Best thing written about gaming (ever?)

This is required reading. If you don’t read this start to finish right meow you will be forced to turn in your “gamer” card.

My thoughts on all of it are coming ‘soon’.

H/T to Shiolle for the link.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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28 Responses to Best thing written about gaming (ever?)

  1. theJexster says:

    As a gamer none of these games even get a second look. They are all shallow stuff that resembles the games I played in 1988. Sadly the market they are assaulting is the least game savvy, and the easiest to exploit, they barely had a chance. I’m wondering when the Governments will get involved, these games are closer to gambling than playing blackjack at a bar.

    • kalex716 says:

      However…. the mechanics that are being so masterfully exploited on the social scene are essentially somewhere inside the root of every videogame, ever made ever.

      On a completely different note, gambling is fun!

  2. Xyloxan says:

    So fucking depressingly true!
    Please someone tell me that there are viable alternatives to this devilry (or why you think this is perfectly fine and a way to go for the gaming industry).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this what EVE does with it’s skill plan?

    • kalex716 says:

      It does…

      I’ve kept accounts registered only to log into them 1 time, for 3 seconds to update some skills for months and months till i had to stop and say “really?”

  4. bhagpuss says:

    I’m not ashamed to say I read the first page, realized I didn’t clearly understand what I was reading and stopped.

    I’ve never seen or played any of these games. I don’t know what they are supposed to have to do with MMOs. To be concerned about them seems to me like an aficionado of Wagnerian opera worrying about developing trends in grime. Technically they are both part of the same art-form but practically do they have any interaction at all?

    • SynCaine says:

      I’m sure others could come up with better, more legit examples, but here is one: Instead of Paul Barnett ruining the next AAA MMO, he is instead ruining the Ultima IP in a Zynga-model ‘game’. If the Zynga-style ‘games’ never existed or took off, ‘valuable’ resources like PB would still be making the type of games we ‘really’ want.

    • Xyloxan says:

      I really recommend reading all pages/chapters (including the last one with pictures only…).

      • Professer says:

        I was too depressed to read them all. Fuck…

        makes me happy I fell out of the gaming ‘scene’ for now, MMO industry still blows too

  5. Anjin says:

    I remember this coming up last year. It hasn’t lost any of its power. As more games are designed around their revenue model, this is going to seem especially prescient. Thanks for reminding me that this exists.

  6. Jason says:

    While I’m sure it’s a good article, after two pages it comes across as a TL;DR ranty story on all the things about Zynga games and why they’re bad that we already know.

    So in other words, it’s a 750 word article stretched out to roughly 5k through the horrible use of parable.

    • Will says:

      That’s kinda true. I felt like he explained the quirks of the $1.70 mean average and the small number of paying users about 3 times.

      But the whole article is so deep I have to forgive it. It’s nice to hear things broken down by someone that knows their numbers.

  7. jaggins says:

    Thanks for linking, S. This is mostly applicable as a window into where gaming in general is heading, with Skinner box behavioral metrics driving mechanics toward maximum profits with no focus on fun.

    Games were made by gamers in the past, but the future will be full of corporate attempts at maximal profit extraction at any cost. I am thankful for devs like Notch who are still able to be creative and focus on fun in gaming with profit taking a secondary (but still important for sustainability) role.

    CCP has learned that greed isn’t always good if you are making real games. In the long term, players will dictate where the market goes. I think there are enough core gamers to at least keep new games cranking out despite the coming deluge of bad FTP exploitation attempts.

  8. Machination says:

    Mind. Blown. Thank you for exposing me to this well thought out, deeply questioning piece of writing. The research behind this is the frightening part.

    The concept of games as psychological exploitation scares the crap out of me. Zynga scares the crap out of me. Because to them, games are a free-roam pasture and players are cows to be milked until they die.

  9. Will says:

    Great link. I need to go cry a little now.

  10. Chris K. says:

    “The players will come for the cute characters, and stay for the cruel mathematics.”

    So very true… I never saw anything in those sort of “games”, but I know several people that eat all this shit up.

  11. bonedead says:

    tl;dr heres my card

  12. Trippin Ninja says:

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing this with us. It’s nice to get a peek inside the industry like this. Pretty close to how I imagined it, glad I have something to confirm my thoughts though. The length didn’t bother me at all.

  13. Rohan says:

    I find this post ironic in light of the fact that your preferred game is Eve. Eve does the same thing, just on a lesser scale, with PLEX. You have some people who play for free, and others who pay three or four times as much as a normal subscription.

    What makes the purchase of PLEX so different from the techniques used in the games described in the article? Sure, those games are more predatory, but it’s a difference of degree, not kind.

    • SynCaine says:

      If you removed PLEX, would EVE be a different game?
      If you removed the cash shop, would Farmville?

      • Azuriel says:

        EVE without PLEX still has a cash shop, and still has a $15/month subscription model. How far away is an in-house economist from an in-house psychologist?

        • SynCaine says:

          When you say ‘cash shop’, are you talking about Aurum? The thing CCP added that failed because it had zero impact on the game? That you believe is a different degree from Farmville?

          Going to pretend you did not try to compare a sub to a F2P cash shop in terms of driving design and player actions.

        • Azuriel says:

          It almost sounds as though you are suggesting that the subscription-based model has zero influence on game design. That the way skills are handled does not lead to an optimal configuration of multiple accounts (nevermind the dual-boxed gate scout, Power of 2 promotion, etc etc). Gevlon has 8 subscriptions running concurrently via PLEX, but someone somewhere is financing it. And do you not think CCP would intervene if PLEX prices crashed or skyrocketed for purely logical, in-game reasons?

          I agree with Rohan in that it is all a matter of degrees, not kind. CCP may have botched the WiS roll-out, but it isn’t going away – if anything, watch what happens to Aurum once the “F2P” Dust gets released.

        • Matt says:

          Subscription games basically parallel the ‘energy’ mechanic, you just don’t get any energy for free. But subscription games typically avoid the ‘pay to speed x up’ transactions.

  14. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    Guess I should turn in my gamer card cause that link was pretty meh. Wow, what a shocker, companies trying to make money from games.

    • Xyloxan says:

      I guess you just didn’t get it. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with companies trying to make money (and shitloads of it). The linked piece is about the methods to make money. The goal justifies the means? Not in my book.

  15. Ephemeron says:

    There are a couple of good points in there, but they are sadly buried beneath “numbers are SINISTER, psychology is EVIL” scaremongering. That article could double as a Scientology pamphlet.

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