Thursday, 4 January 2018

{Old Drafts} Why Buy a Game?

{Old Drafts August 2015, as part of my "drafts Cleanup"}

I look at the Mobile Games market, they're evolving faster than other markets, because of the ease of entry, the numbers of people entering the market, the consumers and their attitudes, So its a micro cosmos market to study.

The Whole Freemium model, Get in for free, play the game for free, and either hit a brick pay-wall, pay or quit, or quicksand of skill, and you need to either master the game or pay to get back to the ease of playing, or the game is still free, but you can buy a cool hat for your character, or asking the player, Hey you've been playing for over 20 hours, you obviously like it, why don't you give something back to the creators.. 

So I look at myself, and ask: Why don't I pay for these games? I'm a games developer, I went to Uni for 3 years to study games design, and yet I can't bring myself to pay a cent for a single game so far? How am I going to understand how to get someone in the market to pay for my game, if I won't buy someone elses.. Am I such an outlier?

Back up a step, I played computer games for years, but only paid for a handful of them, in the beginning c64 games were easy to copy, then later, learning to hack a game was a skill in itself, which got me into computing, then later I found it more interesting to make games than to play them.. I actually only like to play games that in themselves are problem solving games.

In Roleplay, I couldn't afford games as a kid, so I played my own, I borrowed books from friends, read them, took notes, and returned them, didn't ever run them, let along buy them.. So how can I expect someone to fork out money for my RPG if I won't for someone elses?

Well, I have to be an outlier I guess.. I'm not a consumer, I'm a creator. So I can't use my own thoughts and feelings on being a consumer to judge the market with..

So Back to Mobile, What would it take for me to buy into a game.. and then it hit me.. Minecraft, the last game I bought, in 2009, I bought in for two reasons, A) because I thought it was going somewhere that no other game had gone, and B) because I could create something that lasted.. 

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The General Thought was: If people don't want to pay for a mobile game, why don't they, and when they do.. why do they?

The Mobile market is a micro-cosmos-market that we can study, because its a persons free time, they usually have to 'connect' to the net (or connect to people) to play, people wont just pay for anything, but after they get interested enough.. they pay for something in game.

I don't know if I'd pay for GM up front, I'd need to see the "product" and see that indeed it is better than average.. because average is free. Maybe once I'm in the game, I might consider paying, but once I'm in for free, I sorta feel like I'm in already..


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Giving it for free vs Paying for it.. I'll come back the crude version at the end..

Players aren't just the consumers, they are contributors too, so Its actually harder to ask them to pay, You don't have a one way situation, sure the GM runs 80% of whats going on, but without the players 20%, its hot air.

I compare it to teaching a language, as a tutor, often. I need the student to want to be there, want to learn, do their homework and participate. I'll prepare the lesson, which can take as much time as the lesson itself, and which sux if they don't turn up, but at the end of the day, my skills are needed for the student to learn, because they want the skills in the language.

As a GM, I need the players to want to be there, want to play, do their own form of homework (character backstory, thoughts on what they want from the game) and participate.. I'll prepare the world, the background plot, the simulated environment, sometimes twice as much time as playing.. and while yes it sucks if they don't turn up.. we just continue the next week (worst is enough players to make it work, but the critical player isn't there) My skills are needed for the the players to have the enjoyment... but and this is the crux.. but, what do they want from the RPG session, that they can't get elsewhere, or for free? There is no clear understanding in skills or experience that will help them in the future.. so they don't compare it to a lesson, instead its considered just a fun activity.. 

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I can only compare it to the mobile games environment.. hundreds of thousands of games, for free. Hundreds of hours of artists and programmers to make these games, and one in ten will earn any money, one in a hundred will break even on costs, and one in a few thousand will make some money.. Studios come, make 2-5 games, if they hit the right audience with the right ideas with the right timing, they make 1 game which pays for all their costs for the time it took to make the 2-5 games, then they are broke and out. Many Studios don't get past the 2nd game, they don't make a cent from either their first or second and they struggle to make a third and they can't afford to make it any better, because artists want money and costs and costs and down the drain they go..

Rarely a game gets audience, ideas, timing and market penetration all together, jackpot, and they either go on to make more games, 100,000 companies and one gets to survive a few more years. Its all about economics.

An Indie game, by a westerner needs 10,000 players to pay $1 (profit) to the developer to cover costs/minimal life expenses. It takes 6 months full time artist & programmer (or split between more people) to make an average mobile game. 

Indie Games, and Indie Mobile Games have more developers coming to market than consumers are picking up smart phones and joining the market. Each Indie Dev needs 10,000 new consumers to discover his product, to allow the market to break even. 

Then add in, that a Romanian Developer can survive on $250 a month, he only needs 1,500 players to cover his costs, he can make a slightly crappier game, maybe even spend 4 months making it, and he's set.. but the smart ones, spend 6 months, grab their artist and programmer friends and make a slightly better game, and takes 20,000 players from the market, so there goes 2 indie developers in the western market.

The Market shrinks, so prices shrink, 

Is the Indie RPG Market headed the same direction? will a few thousand writers make games, some getting a few hundred sales? some getting none? one in a 100,000 actually breaking into the 'big leagues'?

Is part of the problem, that more indie writers are coming to market faster than people interesting in mobile games?

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2018 Review: How does this relate to RPGs, Are more RPGs hitting the market than people willing to buy them? I know some GMs who buy everything that interests them, even if they don't have the time.

I think I read that 1400 new RPGs were released since 2015. Even if 1/12th of that match the genre you're interested in, that still means you'd need to playtest every weekend a new group, with new rules for 2 years to find out which of the 116 published games work best for the scenario you are making..

Maybe I should review all the RPGs, and provide the results as a paid product? "Comprehensive list of all RPGs til 2018.. 2020, since It'd take me two years to research and include them all.

While I never included a title, nor conclusion to this wall of text.. I think I could say that maybe people go to D&D because there is too much choice, not enough clarity.. maybe the market needs some clarity.. 
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