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Freemium kills games

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Vorheriger: Freemium tötet Spiele[ENDE]
Eingeordnet in: Computerspiel, Weblog

"Freemium", a mixture of "free" and "premium", describes games, which are free to play, but have so called premium features, which have to be paid for. For example, one can buy a stronger weapon to finally get that boss from level 13.

It is obvious to what this approach of making money will lead: games are optimized on getting players to buy as many premium features as possible. Examples are:

  • the player can buy himself nice looking outfit. For examples it was possible in some MMORPG to buy "real" black as fabric; non-paying gamers had to play very long or go with dark gray
  • the player can buy Downloadable Content (DLC) to get new, well, content, such as new territories and quests
  • the player has to wait for certain events to happen, for example it may take four hours to repair a motor (real time) or construct a building, or he can cut it short with money
  • the player can buy himself stronger equipment, and in many games he will even need it to succeed against enemies

The first and second approaches don't interfere with a game's mechanics, the others do.

From my point of view, Freemium kills games. For why do I play games? On one part, I want to follow some kind of story, and I want to influence it for myself, if it is possible. And I want to have a certain challenge; I want to fail, to search a new approach.
For instance, I recently played a level of "Spellforce", a Real Time Strategy game. Opponents came from every side, I had no chance. But within Spellforce, opponents only send troops as soon as you have started to build your own camp. So I first explored the map and killed of those enemy camps which where small enough to kill as single character. That for one point reduced the flood of troops, but, even more important, saved me from fighting them from multiple directions. I won the map and I was delighted about my somewhat sneaky approach.
That is the essence of a video game: play, fail, play again, fail again, think about failure, try another approach, maybe fail again, to succeed eventually. Sometimes the fun comes from outfoxing the developers.

Freemium would have changed my approach entirely. After having failed several times, I would have had to think about whether it is actually possible to win the level or whether the creators designed in a way to goad me into buying new abilities. Or if it is possible, but I would have to spend hours to grind up my character.
That would have been followed by the consideration about spending a - usually small amount - of money to succeed prematurely, play more hours or ending the game altogether.

But what kind of spending my leisure time is this, if I have to do economic considerations about actually shortening my activity or making it more efficient?
I have to make economic decisions all the day, for example, if it is worth to me to spend 75 € more to have a view on the sea, whether I go to "Nordsee" (fish oriented food chain in Germany) or to the Italian restaurant, whether I buy myself a more expensive or a simpler screen and so on. Why should I do that in my leisure time as well?

That is why I think that Freemium kills games, for Freemium changes the very reasons why I play games in the first place, twists them, forces me to deal even there with money. But I want to play a game to have nothing to do with that for some time, and the only money I want to deal with is money earned in the game.

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