Friday, December 21, 2012

On cartels

I'm tired of being overly cynical in this blog, but when Star Wars names its expansion "Rise of the Cartel Coins" or something like that I have to wonder if they're just trolling us now.

Just playing the game I get the overwhelming feeling that they are deliberately trying to make free players feel as bad as possible. Because I know when I play a game for free the only thing stopping me from wanting to spend money on it is the lack of the game guilting me into doing so, or perhaps not doing enough to punish me for playing for free.

Weird business models have always existed. A fancy restaurant will charge more for its food and drink, when what you're really buying is the location and the service. A contractor may offer you a free quotation in the hope of winning further business. Even in the simple transaction of paying a set amount for a physical product, you are usually paying for the advertising that informed you that the product existed in the first place.

Free game demos were very popular for a couple of decades, until publishers realised that they were actually discouraging people from buying bad games.

I guess it's going to be like this for a while now, as companies try to figure out what people are willing to pay for that isn't the game itself. To be honest I really don't like this direction. No matter what the business model, someone is paying for the game, the only difference "Free" makes is how obfuscated the payment process is. Trying a game and then deciding it's worth paying for is a great concept, but these days it all seems very duplicitous.

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