Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kettle, Pot, nice to meet you

First day of the Austin Game Conference and the gloves are off. In the session titled MMOG rant, an experienced group of industry movers and shakers sound off on their pet peeves. One particular rant has relevance (if you've been following this blog and know who I consult for). that won't juice the customer base for every last dollar. As an example of that last bit, Jennings [designer for NCSoft] brought up a new project by Dave Perry and Acclaim that will include in-game classified ads on the screen. They can be turned off, but players won't level up as quickly if they choose to play without them, a point that drew a chorus of boos from the assembled audience. He also suggested facetiously embracing a "wonderland of consumerism," with Coca-Cola-sponsored magic swords, Kobalds corpses that hold Skittles, and a Jet Blue dragon to fly players around.

"When you totally disrespect your consumers like that, I can assure you of one thing: Your project will fail," Jennings said. "And deservedly so."
Hmm, let's see here. NCSoft. You mean the same NCSoft that also runs in-game ads in Auto Assault? The main difference here? Unlike Acclaim, they charge retail for their games and then show you ads. Now I haven't played AA but perhaps charging for a game and then showing ads is disrespectful too. Perhaps that's why it failed.

The Acclaim ad system may not be for everyone but at least those that decide to play haven't shelled out their own money before realizing it's a horrible experience. That, my friend, is disrespect.

via GameSpot & Amber


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that even though Scott can't really come right out and say it, he would agree with you 100%. In fact, it might even be his own subversive way of letting his employer know what he thinks of the Auto Assault system.

I do like the way Acclaim's in-game advertising works, at least on BOTS. If I understand correctly, it's free to play, funded through in-game advertising. It's not the game for me (as I ranted), but I do appreciate that Acclaim is up-front about it. On the other hand, I'm completely apalled at Dave Perry's proposed system. It's bad for players, and bad for the industry.

Ken said...

The tricky part of all this is how to provide the content with ads and still allow players to have a choice in the matter. One option is to allow players to buy out the ads and then it turns into a retail product. That is probably more favorable for those that don't want the economics of the matter affect actual gameplay.

The proposed system attempts to take paying for the game completely out of it. For what it's worth, it's definitely innovative. I also don't think it's as bad as it seems at first glance.

It's not black and white. I can forsee players switching back and forth. Sometimes they'll want to see the ads and sometimes not. I don't think everyone will be one or the other. This alleviates some of the "unfairness" concern. Still feels yucky, I know, but it's different and sometimes different is yucky at first.

What concerns me is not this application of it but rather the application in other games, namely retail games.