Square Enix just rolled out a new online service. It’s called Core Online, and it takes a slightly different approach to offering you games through your browser.
Basically, for every minute-long ad you watch, you rack up twenty minutes of play time. You can bank an hour of play time and then watch ads. And, of course, you can buy levels or the whole game for dirt cheap. Hitman: Blood Money, the flagship, is available for $5.
I freely admit, the idea of playing a game and getting interrupted by an ad is incredibly annoying. It’s a “broadcast TV” model. So why do I hope this is the future of gaming?
#5) The Clock Is Ticking On Boxed Games
Steam is invading your living room and likely soon Android. OnLive may be struggling but cloud-based games are undeniably on the way. Sony owns Gaikai and will be using it seemingly everywhere.
Gamers tend to be technologically connected and they like digital downloads. Making discs and packaging them is expensive. Used games are a nightmare to publishers and developers alike. This is only a matter of time. The problem is that publishers and developers are also convinced you’re a thieving bastard.
#4) Way Too Many Publishers Are Convinced ‘Free-to-Play’ Is The Future
Pretty much every major publisher has admitted they find the concept of nickel-and-diming the crap out of their audiences to be totally awesome. EA’s Peter Moore has called it “the future”. Ubisoft says that the percentage of people who buy stuff in F2P games is the same as people who shell out for boxed games.
To them, it’s great: it stops piracy and it makes them just as much money. One problem, though…
#3) Most Free To Play Games Suck Due to Balance Issues
The basic problem with free-to-play is that nobody designing these games seems to realize that it’s not just an in-app transaction: It’s an actual gameplay mechanic.
Seriously. Offering your player more advanced tools is a gameplay mechanic, and you have to design a game so that it balances those who pay and gives them a good experience against those who don’t and who can also get a good experience. It’s baffling that something so blatantly obvious isn’t clear to more publishers and developers, but there you go. It’s game design as customer service, but that’s still an important thing to take care of.