News: Biocash on Monetising Gamers

Bioware: Gamers Want To Spend Money; Online Passes = Premium Service

It was only at the start of this console generation...

Does anyone even remember when Bioware was a universally loved RPG studio?

Electronic Bioturds has this week chosen GDC as the venue to once again confirm that gamers are actually happier when given the privileged option of spending even more money on their newest games from launch day. Snivelling rascal, Fernando Melo, has made the claim that “Fans do want more content. From the moment the game launches. They tend to say ‘I want it now!’ So it needs to be there when it’s ready. They choose when to pick it up, day one or later.”

It is hardly surprising that gamers would want access to the rest of their game when they begin playing a new full-priced title, yet it stretches credulity to suggest that selling access to a portion of culled game data really constitutes providing customers with more content. Nonetheless, Melo considers gated game data to be a very important facet of the end user experience, with a whopping eleven percent of all Mass Effect 3 DLC revenue coming from the sale of Online Passes – selling users the content that they already own. He laughably compares Bioware’s gating of disc content to free-to-play services (which are nominally free), in spite of the fact that he is peddling paid-up-front software. “An analogue [to the Online Pass] is free-to-play games, or games with a premium layer of service.” An Online Pass could be seen similarly as an “out-of-the-box premium service.”

Despite all these mechanisms being set in place, it would seem that a premium up-front price-tag and excessive DLC alone are not sufficient to sustain Bioware, which is why microtransactions form a very important third prong of their gaming strategy. Apparently microtransactions are the true key to player happiness, granting them the agency to play their games in whatever fashion their bank balance affords them “If you have five DLC packs at $10 each, you can only ever earn a total of $50 [a state of affairs which hinders the 'potential for more' player spending, and denies them the additional 'choice' of spending more money on an already full-priced game]. Gamers are actually happier, as they are able to spend money when they want. People may not want to pay upfront. They may be happier to pay when they are ‘in the moment’.”

All this talk of player “happiness” sounds rather a lot like a company’s attempt to first create a problem, and then sell the solution to that problem at a ridiculous mark-up, all while claiming that they are improving the lives of their consumers. It is highly doubtful that players are really happier to have to spend money like this, rather Bioware has been creating software which cannot be properly experienced without the user making substantial additional purchases up front. What a wonderful company.

Mass Effect 3 Held the Interest of Fewer Players Than Its Predecessor

Profit is not a right or an entitlement; success must be earned eventually.

Watch consumers disengage in real time!

In a completely unrelated Bioware story, online development director (and wretched bag of scrotums), Fernando Melo, has revealed that a significantly lower percentage of Mass Effect 3 players bothered to finish the campaign than did their Mass Effect 2 counterparts – they must not have bought the game completion DLC.

The original Mass Effect saw a 40 percent completion rate, Mass Effect 2 was then able to build upon this foundation to see a 56 percent completion rate, before Mass Effect 3 came crashing back down to baseline with a 42 percent completion rate. To put that in slightly more current terms, 1 percent more Mass Effect 3 players bothered to see the adventure to its conclusion than did Dragon Age 2 users, a game which was widely held to play like a haygrillian lament.

Ultimately, this sort of result was to be expected. The extent to which Mass Effect 3‘s ending was a dismal failure was known within a day of release – whereupon most everyone viewed it on YouTube. Moreover, three game instalments (plus spin-offs) is a hell of a long duration to sustain player attention when the property in question is as turgid as the Mass Effect franchise. It is true that eventually Bioware did put out an ending patch which was said to remedy the nonsensical binary of Mass Effect 3‘s red, blue, and green ending, but it was probably far too late to rekindle much in the way of player interest (if it even did as claimed).

What will be interesting to see is whether Bioware’s bottom line is ever made to suffer due to the consecutive failures presented by Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3, as both are widely held to have trampled upon the goodwill of the Bioware community. Mass Effect 3 was widely viewed as the game that would provide redress for the transgressions of Dragon Age 2, but that clearly did not happen, so it is anyone’s guess how this will factor into consumer confidence. One has to question whether this is really the opportune moment for Bioware to be aggressively monetising their customers.

Hyrule Historia Knocks Fifty Shades of Grey from Its Faecal Throne

Because boning up on the origins of Tingle is markedly less Gay.

Says it all, really.

This week Fifty Shades of Grey was knocked from its faecal throne atop the Amazon Best Sellers list – and the book to achieve this great feat was not even scatter-brained femme porn! The book in question was the Hyrule Historia, a compendium of Zelda lore and art, the pre-orders of which has pushed E.L. James’ weak minded mush from its perch at the #1 position on Amazon. As if being a fantastic collector’s item was not enough, this gloriously colourful book has managed to do what well-written literature could not!

The book itself is not set to release into English speaking territories until 2013, though the hard-cover Japanese version is available currently at a much inflated price. The book promises to act as the hardcore Zelda fan’s go-to resource for game lore and secrets. The tome also promises to resolve the history of all the various Zelda timelines, which is an absolute nonsense given that the bulk of Zelda games were not designed to fit with one another chronologically – just because a Nintendo suit is able to retcon some tenuous relationships between prior events, does not make it anything more cannon than grasping fanfiction, even if Miyamoto supports this reinterpretation of the series. At any rate, the Hyrule Historia looks to be a wonderful bit of memorabilia for anyone with even a passing interest in the Zelda series or Nintendo history, and thus one hopes that it is able to reign at its #1 position on Amazon for many months to come.

9 Comments

  1. evilpaul
    Posted 2012.08.19 at 14:35 | Permalink

    I finished Mass Effect 3 back with the original ending which, being generous, I’d give a 2/10. If you count the final sequence where upon you meet Marauder Shields it was about twenty minutes long.

    The first five minutes were quite possibly the most awesome thing I’ve ever experienced in a video game. That’s where most of the 2 comes from.

    The next five minutes were disjointed and confusing. What you see happening it’s what you hear happening. It was weird and confusing.

    The third five minutes are visually pretty cool, but have the previous one’s problems, plus there’s people in places with no explanation how they could be there. I did get to do something I’d wanted to do going into ME3 though, so that was satisfying. There was also a simultaneously heartwarming, yet gut-wrenching moment. So that’s where the other 1 in the 2 came from.

    The fourth five minutes where like stepping off the curb into the street looking to your side as you’re flattened by a bus. Completely out of nowhere. I had no idea what happened or what the fuck was going on. It was so jarring and disorienting that I picked the Blue Ending rather than the Red Ending which I had intended. Later, having watched a number of videos on Youtube about why the Technicolor Endings were so godawful, I realized something that I found profoundly funny. Every single one of them that showed the last five minutes of their playthrough did the exact same thing: Shot the Deus Ex Machina character in the face. Later, when I replayed the final missions to see the new Extended Cut DLC, I nearly peed myself when I found out that Bioware made that result in a new ending.

    With the new ending I’d say ME3’s ending is an 8/10. It’s still not perfect, there’s a few things I don’t like about it, but why people are where they are, what they’re doing, etc is explained. The first five minutes of the ending, which were the best part are more cinematic and emotionally moving. The what you’re seeing not matching what you’re hearing (and Bioware not knowing “decimated” and “annihilated” aren’t synonyms, apparently) is still there, unfortunately. But with added context it’s at least sort of forgivable. And, finally, the stuff after the “Pick Your Favorite Color” thing actually makes a bit of sense. There’s also a slideshow sort of thing to let you see how your decisions affected the outcome and what happened to your squad.

    I hated the fuck out of the original ending, but I think they did succeed in fixing it. But the original ending was so bad that I can understand if people still won’t accept or like the new one.

  2. evilpaul
    Posted 2012.08.19 at 14:36 | Permalink

    The third paragraph should read “is not what you hear happening.” I fail @English forever. :(

  3. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.19 at 14:58 | Permalink

    Yes, Bioware is shit.

  4. Epy
    Posted 2012.08.19 at 20:32 | Permalink

    Cool, thanks for reminding me to pre-order Hyrule Historia.

  5. Epy
    Posted 2012.08.19 at 20:38 | Permalink

    Hey, its 20 bucks. Awesome.

  6. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.08.20 at 00:28 | Permalink

    Hyrule Historia is something I’d like to see, but have no interest in buying.

    Pics please!

  7. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.20 at 14:11 | Permalink

    Haven’t read the news article itself yet, but I did buy the Zelda book too. If I get a chance to get pix, maybe I’ll do it…somehow. I used to work at a place that had a high quality color scanner…but not no more. :[

  8. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.20 at 15:33 | Permalink

    This might provide a bit of a starting point. http://www.hyrulehistoria.com/complete-history/

  9. Deimosion
    Posted 2012.08.22 at 00:25 | Permalink

    Hyrule Historia is a cool idea but the whole Zelda timeline thing is just something I do not give a damn about.