The gaming industry has been growing like a flame on steroids, and as it does so, it is constantly evolving. Gaming companies are spending money in the 6-digit-category, and some of them are minting an equally substantial crock of gold.
As gaming becomes bigger than ever, the game devs might be facing a major dilemma. Before we get to the topic, let’s consider a few examples.
FIFA by EA.
FIFA is not designed for those into video games, but casual sports fans who are willing to spend buck-loads of money on a redundant title that capitalizes on the naivety of millions.
Maybe I’m going too far. I don’t think that FIFA is pathetic: as long as people enjoy a game, it has served its purpose. But what I want to talk about over here is a bit different.
FIFA is regularly released every year, and regardless of it being a good game or not, there is something that even FIFA fans would agree upon.
Every year, EA releases the same game with minor tweaks and charges an equally ridiculous amount of money, with in-game purchases that players don’t realize are extravagant. It’s not a new game dammit, it’s a simple refurbish. Over time, even FIFA fans won’t be able to tell the difference between FIFA games.
What causes great pain over here is FIFA’s astonishing sales: FIFA 18, for instance, made about 3 billion freaking dollars! And that’s just one game. FIFA releases the game every year, under another title. In doing so, FIFA is making about 800 million dollars in profit every year.
Now let’s turn our focus to Witcher 3, one of the most highly acclaimed and well-loved games in the industry.
Witcher 3 was built over 3.5 dedicated years and featured some of the most enjoyable and stunning content of the time.
To add to Witcher 3’s reputation, the devs provided with expansion packs that offered more content than many stand-alone titles. The Blood and Wine pack adds up to 20 hours of content to the game, and both expansion packs were made available in a bundle for about 25 bucks.
And while Witcher 3 was financially successful, its sales figures are disappointing compared to what it offers.
You might see what I am getting at now.
Big-dollar franchises like FIFA have gotten to the top spot by minting-money in ways that degrade content, adding little value to games that they know people will buy anyways. FIFA is accepted as a premium game that simply costs a ton, regardless of its lack of quality content.
Games like Witcher 3, however, are under-rewarded for their what they offer.
It would be impossible to discuss this without talking about the most controversial and debated topics of the day: Loot Boxes and micro transactions.
Micro transactions do ruin game-progression and degrade the experience, littering the screen with dollar signs everywhere. But in many cases, they help keep games free, and that makes them tolerable.
Loot boxes, however, took this to another level. Loot boxes are designed to steal money from your wallet. They are the representation of gambling in video games. Companies like EA and Activision add millions of dollars to their revenue with these.
These are examples of practices that companies know will ruin the game, yet will make tons of money. Companies are aware of the balance between degrading commercial practices and quality, and are forced to make a choice.
And that, my friends, is the dilemma.
It’s painstaking to have to decide between superior content and pure profit. I know that most of you would say that you would choose the former. But I also know that most of you would be lying.
In the end, money is what matters. And it makes sense- how else will they continue to make games. Regardless of their personal opinions, developers have to generate capital to keep going, and to reward themselves properly for their efforts.
And this is the reason why some like EA and Activision are at the top of the ladder and the others at the other end.
There is, however, some hope. If you consider games like Red Dead Redemption 2- these are games that offer a unique and enjoyable experience while earning a well-deserved fortune.
This dilemma is bigger than we think. It’s why gaming companies that want to offer something fresh and innovative are afraid of doing so because they know it will not generate the amount of cash that the same shit they’ve been publishing forever will.
That being said, I want to clarify that the industry is in the best of health-with tons of awesome titles coming out every year. This is just a phenomenon that influences decisions made by developers and publishers.
This is a threat to potential game developers of the future. They might have to make this heart-aching choice of money over quality content.
Maybe the solution lies somewhere else. Let me provide an example.
Rainbow Six Siege was an enormous success. Rarely did it go below the top watched games on Twitch. The success of this online shooter is extremely important. It is no secret that Rainbow Six Siege has its own infrastructure of micro transactions-but there’s virtually nothing that cannot be obtained otherwise through unlocks-without spending a dime. Rainbow Six Siege is famous for putting its player’s before anything else, and yet developing an effective monetizing system.
Ubisoft had managed to maintain a good reputation while growing financially, a combination seldom found in the industry.
There is really much that other developers can learn from this business model. A perfect blend of an awesome game and a dollar-making infrastructure.
I don’t want the future of video games to be as simple money-generating software, instead of a place for developers to unleash their creativity and build awesome entertainment for their fellow gamers.