Concearned about monetization

Sep 4, 2018
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#1
I backed the game a while back because of Mark Kern but had written it off as a PvP session based game, which I don't hate but isn't really my thing. I just finally got around to looking into the details, and I like where it's really going a lot more. With that said, I have a huge concern over the monetization, particularly 'convenience' items. Without getting into a debate over semantics of 'P2W' and it's ever changing definition to not include whatever game is being defended, let's just say it's a matter of principle for me. I've heard rumors of F2P and other 'live service tm' games that supposedly do it right (warframe for example) and every time I've looked into them I've found the rumors to be disingenuous BS, likely propagated by PR teams and paid shills.

So here is my issue. Pay for convenience often translates into skipping gameplay in some form or another, whether it be an exp boost, fast travel, or things like inventory space, or some other minor gameplay affecting feature. The issue is that it creates a perverse incentive to hamper a user's experience in order to sell convenience, creating a problem in order to sell the solution. There will always be an issue of trust.

Part of the issue is that most players will take a hardline stance against ever using a cash shop (as a defense against modern manipulative practices, though most will never admit it or are even self-aware enough to realize it), so the players who do pay have to pick up slack for the ones who don't, causing prices to inflate beyond what is reasonable. This inevitably leads to whaling as a single player willing and able to blow thousands on a game without a second thought is of far greater value than dozens of players only willing and able to blow $5-10 here and there, and why not milk both? Monetization inevitably shifts to favor whales, because voting with your wallet works and the biggest wallet get the biggest vote. Games that sell gameplay affecting items inevitably head down this path, half out of necessity (most of the players being hardened freeloaders) and half out of opportunity (how long can anyone stick to their principles and ideals when whales are eager to spend ridiculous sums, practically begging for ways to spend more? It's free easy money, and reasons not to take it dry up over time).

I get that cosmetics generally don't sell anywhere near as well as gameplay affecting items, and keeping a game running needs continual revenue, but we need a more honest and fair way to go about it. The original Guild Wars more or less pioneered the concept of a 1 time payment to play an MMO and funded their first game on expansions, so there is that to consider, not as profitable but better for the game and the customers (the incentive is based on player enjoyment rather than frustration). Then there is the currently failing and much hated subscription model.

Everyone knows subscription models don't work outside of a few exceptions anymore but everyone also ignores the elephant in the room, the reason why, the price. $15 a month translates into a $60 game every 4 months, hell $10 still translates to two $60 games a year. But then look at all the streaming services getting by at around $5-8 a month entry level subscriptions and there's the sweetspot. Unfortunately the game has already promised not to do subscription so this is more or less out of the question.

On a side note, an optional sub for 'convenience' features (like the crafting material storage in ESO) is a bad idea because without substance no one will buy it and with substance there is still the same trust issues that exist with cash shop items of the same variety, the nagging thought in the back of your mind that the game is made more frustrating than it should be in order to sell the service.

Either way, for me gameplay affecting microtransactions are a deal breaker and I cannot in good conscience support the game further if that's the plan, as much as it pains me to say it.
 

Thorp

Commander
Jul 27, 2016
66
137
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California, CA
#2
I think we're all in agreement that P2W can only exist when someone wins against other players. Since Em8er will not have PvP the concern of P2W in the PvP category does not exist. On the other hand I have not seen a confirmation about PvE leaderboards. Surely if Em8er creates PvE leaderboards I would agree that PvE benefiting items would create a P2W scenario as people struggle to be #1...but I'm unsure how important PvE fame is to people.

Since Em8er is a purely PvE game I welcome monetization that does not pinch players. I do not expect Em8er to do what common f2p games do such as locking inventory space behind money walls or reducing resource gathering to a slug pace without booster packs. What I anticipate are craft speed boosters, craft exp gain boosters, miscellaneous items like additional health packs that players could craft without money. None of these items should have an impact to regular gameplay and would actually benefit players who do not have the time to play regularly. I do not expect Em8er to put up pay walls; Firefall did not have pay walls. Em8er has already said that much of their market will be cosmetics and if I'm not mistaken, when the game is successful they'll try crowd-funded expansions. All in all I do not foresee Em8er putting any pressure on players to spend money.

When done right monetization is near invisible to f2p players. The game should be fun, rewarding, and not feel like a grind to accomplish a goal. Monetization is there to provide players who can not afford the hours of play to instead invest real money to enjoy parts of the game where time otherwise restricts them from participating. For example a high school or college student may be able to put 10...20...+ Hours a week into a game and craft everything they need to do raids or whatever. On the other spectrum there are the players who work 40+ hours a week, have kids, hobbies, ect and can only put 4 hours a week. As the saying goes, "Time is money", and for people who don't have the time can spend money so they can spend more of their time participating in gameplay activities they want to spend their precious time doing. Allow players who don't have time to gather resources or craft, spend the money so they can spend their time enjoying the stuff other fortunate players spend hours of fun earning for free.
 
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Maven

Kaiju Slayer
Max Kahuna
Jul 26, 2016
205
911
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#3
A few things to note here:

1. Em-8ER will be Buy to Play.
2. Each expansion will be crowdfunded.
3. Monetization will be done via cosmetics.
4. PvE leaderboards are planned.

Grummz has mentioned conveniences in the past, but is yet to touch on what exactly these conveniences will be. That said, I feel it is far too early to be writing it off as being the traditional 'disingenious f2p monetization'.

Grummz has continually taken community opinion into consideration before implementing new systems/mechanics. And he has been more than willing to shelve systems that were not received with positivity across the board. A fine example of this is the 'Private Server' system that was discussed a while ago. While the reception wasn't completely negative, the concerns raised by the community were enough to convince him to set the plan aside for further refinement.

All through dev, Grummz has paid particular note to 'Community Reception' when deciding on what is to be done. Personally, I don't see that approach changing.

The issue with 'P2W' is that it is entirely subjective. I, as someone who works 50 odd hours a week, would be more than happy with conveniences that get me a boost on resource gain. In fact, something like that would be essential for me to keep pace with the general community, to be able to enjoy the same higher tier content they do. Can I choose to lag behind and do things at my own pace? Sure. But I choose to enjoy the game with the community. And yet this same resource booster would probably be 'broken' in the hands of someone who plays 50 hours a week. There's no two ways about it.

Monetization is not easy. Finding the perfect balance is impossible. At any given time, it will favor one side or the other. And rest assured, it is a battle developers can never win. There will be one or the other section of the community that complains about some aspect of monetization. The best the dev team can do is be open and honest about the systems implemented and ensure that they do not resort to underhanded tactics (commonly implemented in AAA games these days) in order to increase revenue.

I suggest you keep an eye on development and see how things progress before coming to a conclusion. I say this because the game is far too early in dev, and statements can be easily misconstrued/taken out of context. Speculative musings can easily be portrayed as certainities, when in the right hands. And, unfortunately, there are several individuals out there who are willing to spend time and effort in order to undermine the efforts towards the game. Such is the nature of the society that we live in.
 
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Sep 4, 2018
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#4
Seems there are some misconceptions of the term P2W, which isn't surprising as there has been a lot of effort to move the goalpost over the past several years (maybe decade?). To put it simply, it is anything that gives the player an in-game advantage or benefit. For example, buying a premium gun in a FPS arena shooter doesn't mean you will win, it's an advantage. What "win" really means in the context of P2W is accomplishing an in-game goal, whether that be leveling up, getting enough currency/resources for something you want to do, or simply knocking quests/tasks off of a list. Anything that helps you obtain a goal faster is P2W as it helps you "win" at whatever you are trying to do. It got the most flak in PvP games for obvious reasons, but it isn't the only context it exists in. It's also not the only example of egregious monetization, it simply has the strongest stigma, one that is now being applied to 'live service' because a rose by any other name.

However, if we want to avoid a debate over semantics and definitions, especially since something doesn't have to be P2W to cross the line, let's just use the new term and call it 'live service'. Regardless of what terms you used the concerns are still the same, especially the perverse incentive to make the game worse in order to monetize player frustration. Things like fast travel and inventory space won't fit most peoples definitions of P2W and yet you only need to look at the recent shitstorm with bethesda's fallout 76 to see it's still very much a problem.

P2W or not, 'convenience' creates a perverse incentive to inconvenience.
 
Likes: human#0427

Thorp

Commander
Jul 27, 2016
66
137
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California, CA
#5
I think I see what you're saying but I'm unsure.

1) concern that micro transactions incentivize the devs to make task rewards smaller to influences players to buy boosters

2) allowing players to buy boosters cheapens the success and prestige earned by non-booster players. That these boosted players are "cheating" through a fast lane.

If the above is correct I understand issue #1 that the devs could be "corrupted" with greed and make much of the game a slog. Perhaps I have rose-tinted glasses but Firefall could have done egregious monetization yet abstained. I do not foresee Em8er making any of their game mechanics purposefully painful to influence purchases.

As for #2 I can somewhat understand the position that spending money for a fast lane is like cheating; the player is making the game easier and has an advantage at achieving goals over other players. I currently can't get myself to fully agree with the concern. I will agree that allowing players to boost their damage with premium weapons or boosters is unfair (they are paying to win and perform better than other players). I will also concede that resource gathering boosters can be seen as unfair because that player is in essence spending money to craft a premium weapon (paying to spend less time risking loss therefore winning). My current stance however is leaning on Em8er's finances and my "sympathy" for players who work 40+ hour weeks. Em8er does have expenses and one way to pay for it other than cosmetics is to provide "part time" gamers with a trade; money for a more productive time-well-spent experience. Ideally only part-time players would use the service but all players have the right to avoid or use a service at their choice. It should not be a blight on any other player's experience or cheapen any player's gameplay when boosted players race to the finish. Ultimately if other players want to "cheat" then that is their choice but it will not make my journey less personally rewarding.

Em8er has the difficult task of keeping players around. Even more so keeping players that have no time to play video games from becoming bored or feeling like it will take too long to achieve the gameplay they are playing to reach.

As long as the microtransactions do not give players PvE advantages such as damage output beyond what other players can achieve or extra base building health beyond what other players can achieve then I do not truly believe people are paying to win. They are paying to reach the finish line faster but as long as they are not harming your experience they really are not winning and rather I suspect expediting the time they shelve the game because they ran out of things to do sooner.

I will admit that being in firefights with twinked players is annoying. It really feels like my character was just wasting their time while others cleaned up. During low level areas that scenario was rare however at "endgame" it's mostly expected. And yes I understand the sense of cheating that people can pay money to expedite endgame gear when the player has the time to "truly earn" the gear but...Em8er does have bills to pay. And I repeat that I do not expect Em8er to sell premium weapons. I will come across twinked characters now and then but it will not be because I was unable to earn those items.

I hope what I perceived in #1&2 was accurate and that my reasoning makes sense even if we don't agree. I am interested to hear you and others out
 
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Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
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#6
After reading this i used to at one point have much free time to play games and sometimes it was easier to just pay to get that little booster to help.

With a job and more things to do on a day to day unless its the holiday, game time was reduced so much so that i am only playing a game or 2 until Em8er is complete.

However when i get the time to play would rather play, and have to admit it does help because even free players could earn boosters if you look at warframe. They have certain events where these boosters come available for short 2 days or so and usually they cost.

Not only that lets say you are a farmer and like to sell things you can sell stuff and make ingame currency and convert so perhaps you want to buy boosters with that or save it for a skin etc

Free is still giving them options they just have to put more time as opposed to someone who has less time. Then its always worth keeping an eye on events and special deals when they are made available because even free players could take advantage of that.

In my circumstances things can change and if work goes then pay goes so for now its ok. Then there is family commitments where a game is a game and real life is well important still i love games but if your not there to play it not really great but what can you do just have to make time somewhere in a busy life.

As this is a pve game the booster say can help others as i recall when in firefall was in a little group and the booster helped the free players too if i remember right they had a % increase of xp and resource gathering because one of us in the team had the booster but not as much as the player who has the booster i think or am i dreaming i am sure that was the case in firefall.

The game is more co-operative than a pvp game and helping others for all to reach a common goal so i dont think there is going to be a pay to win because its really pay to help all win that's probably how i see it :D
 
Sep 4, 2018
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#7
Oh boy, the 'some people don't have free time' argument...

If you are paying to skip the gameplay, then why bother playing in the first place? The monster hunter devs said it best "We want people to have the experience that we've made for them rather than the option to skip the experience". Before that whole 'someone buying boosters cheapens my accomplishments' argument comes up again, I never said that (and don't have that kind of attitude anyway) nor is it relevant (no more than someone cheating or moding in a single player game, only the deranged care). The point is, are the devs making an experience players want to savor or skip?

If players have the option to 'pay to skip' then it is intentional, and an excruciating experience players want to skip is how the game is monetized. Simply put, it's a perverse incentive to make the game worse for the sake of money.

If you only have 2 hours a week to play, do you want to waste it on an excruciating experience you would rather pay to skip, or on an experience you enjoy?

Edit: Also, it's funny that warframe got brought up, because a lot of people keep saying 'it totaly does F2P right, a golden example of how a live service should be'. After all the 'muh warframe' arguments, I installed, got passed the tutorial, took a cursory look at what all you could pay for at that point then uninstalled. It's F2P garbage, and that anyone would hold it up as an example of 'F2P done right' only tells me that all F2P is garbage. The only thing it wasn't doing was lootboxes ffs...
 
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Thorp

Commander
Jul 27, 2016
66
137
33
California, CA
#8
If you are paying to skip the gameplay, then why bother playing in the first place? The monster hunter devs said it best "We want people to have the experience that we've made for them rather than the option to skip the experience". [...] The point is, are the devs making an experience players want to savor or skip?

[...]Simply put, it's a perverse incentive to make the game worse for the sake of money.
I know action speaks louder than words but the Em8er devs have repeatedly said their aim is to make every piece of gameplay wothwhile and fun. Obviously anyone could say these things and not follow through but Grummz has been saying it for forever; Firefall before the flip truly spent a lot of time listening to feedback and making corrections. I fail to see Grummz putting monetization above gameplay. I do not believe monetization will perverse gameplay.

As for making every part of the game good enough that people won't want to skip, my rebuttal is thus:

As in all games people have preferences and gravitate to the gameplay the enjoy most. Though people gravitate away from certain features it doesn't necessarily mean that feature is less fun; simply the player prefers other features. As much as I enjoyed Firefall's mining gameplay I preferred PvP and defending PvE zones from incursions. It's not that mining was less fun; I subjectively did not want to play it. Allowing me to expedite any tasks I subjectively find to be less enjoyable doesn't mean the devs did a bad job it just means I'm a choosey player and know what I want. (There's absolutely no way a World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2 could make a dungeon raid fun for me). Therefore with monetization the players who directly dislike specific gameplay can have the option of reducing the time they're required to spend in gameplay they subjectively dislike. Implementation of boosters does not directly correlate and show gameplay is being built to be objectively bad. I believe boosters more directly correlates to an agreement for allowing players to have more control over how they experience gameplay that they subjectively either love/hate/indifferent. On top of it all monetization gives an option for players to further support a buy-to-play game a means to pay upkeep costs.

Every game that runs free server service needs some manner of continuous funding. This again delves into the statement "it's impossible to make everyone happy". Obviously cosmetics are one option to pay for costs; subscription fees; boosters. The more options players have to support server costs the more likely the server will maintain steady income.

I understand the concern that monetization can insentivize the development of gameplay that is intentionally less enjoyable to push players to buy boosters. I fortunately do not foresee this to be Em8er's goal and perceive quite the opposite; Firefall's early history attests. I will not blame Em8er if they allow boosters and frankly I support whatever non perverse service that comes with the intention of keeping the servers running.

Lastly I still stand by the premise that people who do not have time to play games should have access to buying services that expedite gameplay. Building a game that is restrictive and requires long investments will deter a population of players that could otherwise pay for the upkeep of the server and also inject increased player population to the game world. I feel it's heavy handed to deny people enjoyment of a game when they're willing to invest money, real money, into a game everyone else conveniently has hours to devote. Not to say they should be given end game gear in exchange for money but for the greater good of the server's livespan, players should be able to exchange money for a subjectively more favorable investment of their time.
 
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Likes: Pandagnome
Feb 4, 2017
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#9
Warframe is one of the most "P2W" games out there. No one cares cause it's a PvE game. And it's a very popular game. Helps that anything you can buy can be gotten naturally while playing and that platinum is easy to obtain for veteran players by selling stuff. It works cause veteran players benefit greatly from new players buying that stuff.

Most people only care about P2W if it can be utilized against them.
 
Likes: Pandagnome

Pandagnome

Kaiju Slayer
Happy Kaiju
Jul 27, 2016
4,197
4,997
113
Island of Tofu
mechadrive.com
#10
I dislike somethings in warframe such as:
- Rivens,
- mods with very low drop rate
- variation of the same guns with a different skin and different buffs
- Not enough story content unless some new update is to be made for that
- The trade chat can be frustrating

What i like:
- Gameplay is nice
- weapons work well
- maps are nice
- events are nice
- customizing frame, pilot, space ship

I still like the game but there are things i wish could change too, Em8er i feel can learn from the choices of what other companies have made and also from their previous firefall too.

So Em8er is in a good position since the game is not complete much things can change and be tweaked.
I have good hopes for this game and justified by the good discussions made here and its steady progress.
 
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