Bigpoint CGO Criticises Big Pubs, Valve

By Jim Rossignol on September 7th, 2011 at 7:44 am.


Speaking to Edge, a CGO of bigshot F2P company Bigpoint, Philip Reisberger, has hit out at big publishers trying to get into the free-to-play arena, taking a shot at Valve as he did so: “There are millions, hundreds of millions of people willing to invest even though they aren’t obliged to. The crucial part of the design is not having to invest, but wanting to. Most people in the Bigpoint universe don’t ever pay. But if they want to pay, don’t just offer hats – offer them something that will help them.” Reisberger believes that players should be allowed to pay for a competitive advantage: “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right,” he said. “EA and Ubisoft, for example, they’re both trying, but they’re not really there yet.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by other F2P companies I’ve spoken to: they’re generally unimpressed with the efforts of more traditional firms to get into the market. Are they worried? Maybe. But I sense there’s also an element of envy there – companies like Valve and EA are using their existing reach to bring F2P options to gamers who might not previously have considered it. Not that Reisberger will be worried, Bigpoint gets 250k new signs ups every day.

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115 Comments »

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  1. qwiggalo says:

    April fools, right?

    • SamfisherAnD says:

      First he says “players should be allowed to pay for a competitive advantage”

      Then he says “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right”

      Huh what? Any kind of competitive advantage tied to IRL wealth ruins the game.

    • Gnarf says:

      Any kind of competitive advantage tied to IRL wealth ruins the game.

      Makes you wonder what’s next, eh? Games running more smoothlier only because you’ve spent more money on hardware? I won’t stand for that, not on MY platform!

    • IDtenT says:

      Gnarf, only smoother? Pffft. Try extended field of views, higher contrast ratios, increased peripheral vision or the audacity of positional sound. I will not stand for it! Hopefully it never comes to pass.

    • Chalky says:

      “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right”

      That really doesn’t make any sense.

      When people talk about ruining the game, they mean, if no matter how hard you try, you get beaten by people who have simply poured more money into the game than you have, it is no longer a game – it’s just a “who’s got the more money to throw away” competition.

      So if selling an advantage involves an advantage, then many people will consider it “ruined”.

    • gabbaell says:

      To be fair, in the original interview, what he does say makes a bit more sense. He’s talking about, instead of grinding to get a weapon, being able to pay to get that weapon quicker. It’s not something I like to see in paid for games but its maybe not so bad in F2P games.

      But then again, he does immediately go on to say that he wouldn’t monetise Team Fortress 2 because it’s not the right type of game to be an online free-to-play shooter. Which doesn’t make so much sense. Especially when he further justifies that by saying he doesn’t try to compete with FIFA at which point he completely lost me.

    • DK says:

      “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right,”
      Is Reisberger retarded? Or does he just not know what words mean? Because that sentence makes no sense. He might as well be talking about the dreadful Jabberwock.

    • Mr. Hawn says:

      @IDtenT sometimes having a tricked out rig will bring some disadvantages. Like in shooters with your new dx11 rig you will see dust, lens flares, foliage etc. Then you find yourself thinking: “I’ll hide behind that bush right there” and someone with a old frigging comp with a 4:3 display just shoots you in the head cause for him there were no smoke to obstruct visibility or bush for you to hide behind. :)

    • Balobam says:

      You heard the man, it’s only fair to make you spend money if you gain an advantage, but if that advantage gives you an advantage, the game is broken.

      I like his thinking.

    • Unaco says:

      Giving someone a competitive advantage does NOT automatically ruin a game. If it does, then the balance of the advantage and the game aren’t right. Devs should be able to give competitive advantages that don’t ruin a game.

    • IDtenT says:

      @Mr. Hawn: Haha. Yes. I seem to remember having done that before. *whistles*

    • Jarenth says:

      @Balobam: that expressed the whole thing much better than I ever could. +1.

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      Daiv says:

      I think World of Tanks has it partially pitched right. “Gold” ammunition is fairly affordable and has a slightly higher penetration. I think the main reason that is acceptable is that you can never tell when you’re being hit by premium ammo, it could just be luck. It’s just that premium ammunition users are generally more lucky than others…

    • gwathdring says:

      I don’t think it’s contradictory, even if I dislike the business model. For example, in TF2 certain weapons certainly give advantages without much of a drawback or at least players adapt to a play style in which the drawbacks to their favorite weapon perks are meaningless. Players can buy all the weapons in the game and have a greater variety of perks to try and some of the best, least-balanced perks. Other players have to wait around and find weapons at random, crafting whenever they get enough duplicates.

      In TF2, you can buy game advantage. However, you can also stumble across it if you play for long enough, get a bunch of achievements, and craft. Also the advantages are not instant-win advantages, but rather noticeable benefits that will put two equally matched players on unequal footing. I would argue that TF2 sells advantage without breaking the game–though I suppose some would argue that advantage or no advantage the game was broken by the unlock system in the first place.

      The problem then becomes how many small advantages one user can afford to buy relative to how easily it can be obtained by players. For example, if it takes well over 100 hours of gameplay to unlock most of the weapons in a game (like Battlefield 2, perhaps), but players are able to buy around the upgrade system .. you have a problem because your average player isn’t going to feel like they have a fair chance for a long, long time.

      From my perspective, it’s all about player psychology with no hard and fast rules. I know sometimes in TF2, I’ve died quicker than I expected, certain that this new weapon had effect A or B only to find out it did not. Sometimes it’s just bias sprung out of annoyance at having died in a situation I thought I DESERVED to survive, and sometimes it comes from having forgotten the negative or absent effects of unlocks that had mostly replaced the original weapons for a lot of the community–changing my understanding of the baseline kit. Recently, I remember being surprised the Tomislav doesn’t add a damage bonus–in fact, it simply doesn’t have the damage reduction that was added onto Natascha some time ago and most of the heavies I encountered until the Tomislav came out carried around Nataschas. Things like this are what really dominate a player’s opinions of fairness.

      You can balance a game perfectly, and players will find imagined unfairness in the asymmetric nature of the classes, something that constitutes the core idea of the best multiplayer games. Since no one balances their games perfectly … there are always going to be bitter unhappy players, and players will always construct their own unfounded ideas of what is and isn’t properly balanced. Most players are not analysis machines. Players don’t, and shouldn’t, necessarily play every game like an experienced technician or even critic of games. I think our ideas about fairness and balance in games come mostly from whether our expectations about appropriate play styles and game techniques match the actual outcomes of using those techniques and styles. In other words, whether the game we are playing the game we would have expected and/or designed. We resist change. It is natural. We resist other players having an advantage over us–whether purchased or earned. This is also natural.

      I don’t think there’s a way to make everyone happy with pay-for-advantage type things, but I don’t think it’s an instant game-breaker anymore than asymmetric gameplay is. In exactly the same way, it can add color, tactics, and variety to the experience. As long as the advantage is specific enough that the player still has some sort of niche role, I think maintaining balance is perfectly possible.

    • Koozer says:

      I was thinking how stupid this guy’s sentence sounded until I thought of World of Tanks too – premium ammo has the same damage as normal AP rounds but with massive penetration, meaning a higher chance to do damage. It only ever gets used in clan wars though really, as it’s something like 5p a shell on average.

      If they started selling premium tanks with massive armour, huge speed and gargantuan guns there will be a lot of annoyed players though. As it is premium tanks are at best on par with their normal equivalents, they just earn a user more money.

    • Consumatopia says:

      He’s talking about, instead of grinding to get a weapon, being able to pay to get that weapon quicker.

      Doesn’t “grinding” describe what you do in a game that’s been somewhat ruined? You’re making a portion of the game experience suck, or at least be less fun that the rest of the experience, so that people have an incentive to pay to avoid it.

  2. sd4f says:

    I get the feeling that boss is upset that valve were in the position to just let an IP go free without putting in a microtransaction system to make people more liable to part with money.

    In any case, i think, like subscription based MMO’s, the F2P model will get all these companies trying to immitate each others successes, and will probably send a few companies broke.

  3. MattM says:

    I have been playing spiral knights and I think it handles the F2P/microtransactions pretty well. You experience most or all of the game without paying but it just takes a bit longer and reduces the variety of gear you will have. If you pay about $10 a month then it seems like that is enough to get the nice perks. I don’t plan on playing forever, but that is nice too. After about a month or two I think I will feel like I have completed the game to my satisfaction and can move on. I am not the type to make endless loot runs just to get a item that allows me to make those same runs a little faster.

  4. pipman3000 says:

    I don’t think Valve has a chance against these guys, I mean just look at their catalogue!
    http://us.bigpoint.com

    • Tatourmi says:

      Oh, so THEY are the ones responsible for all these… Things. They are the B-movie industry of video games, amazing.

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      Alegis says:

      Have you seen the activity ticker to the right?

      Drakensang Online
      is played by killa-moose81

      The game is being played! By killa-moose81!
      Valve, take note so that people might play your games.

  5. sinister agent says:

    “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right,”

    If a player who buys extra stuff has an advantage, it’s not a level playing field, so it’s not balanced. Maybe I’m just being dim here, but I really don’t see how he can say that and not acknowledge this. I mean, I’d prefer that he or someone else comes up with a model that proves me wrong, but until then, I’m really not convinced.

    • Thule says:

      No, you’re right. It’s either pay 2 win or whatever you buy gives you such a tiny advantage that it’s not even worth it.

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      Screwie says:

      There is a third way – you pay for things that make the game more convenient, but don’t make you any more competitive. Extra inventory space, quick travel options, etc. Still highly desirable, but does not ruin the game for others players.

      Actually there’s a fourth way too – paying for additional content.

      Just saying, it’s not all hats and guns.

      Although the gentleman in the article above genuinely seems to believe that competitive play can be balanced with competitive purchases involved…

    • cliffski says:

      And that means the game designer is DELIBERATELY designing a game to be awkward, frustrating and inconvenient to play, so they can make money selling features that render it playable.
      Thats not why I enjoy designing games, and it’s another reason I strongly dislike F2P, and don’t even bother to try F2P games now.

    • Merus says:

      TF2’s weapon system isn’t really covered by any of these options – they’re highly advantageous if you play in a way that minimises their downsides. So it’s not quite pay2win, but it’s not an inconsequential difference either.

    • sneetch says:

      @cliffski says:
      And that means the game designer is DELIBERATELY designing a game to be awkward, frustrating and inconvenient to play, so they can make money selling features that render it playable.

      No it doesn’t, not necessarily. When designing an MMO they design it so that it takes a certain amount of time and effort to do something for many reasons (to give it a sense of value, for example, to give the player a sense of achievement and also – to put it bluntly – to take up time, to give the player something to do). Some people may wish or need to bypass that “grind” because of time constraints or because they’ve gone through it one or more times on other characters already.

      Take crafting in a random MMO for example, I can level up my blacksmith, go gather the expensive/awkward materials, go learn the recipe and craft the item and I’d enjoy that, if I had the time. However, I can buy it from the auction house for in game gold, which will take a lot less time. If I can possibly go buy it from the web site directly for real world money and keep my in game gold for other uses I’d be tempted.

      My point is that the paid for advantage can be designed to only level the playing field between those who have lots of time in the game world and those who don’t. Not pay2win so much as pay2beabletocompete. Why exclude the cash-rich time-poor people from your game? That seems foolish.

    • Unaco says:

      Yes, you’re just being dim here. If someone buys an advantage, correct, it’s not a level playing field. But, the game is not ruined, and the balance can be barely off. Balance doesn’t have to be perfectly 50/50 between every one in a game… there can be small fluctuations in this.

    • sinister agent says:

      I take your point about the effect being perhaps minor, but If something isn’t balanced, it is by definition unbalanced.

    • DrGonzo says:

      A minor advantage is still an advantage. I can accept that in a coop game or a non competitive environment. But if it is a competitive game then even a slight advantage completely spoils the entire game.

      I don’t even play CoD due to the fact they have a similar system, but instead of money you must dedicate time. If you don’t play their game enough you are punished and actually have a worse chance of doing as well as someone who does, regardless of skill.

    • imirk says:

      Pay 2 Win vs. Grind 2 Win, as long at there are not mutually exclusive rewards there is no difference to me. yes you are all being dense.

    • Baines says:

      “done the balancing right” doesn’t mean the final result is perfectly balanced, it just means getting the final result to an acceptable level.

  6. terry says:

    This makes no sense. If you tie items that are meaningful to a payment then you’re just fragmenting your playerbase. Surely this is exactly what you wish to avoid to retain interest/balance??

  7. kzrkp says:

    my first thought was “who?”

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      jezcentral says:

      I know

      And then I realised a load of people were talking abut a company I had never heard of before.

      And then I realised why he was coming out with this rubbish. Publicity-by-any-means, FTW!

    • JFS says:

      They are fucking big in Germany. They have advertisements on big TV networks during primetime. And they are the plague, for they bring nothing but microtransactional browsergames with them.

  8. Limey says:

    This is almost hilariously stupid. If you sell someone an advantage then they have an advantage. And what do we call it when people have advantages? Oh, that’s right. Unbalanced.

    • pipman3000 says:

      No you see if you do it just right it doesn’t unbalance the game because uhhh shut up and give me your credit card number

    • Symitri says:

      My thoughts exactly. That statement is terrible on so many different levels.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s an advantage in PvE, then the balancing matters less. Unless it’s a race to level up.

      But thinking about it, the only time I have coughed up money in a free game was in Blight Of The Immortals, and that was about getting a direct advantage.

      But then I care more about winning than hats, so maybe that kind of deal is aimed at me.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      The OP is clearly unemployed. If he were employed, he would have lost the ability to discern deliberately lopsided and exploitative game design. Also, people with jobs live a joyless existence where they can no longer appreciate the voyage of discovery through a well made game. The only reason they play games at all is to spawn fully formed and bristling with the games most powerful abilities, with their foot on the bleeding corpse of the end boss, or better yet, an unemployed player.

      See, people with jobs suck. Just something I’ve been hearing on the internet lately, so it must be true. Thank god I’m unemployable, so I can still enjoy games. Writing my resume in yellow crayon was one of the best decisions I ever made.

  9. Gnoupi says:

    To be honest, while I agree that I would highly dislike a game which allows people who pay to have a gameplay advantage, I don’t think it is that much of a threat.

    F2P has to live on the delicate balance of being attractive to a lot of free players, while inviting them to pay for more.
    A gear which has a gameplay advantage gives more incentive to a player to buy, for sure, than something cosmetic. But at the same time, if it really kills the game for free players, then… they’ll just stop playing it.

    If a game shows that kind of “pay2win” approach, I will personally stop playing it, and there are plenty of other things to play, so it’s ok.
    But if they manage to keep a healthy balance of new people, transforming them into buyers, with this model, I don’t see why they wouldn’t. But it is highly risky, and it will easily turn people away from the game.

    So I don’t think it’s that much of an issue. It’s just another business model, which obviously can work for some people (see Facebook games)

  10. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right”

    Just … so many things wrong with this statement. He’s implying it’s both possible to sell competitive advantage and keep all players on a level playing field. Which is a paradox. Mind unravelling.

    • IDtenT says:

      Uh, no. If you pay for extra cash or experience all you’re doing is actually skipping the grinding aspect – not make the game unbalanced. It’s perfectly acceptable practice. Those who complain can very easily get a clerk job, convert their earnings to in game cash and/or experience and progress further than those who sit and grind an entire day.

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      Harlander says:

      So they’re deliberately making the game more boring than it need be to make people want to pay to skip the boring bits?

    • IDtenT says:

      You’re saying subscription MMOs don’t do this? You’re lying to yourself.

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      Carra says:

      “So they’re deliberately making the game more boring than it need be to make people want to pay to skip the boring bits?”

      This. I never got why they add faster experience to games. If your game is fun, people should be happy to level up. The longer they level the more fun they have.

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’ve deleted a couple of comments from this thread. Just because this guy’s opinions don’t mesh with your own is no reason to tell him to go fuck himself.

    Criticism = Yes please.
    Insults = No thanks.

    Really, the only rule is “don’t be a dick”, and slinging insults around is precisely that.

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Sometimes it’s hard though, given this guys games design philosophy is about forcing players to compete with each other financially to have fun. It was my immediate reaction to want to swear at him too :D.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Our ability to hear news like this and for the vast majority of us to be able to discuss it sensibly without trolling or getting so worked up that we lose all sense of proportion is one of the many reasons this is my favourite game news site.

    • Iain_1986 says:

      @Sheng-ji

      “without getting so worked up that we lose all sense of proportion”

      Are you kidding me, this thread alone is kinda contradicting that. If he didn’t mention Valve half these comments would not be here. God knows what would have happened if he said EA were doing it right :|

      Seriously though, I get the feeling more and more that /r/gaming is just spreading into the comments section here, the RPS comments over time do feel like they are going down hill

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I believe that, even if the only publisher mentioned was Ubisoft, peoples reaction would still be the same. People are reacting to the pay to win aspect of this post, not many people are mentioning the publishers at all.

      I don’t think the comments are going downhill at all, I just think RPS has attracted a larger audience, so the chance of someone disagreeing with a particular point of view has increased. On the whole, most opinions are well voiced and made in a mature way and the debates tend not to devolve into arguments.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      can at least part of me be a dick, because I’m quite fond of that specific part.

      I think a more immediately response is “Who?” followed by “Oh, he’s scared his pond just got invaded by giant sharks”

  12. Belsameth says:

    It doesn’t have to be. That whats being sold could be simple quality of life things. Stuff that doesn’t give you a real competitive edge but make a bunch of tasks/overviews/whatever so much easier.

    Then again, I don’t feel the need to always win, so I don’t mind the P2W schemes :)

  13. negativedge says:

    All he means by this–and people are missing this because he profaned the word Valve, which is here nonsensically sacred–is that the model exploits the scale of time versus money. It is Jim that appended the modifier “competitive” to the original term “advantage,” which seems to be the problem here. If you are one of the people screaming BUT COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE MEANS UNBALANCED DURRR CANNOT COMPUTE, you would do well to investigate the meaning of quotation marks.

    If you pay, you save time; if you don’t pay, you save money. That’s the premise of the standard F2P model. What does buying a hat do in TF2? I mean, besides labeling you as a vapid idiot? It’s just a useless series of hoops and systems appended to a game that wasn’t designed around them. You aren’t saving anything–you’re just throwing money down a well. You are literally paying Valve to devalue and clutter the experience of the game you are playing; you are communicating the idea that “game” is unimportant. In the “real” F2P model, there is nothing superfluous. You may not be particularly enamored with the model (I’m not; what is free and what is not is completely arbitrary and cynical, and what is chosen usually implies that your game is, in fact, not fun enough to actually play), but it is baked in to the design of the games that support it. When you buy something that saves you time, you are buying it because it effects some aspect of the mechanical model of the game you are playing in a way that appeals to you.

    What’s funny here, of course, is that Valve does sell competitive advantage. You can buy all the guns they throw in the game–guns that wouldn’t even be there if they couldn’t get you to buy them. What fails about this particular model is that the alternative to payment–crafting the guns–is in no way related to the actual game you are ostensibly interested in playing. So you have two kinds of people that buy (or even create) guns: those interested in a competitive advantage because they enjoy the game labeled Team Fortress 2, and those that enjoy the aesthetics, collectathon whack-a-mole, and inventory management aspects of Team Hat Simulator 2. Anything you do in the service of one of these games harms the other in some way, because the only relation they have to one another at all is in Valve’s bank account.

    • MountainShouter says:

      I’m sorry to say this, but… I am confused by your statement.

      Could you provide a clearer example? Unless the first sentence was that.

    • Chuck84 says:

      “buying something that saves you time” means you’re paying to not play the game. Either there’s something wrong with the core game that’s so bad you don’t wish to play it(so then just don’t play), or there’s a tacked on artificial grind, which is just cynical design.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      He’s specifically talking about the BF3 preorder bonuses there. Read the original text and you’ll see he is talking about competitive advantage.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Am I a vapid idiot for wearing jeans from my favourite designer (George, of course) or a top with a brand on it?

      Why then would I be vapid for making my online avatar look different from everyone elses and in my eyes, cool?

      Surely the vapid idiot would be the fool who pays money to make their game last less time? It would be like paying extra in a movie to skip the boring character introductions at the start of the film and get straight to the explosions.

    • IDtenT says:

      The OP is in need of some more love. Here is my endorsement of his post. +9000 and a cookie.

      Sheng-ji… That analogy is so far off I don’t even…

      The entire idea is that the working gamer can still tag along with the basement gamer without falling behind while also actually turning a profit for the developers. If the basement gamer feels that he needs to progress faster then he can get a fucking job – a real one.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Everyone who disagrees with me is unemployed! If only they had jobs, they would be totally fine with paying for parity in exploitative game design!

    • sinister agent says:

      @IDtenT

      Oh yeah, I could quit my job and demand more money somewhere else so that I can compete in a game that’s specifically designed to be unfair!

      Or I could, y’know, just buy another, better game instead, made by people who won’t just repeat the ‘add another upgrade’ process in six months to milk another bit of cash out of the suckers. Yes, that’s right – I have money, earned by working bloody hard, and yet I object to the idea of buying a competitive advantage in games. Crazy thought, huh?

      I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s interested to hear sensible and reasoned justification for various free to play models, but yours is a very poor way of going about it. You’ve done more harm than good to your cause.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      IdenT:

      1. I’d love you to explain in great detail why my analagy wasn’t perfect (take the sarcasm and don’t actually do that) but the point remains, if a game is fun, why fast forward it, unless you are vapid and shallow and just want to tell your friends you are at the end. If it is not fun, who cares, go find one that is

      2. I’d love to see your sources that give evidence that gamers who work are more likely to pay microtransactions, because I would argue the opposite. Those of us who work hard have a keen sense of the value of money and are far less likely to pay for something that can be gotten for free. The jobless who are given their money are far more likely to squander it as they haven’t worked for it.

    • IDtenT says:

      @sinister agent: Your choice of course. I’m not saying the model doesn’t get exploited. What I am saying is that money and XP bonuses derived by real life profit need not make a game unbalanced. If you’re paying more than $10 for a month of gaming you’re paying too much, imho.

      If it’s implemented correctly and all the stuff available to those with money is also available to those without – just with extra time required – then I can see absolutely nothing wrong with the model. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s the best model, the most profitable and the one with potentially the biggest player bases.

      @Sheng-ji: 1) Do you agree that MMOs are grindfests? If so, say a player does not particularly like the grind but continues to enjoy doing quests with friends on the chances he gets to play with them, should he not then be eligible to play with them even though he spent much less time with the game?

      2) I’d disagree. If it’s easier to gain in money than it is in time, the 9-5 cubicle employee will indeed pay it – if he wants to play the game. If such a person is unwilling to do the time vs. money maths of the situation then fair to him, but the majority are at least reasonable enough. Time vs. money calculations is a huge consideration in anyone’s life.

    • sinister agent says:

      @IDtenT

      Thank you – that does clarify things. I would have to see that in action to really give it a fair hearing, however I am not personally inclined to wait around for a game to allow me to start enjoying it, nor to pay for the same, so this isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

      I also don’t think it’s constructive to divide a player base between those who work x hours and those who don’t, because in both of those groups there will be vast numbers of people who object to or support the model regardless of income or lifestyle. I just don’t think it provides a useful correlation.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Most people play MMO’s as a grindfest because they want to get to the end, or get a particular item or whatever and they calculate the best place to repeatedly do something over and over to get it. If that is not a fun activity, why do it? Find a game that is fun. Sure, I get that you want to play with your friends and I will certainly conceed that paying to do so is not at all vapid, but in most of these games, my friends would happily create a new character to play through with me at my rate so that I can enjoy all the early stuff. If that early stuff is a grind, why would the later stuff be any different? If you don’t enjoy the game, why play it?

      You are welcome to your opinion on how people value money, but Robert P Murray , University of Manitoba, Gordon E Barnes from Victoria University would certainly disagree with you. You talk of time v money, but why are you playing games? I play to entertain myself. I set aside time to have some fun and if I am enjoying a game, I don’t want it to end. So why would I want to skip ahead in it and pay to do so? If a game is not fun, why would I believe it will suddenly become fun later? Once a grind, always a grind in my experience.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Look, I don’t want to argue with you IDenT because I get it – you play games in your precious free time and you see people who seemingly play all day and night and bound ahead of you. I truly understand how infuriating this can be especially if you want to play with the people who have charged ahead of you. (Although it really should be pointed out that many of these people have reasons other than joblessness – and it was this aspect of your original post which got me worked up – for example, I am on maternity leave at the moment, but some people work 8 hours a day, sleep 8 hours a day and game 8 hours a day – not saying it’s healthy or what I would want to do, but don’t tarnish people who have more free time than you for games as lazy or any of the other daily mail crap that gets flung at some of the most vulnerable in society) I don’t want to see the option to pay to get ahead in games removed, I have never said that, but don’t make it possible to pay for something which you can’t get by putting in the time and market your game as free.

      And equally, don’t insult gamers who like to buy things to make their avatars unique, unless the price is stupid (Looking at you EVE) while not applying the same standards to those who pay to skip the game. That was the point I wanted to make.

    • IDtenT says:

      Sheng-ji, you’re right. It was unfair of me to claim that anyone who is willing to grind must be unemployed. It was an unnecessary knee-jerk hyperbole. All these people constantly shouting the “Pay2Win” bullshit was just making me ever so slightly peeved.

  14. Metonymy says:

    It hardly matters what individuals think, or even what is true. If the community decides that a game allows a richer player to have the advantage, the natural tendecy of players to think other players are ‘cheesy’ will be amplified irrecoverably.

    Preserving the illusion that skill leads to success is essential for the success of competitive games, which cater almost exclusively to young males.

  15. Turin Turambar says:

    “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right”

    What?

    How in the… what?

    Is he using a different definition of balance from the rest of the world?

    • MountainShouter says:

      Well, it seems to me that anything revolving around F2P games in general run on a completely different ruleset when it comes to “balance”.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Obviously he’s speaking in terms of the big picture. The number of wins of the much smaller group of financially elite who buy the win, is equal (balanced!) to all the wins managed by the rest of the the player base put together, who make up the vast majority of the population. This is both fair and balanced.

      Why do you hate capitalism?

    • sinister agent says:

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I once saw capitalism punch a tiny baby in the face.

  16. Sheng-ji says:

    “Bigpoint, he argues, better understands monetisation (Than EA, Valve and Ubisoft ) by virtue of it never having been in the console business”

    This is to me the choice quote from the article. This guy thinks he knows the industry inside out, better than the best (at making money) and how long exactly has he worked in it? In all honesty though, there’s a very good measure of how well he understands monetisation – profit. Has he even balanced his books yet??

  17. DarkByke says:

    wait a sec….. “advantage over others” and “balanced game”?

    how can he be serious? these obviously contradict eachother.

    I refuse to play a game if some rich kid has advantage. it’s unfair and no fun. you won’t be getting MY money sir.

  18. mr.ioes says:

    Valve does not only offer hats, but items. This guy’s statements are so wrong throughout. He is just scared or something, I don’t know. He prolly neither.

  19. Tei says:

    But how free are “Free to play'” games to be… games? I don’t see that very much. Free to play games are strictly forced to be skinner box, even more than MMO games.

    Games that are played for the adventure and games played because are abusing a biological mechanism for repetitive rewards are separated by a thin wall. But are still separated. Most F2P game break that wall and embrace the worst values of gaming. These that can destroy lives.

  20. formivore says:

    The quote sounds like a non-sequiter to me, but then I got thinking about collectible card games like Magic. In these games you are paying for advantage, but it doesn’t feel unbalanced. Maybe Magic cards are closer to the purported BF3 model where you are paying for extra options. But some cards are flat out more powerful than others.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      You know, I spent close to £1000 over the years on Magic before I realised it was pay to win and gave up on the whole thing.

      Although a big part of it is that the cards you buy are random, you can purchase one foil for £1.25 and get the best card of the series or buy tonnes of cards and never get it – I think this gambling element is a big draw too. But these days I believe you can just buy 4 of every card in the series in a box set, so even that goes at a certain price point.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I stopped playing Magic precisely because it feels unbalanced. A person with a thousand dollar deck can defeat your hundred dollar deck even if he has no clue about most of the rules.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      I dont go in for CCGs either, for precisely that reason, but I would argue that the “advantage” in CCGs is far more abstract, as you dont know specifically how or if another pack is going to benefit you. It’s more akin to gambling. This feels slightly different.

      Obviously buying a specific card from another player is another matter, but again, this is why some people don’t play CCGs, and dont want to see that same mentality proliferate in mainstream gaming in games that have traditionally rewarded player skill and dedication, rather then how willing they are to throw money away.

  21. Jimmy Z says:

    F2P might be a golden goose for the suits, but as a player I vehemently dislike it and firmly believe that it offers nothing for me. If an MMO is good enough to actually invest money in, I’d much rather just throw them the odd $15 a month to get access to all the content in the game (including the fluff, hats and whatnot) and have my jolly adventures, instead of being forced to play the Massively Multiplayer Online Shopping Minigame and constantly having to weigh whether this or that quest pack is worth the money and lament how I’d like to have that one particular hat, but I won’t sure as shit pay a pint’s worth of real money for it (obviously they always try to obfuscate things by having prices in some pingpong points instead of real money).

    As what comes to shooty games, any sort of F2P or subscription model is just a huge no-no. It’s the same sort of blatant moneygrab as most DLCs, but it offers even less to the player. Multiplayer shooty games have managed to stay afloat, nay, stay hugely popular for close to 20 years now without having to resort to any of this F2P bullshit, with players just laying down the cash for the game and then happily shooting away. Obviously, back in the olden days, the devs released dedicated server software and allowed modding, which meant that after the game was released, the fanbase kept the game alive on its own, without it costing a single shilling to the devs themselves. But no, centralised servers (if any), no modding, just shitty hats and slightly reskinned weapons as DLC packs are the future of multiplayer shooters. Makes me want to punch somebody.

    Oh well, what can I say, as long as enough people are silly enough to keep throwing their money at all this F2P bullshit, it will just become more and more prevalent, until we see the day when a shooty game is released where you have to buy every single map and weapon separately. Freedom of choice for the player, yay!

  22. Vexing Vision says:

    Funnily, the comment aimed at Valve seems to come after Steam didn’t want Bigpoint games in their portfolio.

    I know they tried.

  23. Kapitol says:

    Would I rather pay a flat fee every month and play a based on merit or play a game that’s basically like battlebots where every episode is the guy who sleeps on the stoop of the local bar vs. Bill Gates?

    Hard to say.

  24. darthmajor says:

    Considering everyone who i knew that played Battlestar Galactica Online left it because they made it utterly impossible to keep up without paying, or engage in pvp at all, yeah this guy DEFINITELY knows how to do F2P better than Valve.

    “What? Free players can compete on a level field? Everything can be unlocked in time and you can only buy convenience and pimp hats? You are doing it wrong Valve!”

  25. Heliosicle says:

    I think he’s just annoyed that the big boys have caught on, and now that they have started making better F2P mmo’s than Bigpoint’s more crappy ones they’re losing people, why would you play a crappy one if a pretty much full game was also free? I’d say that is a competitive advantage that the publishers + Valve have over Bigpoint.

  26. sirtoggle says:

    Personally I feel the F2P system is for games that suck and if it wasn’t for the fact that you can play it for free then no one would play it. Every F2P game I have ever tried were just really bad games.

    • Chuck84 says:

      That used to be the case, but World of Tanks, League of Legends, and TF2 are all great games. There are others out there(Global Agenda, Lotro) that are supposedly good too, but i haven’t played them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Keymonk says:

      I’m assuming you mean games that are designed as F2P.

    • cosmicolor says:

      I played GA and LOTRO, personally didn’t think much of GA and LOTRO gives you about a quarter of a game and various limits just tight enough to be irritating if you’re a free player.

      As for LoL I’m not a fan of its model either, especially since prices tend to be high. Almost £10 for a single character? Bugger off. I’m aware that you can buy most everything with time, but LoL in particular forces the player to choose between essential but dull stat boosts (that you can only buy with the “free” currency) and gameplay variety in new champions.

    • PAK says:

      Did you try Realm of the Mad God after all of Alec’s posts? After a week I wasn’t much interested in continuing with it, but it was a good week.

    • verinus says:

      @cosmicolor: you are all wrong about LoL. i played it for longer periods and in my optionon they are the best example how to implement F2P in a fair way. statboosts are in no way needed and do not provide a significatn bonus. automatchmaking negates all level advantages one may have over nonpaying peers.

      all gameplay relevant items may be purchased with ingame currency obtained by playing. hte idea of “buying” champions is a rather good one for several reasons:
      1. several champs are free to play. which ones change every week- everybody can try em out before buying.
      2. you focus on one champ and learn to play him thus improving gameplay for your team. nothing more frustrating than a player playing his first match with a champ in your team.

      LoL is the only f2p game i have encountered where you have no gameplay disadvantage from not investing money.investing

  27. SquareWheel says:

    “If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right”

    What the hell.

  28. trigger_rant says:

    Did they make any games I should know about?

  29. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    I’m a homeopath, and I’m angry because the guy next door has actually started selling working medication, and it’s stealing all my market :(

  30. SaVi says:

    What I can live with is saving time by paying money, i.E. XP Boosts. Otherwise, the rest of purchasables should stay vanity. Selling advantages free players can’t get, or only through rigorous means (as in BF Heroes) is just a jerkass move.
    Another model I came to like is Freemium, which is just shareware well hidden behind free content. Not that many people get it, like that silly Angry Joe with his pay2win acusations about Age of Empires Online.

  31. Toothball says:

    I think there is some merit in what he’s saying. People are quick to assume that having a monetary advantage will automatically mean having a gaming advantage. But if you were to take a rich gamer and stick them on a tennis court, with the best racket, tennis shoes and a Versace designed tennis hat, they’re probably still going to be bad a tennis. On the other hand, if they bought a tennis ball launching device, the other player might have trouble returning those shots. And the gamer would still be bad at tennis.

  32. aircool says:

    I know I seem to mention it at least once a week, but Champions Online F2P seems to have got the balance just right. As a lifetime subber, I get to access freeform builds and all sorts of graphical goodness. However, even though I get a monthy stipend of Cryptic Points to spend in the Cryptic Store (there’s also lots of stuff in the store that’s free for subscribers), I still find myself spending hard cash for some of the more interesting things on offer.

    You can play the game just fine without ever spending a penny (a real penny, not a going for a wee penny – mind you, it’s 20-50p in some places now, I’d rather wee on the street), but there’s just enough on offer to make you want to subscribe.

    And that’s how it should be done. Whilst I’m not sure about some of the items like XP boosters and the like, it’s up to the player how they wish to progress. Ultimately, you can’t buy anything that will make you overpowered (especially in PvP), but there’s a lot of things that can give you more options in game (such as the popular ‘become x’ items where you can transform into a werewolf etc…).

    Should just mention Battleforge as well. A different marketing model, but again, spending cash doesn’t make you more powerful, just increases your options laterally.

  33. LGM says:

    Behold, the horrible future of gaming!

    These “pay to win” games are what will eventually lead to another gaming market crash, IMO. These companies that want these “free to play, pay to win” games want one thing, and it’s not to give you the best gaming experience possible: They want money. MORE money. The money you pay them now and have over the years isn’t enough. They want to make 2,3,5, even 10 times more off you per game than they do now. Just look at the free Battlefield game. To unlock everything in the game with real world money it costs something like $300 (if you were to just straight up buy everything that would normally be already available in BF2). Of course, BF2 costs, what, 20 bux now, if not less?

    Free to play games make no sense and IMO are a ruse. It costs money to make a game, programmers don’t work for free, companies can’t spend a bunch of money on something and then just say “it’s free to play”. Money is what it’s all about, getting that 40 dollars more out of you than you would have spent on a regular game.

    And let’s not forget, most F2P games suck, with a few obvious exceptions. They’re low quality games (but slowly getting somewhat better) and had they been released as normal, buy then play games, they’d have been bargain bin titles if they’d even been published at all.

  34. bill says:

    Why are people unable to see that his statement makes perfect sense?

    If people have better weapons than you, does it matter if it’s because they”ve played longer or because they’ve paid more? Doesn’t make the slightest difference to you.

    It might however make a difference to the guy who has more money than free time, as he can use his money.
    Or it might make a difference to the guy with more time than money, as he doesn’t have to pay.

    Frankly I don’t know why ALL MMOs haven’t offered the ability to buy gold/experience from day one.

  35. iains says:

    Someone mind telling me, if they know, what the game is in the main picture of this article?

    Cheers.

  36. Vinraith says:

    So, to translate:

    Unbalancing the game only unbalances the game if you don’t design the game so that unbalancing the game doesn’t unbalance the game.

    Brilliant! I really hate that these people have the Drakensang license.

  37. Blain says:

    As I write this, we’re 105 posts in and no one’s got first hand experience of even one of Bigpoint’s games. 106 if you count the original post.

    It’s fine to say the man makes no sense, but many companies responsible for games we love have top people who make no sense.

    • Premium User Badge

      Buzko says:

      We’re now at 111 comments, and nobody has questioned the final sentence: 250,000 new signups a day.

      Somebody mentioned these guys are huge in Germany (or at least advertise lots there). At that rate, they’d have all ~81 million Germans in under 11 months.

      Unless Jim was being deeply sarcastic. In which case never mind.

  38. Kazang says:

    Reisberger believes that players should be allowed to pay for a competitive advantage.

    And that is why I will never play any games made by Bigpoint.

  39. DOLBYdigital says:

    What a fool… I’m glad I don’t support any of these games with a philosophy like that… I can only hope he is biting his tongue for saying that statement but if he still believes it and stands by it then, well

  40. overflow says:

    I worked at Bigpoint. The whole concept of the games is to imbalance the game for paying people so more people start paying since they want the advantage too. In some games its really unforgiving. For example you can buy your special ingame currency and buy a nice Spaceship but the second it gets destroyed you have to buy another one! You cant repair lt or something.

  41. outlive says:

    i don’t quite get why no one actually thinks about the statement he made.

    you have to define the advantage you are getting when you pay.
    balanced wrong can take away the fun for other players.

    250.000 new registrations worldwide means they are doing something right.
    at least the players think so.

    try playing a game from bigpoint – Kultan for example – the game is a lot of fun, without paying.
    http://www.kultan.com

  42. Shooop says:

    So he’s one of the people we have to blame for the “pay to win” bull so many F2P games suffer from? Thanks a bunch asshole.

    Valve is doing it right with TF2 – no one has an upper hand over another player because they paid more. You get better exclusively by playing the game, not opening your wallet more often. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

    Toothball touches on a point, that all the shiny toys don’t automatically make someone a better player. But they certainly can make a difference once the player learns the game. And it ends up making it much, much harder for novices who aren’t spending any money to get into the game.

    It’s a stupid practice and it has to stop.