Friday, June 1, 2012

money vs ethics.. FIGHT!

I don't particularly like where I am living right now.  While I do get to maintain a fairly decent standard of living, there's quite a few things I could go on complaining about.  I'm certain that I will leave the second I am able to maintain a lifestyle somewhere else.  At the moment, though, it's really the only option I seem to have that allows me to keep working for myself while I build up my business independently. I hope to change these circumstances in the near future by designing, developing, and releasing a whole bunch of cool games into the market for people to download and play. Ideally, I'd like to stick to a straightforward business model of using the app store model to sell complete copies of each game, rather than the “futuristic” method of giving away part of a game and selling extra content to slap on top of the same game. Some people would have us believe that unless we give in to this model of doing business in games, that we're destined to all be not successful and left behind.

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with this notion, because “the future” is an illusion. What works for some other studios right now may work for them and work very well at that, and that's great. I think it is presumptuous to say that, because the selling-in-app model works for certain games and certain audiences, that it will work just as well for all games and all audiences, and that games that can't fit this mold shouldn't be made, or at least deserve some implied forthcoming ass-beating in the market, and audiences that don't like this model can suck it.

And just when we thought things couldn't get any more screw-the-customers-let's-make-moar-munney, along comes Diablo 3. In all fairness, I have not bought or played Diablo 3 just yet, and don't really have any plans to in the near future, so I may be a little ignorant here in just going off of what I've been hearing from other people. Some people seem to really like it, and, given that I'm still playing Skyrim for no really good reason other than “let's see what happens when I try a slightly different character”, I'd probably be in with this camp saying the game isn't all that bad. On the other hand, Skyrim does actually still let me play the game even when there's a server hiccup. I don't understand this idea of forcing people playing a single player game to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to play a game. I have to wonder if things have gone a little too far with this idea of doing this all in the name of enabling a “real money auction house” for in-game items, i.e. you paying real money to buy in-game items, in a game that you've already paid $60 for.. hello?

I'd like to think that the issue at hand is one of developers in general not innovating enough in the right areas. I'm pretty sure that I don't completely understand all of the problems in play. The issue that I have, though, is that it seems a bit dishonest and manipulative to “monetize” players' addictions –  or at least it seems moreso than selling an addictive experience and enabling players to play that to their hearts' content. While the impact on a person's life is highly debatable, I think it is pretty safe to say that there's a lot of value in an experience like that. And so coming along and tossing in a few strategically-placed mechanics that are there simply to harvest real money from those addiction.. I'd like to think it would cause people to think twice about playing the same game for hundreds of hours, but I know in my heart of hearts that it wouldn't, and they'd more than likely submissively pay up to play basically the same game they were playing ten years ago but with better graphics. I'm having some difficulty in seeing this practice as “ethical”.



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