways to get you to spend more because you feel a need to, not want; atleast to a certain type of person. And that shit is spreading to non f2p games. Been watching a ffxiv player's twitter for nice art, and they are constantly spending money to remake their character and buy the latest mounts. Fallout 76 was a full price game with a burgeoning cash shop for housing items.

And yet while the systems are garbage for most games and predatory and I could go on and on, a decent amount of those games can be good or great. I want to play warframe; I won't because it's f2p and super time gatey and I don't want to make the time for it. I wanna play for like...20-100 hours, not a thousand, oh well to me. I hate the system, but I don't hate all of these games, so if you can thread the needle properly, you can get out relatively unharmed with some fun.

Chill with that attitude thinking you've "got it figured out" because otherwise why bother discussing? You already think you're above everyone anyway.

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#30 Posted by Uppercaseccc (247 posts) -

This is where I had to stop reading your argument "Prioritizing gaming and fake online acquaintances over a social life" This is incredibly dismissive of online relationships, I have made plenty of friends online and for the most part I have never met these people but I do know them and would call them friends. also, there are plenty of people who are more comfortable online that in real life (hi hello) to dismiss online friendships as not having a social life tells me you really are behind the times of people socialize and work now

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#31 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2066 posts) -

Hey guys, before you decide to play any game ever again, hit this person up and ask them if you should or not first.

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#32 Posted by Rigas (833 posts) -

Broad Generalisations are always 100% correct in all possible scenarios.

This is where I had to stop reading your argument "Prioritizing gaming and fake online acquaintances over a social life" This is incredibly dismissive of online relationships, I have made plenty of friends online and for the most part I have never met these people but I do know them and would call them friends. also, there are plenty of people who are more comfortable online that in real life (hi hello) to dismiss online friendships as not having a social life tells me you really are behind the times of people socialize and work now

My best relationships are with people who I originally met online. I originally met my wife while playing Everquest 2. That was 13 years ago. I know that wasn't a Free to Play at the time, but its another board generalisation they are making that completely backwards.

That's a very cynical outlook on things. It can be mapped onto anything not just Free to Play games. Yes, there are some very shady practices that are designed to prey on the vulnerable, they do the same things in Casinos, on lottery tickets, and infinite other things. Thinking its just Free to play games that do is misguided and delusional. Games like anything else are amazing but can also be dangerous. but doesn't make it inherently evil or bad. A hammer can do great good but also great bad.

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#33 Posted by Pezen (2381 posts) -

How come it's stupid to turn off a movie when it starts to drag but the only way to win is not to play an MMO? I feel like you're attributing different values of personal time here in regards to different forms of entertainment. I used to watch a shit film all the way through, but my time is more valuable than doing that. If a film is shit at some point, there's no promise of it improving significantly. It may, but why waste the time? There's certainly some truth to the mechanics in certain titles to award bread crumbs worth of progress to keep a player engaged which may lead to problems for people with addictive personalities. But at some point we need to hold ourselves accountable for the agency we have over our own lives. For example, I am pretty aware that I could easily develop a gambling problem, so on the casinos I have played at I always put weekly/monthly spending limits. I tried MMOs back in the day, but the math of time and money invested to entertainment gained never seemed reasonable, so I quit MMOs whole cloth. Free to play games require only my time and my time's worth varies depending on my situation. If I have 20 minutes to kill waiting on something outside of my home, a free to play mobile game's entertainment is often just enough engagement and commitment I feel like wasting that time on. I could read something constructive but that also depends on my levels of focus and care at that point.

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#34 Edited by soulcake (2789 posts) -

Hmm this post, first argument "Virtual items are simply objectively worthless" you could say the same thing about money, as it's just a bunch of digits on a database. Second thing and this is more of a political point sure you could ban cars cause you could kill a bunch of people with them, ( i am thinking about terror attacks in nice france etc.) but doesn't mean you have to ban every vehicle. This reads like a weird manifesto some American politician made in the 90's "The Videogamez are ruining are youth!"

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#35 Posted by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@mike:

Thanks for chiming in. I know you read and skim through many posts. I have already explained (#13) why I chose a formal fallacy for the title. As far as you other reply.

Here is the thing it seems like you might be completely missing. Some people enjoy that type of experience. They like to grind away and earn things in games that take inordinate amounts of time - they find it fun, and playing F2P games for free or nearly free is part of the experience for them. It's completely fine if you don't enjoy that type of game, but try to see these things from others' perspectives.

I'm not quite sure what you are saying. Addiction does imply that someone really enjoys and likes something. This enjoyment may not ever stop. Sometimes people get tired of the lifestyle, other times they chase it from one game to the next. Is it fine for some to "enjoy" an addiction, or remain in denial about it? Hardly. In any case it helps to understand, that an unhealthy amount of enjoyment always brings with it an interference with priorities, it also betrays an ill, perfidious intent on the part of the devs. I would never wish any addiction on anyone. Sid Meier for instance probably got a lot shit for his making light of the "one more turn"-syndrome when people play Civ, I've heard him openly question on a podcast, whether it is a good thing. This, not entirely candid, but somewhat critical doublespeak is the state of the industry today.

There must exist plenty of people and I've met some, who don't care much about loot boxes or progression for whatever reason, or they have their priorities straight and can put down a game after an hour. But even they should be open to talk about the risks. My point is that this dark side should more negatively affect perception, discussion and review scores. I think the attitude of "live and let live" is too trite to deal with the kind of finely tuned and highly polished trap exploitative practices present, I'd prefer a community in which people act like "If you see something, say something."

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#39 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1343 posts) -

@eurobum: You are basing your arguments on the idea that someone who plays and enjoys an MMO or free-to-play game is addicted. You seem weirdly unable to accept the fact that people can and do play these games because they legitimately enjoy them without being addicted to them. Not everyone who enjoys the loot or level grinding is addicted to the it.

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#40 Posted by cmblasko (2940 posts) -

Pokemon GO is a Very Good free-to-play game.

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#41 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2066 posts) -
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#43 Posted by Eurobum (487 posts) -

@onemanarmyy:Your take is spot on especially in regards to endlessness. I forgot, the real progression of skill can be just as addictive as artificial XP, unlocks and collection progression which emulate it. From your recalling of history from the industry's perspective: it is crucial to realize, that these games aren't free out of the kindness of Icefrog's heart, but because they need bodies (MAUs) and they need newbies. The industry has recognized how it can turn participation and mind-share into green. A self enhancing feedback loop of tournaments that create publicity, which creates item sales, which finance tournaments. Even more important to realize that in turn nobody needs Dota 2, HoN or LoL. No game becomes the national pastime. All games eventually peak and decline, it seems. Players are well advised to divest themselves early.

Pretty sure F2P came about as an alternative (open ended) long tail payment model for MMOs. Free-to-play did not invent addiction or the MOBA, it evolved and optimized a way to monetize, grow and spread a mental disorder along with their game even to people not willing to spend a single dime. I suspect that not paying for F2P is even more dangerous, because of the erroneous impression that you outsmart the game by avoiding payment, while still being exposed to the much bigger risk.

No Caption Provided

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#44 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -
@eurobum said:

I suspect that not paying for F2P is even more dangerous, because of the erroneous impression that you outsmart the game by avoiding payment, while still being exposed to the much bigger risk.

I imagine you have the erroneous impression you've outsmarted the system too.

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#45 Edited by Efesell (4510 posts) -

That last line is some intense Galaxy Brain level horseshit god damn.

People who don't seem to fall into my described scenario...? Why... I'm scared for them the most.

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#46 Edited by FrodoBaggins (2066 posts) -

@vortextk: he's outsmarted everybody in this thread! Lol

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#48 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4411 posts) -

The notion that there are games out there that intentionally push all kinds of psychological buttons to make you stick to a game & buy stuff for it is pretty obvious & well known by now. One look at the comment section during one of those 'Jeff unpacks his The International cardpacks' video's showcases that. People are not blind to the spinning wheels, the shiny outfits, the 'reveal outcome' sounds, the dickmeasuring contest of battlepass levels, leaderboards et cetera et cetera. But the idea that therefore the players are guaranteed suckered in by those systems and are addicted to them instead of actually enjoying the game is what i disagree on. Yes, it's an avenue for people to possibly get addicted. Yes, more pushback against the more insidious psychological tricks that gamedevs employ to target those that are prone to it would be welcomed. Especially when your core audience contains a sizeable amount of kids. But at the end of the day, these systems being in place there doesn't mean that the actual gamepart has no value to it. There are just too many stories out there about people getting together to slay this big dragon together, and developing friendships & healthy marriages with eachother for that to be the case. Or people watching & discussing the actual gameparts of these games with eachother without any chance of engaging with these psychological progression systems themselves. That wouldn't happen if these games itself weren't fun on it's own merit. You don't see slotmachines or pachinko gathering a sizeable audience over at twitch in the way that many of the worthwhile f2p games do.

People can feel compelled to spend way too much time on movies, books, sports, work, or going to the gym to the point where relations deteriorate and real-life issues get set aside. Even the one and done type of games can lead to real life issues where you just keep seeking out new stories to explore instead of joining that family gathering. Why would i prepare for work by going to bed early, when the story is about to reveal who the ultimate evil is? I better see this thing through. Or the whole concept of speedrunning, where you're basically bolting on performance metrics and turning every game into a repeatable run with an aim to get better and better, which could be a possible pathway to addiction as well.

You might be compelled to spend just as much time becoming a god at Dota as you can be compelled to spend time on becoming a chess grandmaster or an Olympic swimmer. The thing is that most rational people eventually reach a point where they allocate a reasonable space for that in their lives or reach a point where they feel satisfied and move on. It's just that there will always be people out there that get hooked in a way that others wouldn't. The more systems that are in place to create these happy feelings for a player, the more people will fall victim to that. But that doesn't mean that it's fair to straight up dismiss all these games as bad games. You just don't want to discover the value of them because of these systems in place and rather spend your time with more completable games where you don't have to look past these systems to see the value of the game. Well apart from traditional storytelling mechanics to keep you clinged to the seat & see a story through. And any gameplay mechanics that make the game feel good to play & gives you new skills and goals to look out for if you play it long enough. And that's fine, we all make these choices for ourselves. Like i don't smoke cigarettes because i don't want to risk finding out that i can get addicted to them and spend way too much money & health on it. Others like to have a cigarette with their friends at the end of a long night and feel like that's where they draw the line. In the same way some people might draw their line at a leaderboard score game like Geometry wars, games with progression mechanics in them or refusing to hunt for platinum trophies.

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#49 Posted by geirr (3766 posts) -

"..I'm annoyed by the insidious marketing spin that has entered the duder vernacular
with words like "cosmetics", as if somehow burly heteros were buying lipstick."

I couldn't get further than this.

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#50 Posted by Onemanarmyy (4411 posts) -

@geirr: hey for a dog you made it pretty far :)