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