Totting Up My Team Fortress 2 Transactions

By Craig Pearson on March 15th, 2012 at 9:00 pm.

If anyone wants to trade me a Strange Sniper Rifle, Flame Thrower, or Ambassador, btw...).
After looking at the cost of Guild Wars 2 and feeling a muscle in my eyeball involuntarily spasm, I started considering my spending habits. I’m currently splitting my money in three ways: indie games, Steam, and funding in Kickstarter. I don’t have any MMO subs, as I’m mainly action focused, and obviously my Steam account is already crammed with games. But none of this made me twitch. Instead it’s because as PC gamer I’ve never had to spend much on games, and in this odd, new free-to-pay future, in my eyes the cost of games feels like it’s getting cheaper. At least that’s what I thought. The one consistent expenditure I have is when I want to buy something in Team Fortress 2′s store, which saves every transaction. Going over my purchases I realise it’s not cheaper at all, and, in comparison, £50 on Guild Wars isn’t that bad.

Since Valve started adding buyables I’ve spent £44 (US$68.90) on TF2′s trinkets. That’s more than the Orange Box cost when it first came out. If you ever wonder how a game can make money, even flourish, just by selling items, then it’s that piecemeal, ‘I can afford x amount’ mentality for things that don’t matter that I didn’t realise I’d been doing. I thought I’d spent £10, tops.

Nice hat. Want!

Breaking it down, the biggest single outlay was for the Deus Ex Weapons pack, that I’ve since abandoned in favour of The Spy’s Amabassador and The Sniper’s stock rifle, and I barely play Engi so his weapons in that pack were just dead weight. I’ve bought keys for crates 11 times, and as far as I can recall I’ve only ever had one weapon out of those that I kept as a main: A Strange variant of the Scattergun: I spent £21.89 on hope.

The things I like that I bought are the name tags, but even then the knife I named “Mother” has been dropped in favour of the Strange version as well. So I’ve spent £44 and can see very little benefit from the expenditure. Meanwhile, I’m twitching at the thought of spending £50 for a full game. I’ve been devaluing games for the past year, shifting my spending to smaller and smaller chunks, but even for a game like TF2, one that I play almost every day, I’m putting money in and not getting the same value out. Not from the purchases at any rate. My time is being well spent, in that I’m having fun in the overall experience and it makes me happier to spend money now and then, but the downside is that other games are suffering: I don’t want to spend money on them because a few quid here and there seems enough when you’re on Steam. Somehow my perception of value shifted, and not only was not even aware of it, but I wasn’t getting value for what I was spending.

Also: want!

A large part of that is because I’m so hopelessly addicted to TF2, and there’s value in that in and of itself, but looking back at what I’ve spent money on and where it’s made me rethink what I’d consider paying for. Guild Wars 2 might never end up free-to-play and if it did, how much would I end up spending on it anyway? Part of me thinks I’d only spend that much on something like TF2, because it’s treated me rather well, but I’d really like to have gotten a direct feeling of value from what I’ve spent and I’m just not seeing that: I’ve had more from free drops in the game than I’ve ever had from spending money in it.

So, yeah: PC gaming is cheap, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been spending a lot of money on it. I never thought I’d spend £40+ on a game again, but I already have. If I have the money, I’m pre-purchasing Guild Wars 2.

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107 Comments »

  1. LionsPhil says:

    You bought keys? Valve took the random drops, duplicates and all, arbitrarily locked a fraction of them behind payment, and you thought “yes, that seems reasonable, let me get my credit card”?

    One born every minute, etc.

    • Strange_guy says:

      Some would argue keys are the only thing worth buying in the TF2 store, their trade value is very high for their cost. Of course that’s for trading, actually using them on crates after buying them isn’t something I’d do. I’m pretty sure the amount of drops wasn’t reduced when crates were increased so it isn’t “arbitrarily locked a fraction of them behind payment” but it is still a terrible idea, and it isn’t even like they took this extreme measure so TF2 got enough money they could heavily update it.

      • LionsPhil says:

        The short version is “you could repeatedly buy slim chances to be randomly allocated the thing you want, or you could just buy the thing you want”.

        Are you sure crates don’t use up drop instances that could have been non-crates, i.e. they aren’t effectively an obstruction around a given fraction of your random drops? By timings they certainly seem to be.

  2. LTK says:

    I hear you. I’ve never had so much game for the same euro than I do now, and two years ago I wasn’t dealing with living expenses. My past self, the person who paid €50 for a single game, seems like an idiot now. That reminds me, though; I need to check my bank balance…

  3. Dominic White says:

    The £50 price-tag on GW2 is extortionate. I’ll just have an American friend buy it in dollars for me (£38, roughly) and give me the activation key to plug into my NCSoft account.

    Really, the story here is that there’s such a price-hike on the UK version.

    As for TF2, I’ve not spent a penny beyond the original Orange Box cost. My brother plays more than me, and he hands me his unwanted gear, and I give him hats.

    • Mungrul says:

      Careful with that; keys may be tied to regions, and you may end up having to play on US servers. Sure, the original game allowed the player the freedom of choice and let you play wherever in the world you wanted to, but even that only became available after the first couple of years.

      • Dominic White says:

        GW2 isn’t a region-locked game – they’ve already confirmed that you can hop between regional servers at will to play with friends around the world, and World Vs World will pit different nations against each other. Arenanet, unlike Blizzard, seem to have figured out how to ship these fancy high-tech data packets across oceans without incurring extra cost.

        You do have a locked ‘home’ server (which you’ll represent in WvW), but apparently you can even change that for a fee. They wanted to limit players changing allegiance easily like that to avoid team-stacking.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Can you link to confirmation that GW2 will not be region locked, and that shards from different regions will be pitted against each other in WvW? I follow the game pretty closely, but I’ve never seen these items confirmed or even hinted at.

          Yes, you can change shards, and WvW will pit 3 shards against each other, but I see it as unlikely that there will be trans-ocean matchups due to latency problems with several hundred players on one map.

          Maybe I just missed the news on this one, however.

    • mondomau says:

      Yes. £50 is extortionate for a persisitent MMO that you will never have to pay for again.

      Please. So america get it a bit cheaper, it’s not like that hasn’t happened many, many tmes before. Protest by all means (it is bullshit) but get right off your high horse with NC Soft like they’re the first to do this.

      • ElectroNugget says:

        Have to agree here, 50 pounds is not a lot for an MMO that essentially becomes F2P after you’ve purchased the box. Extortion is hardly the appropriate word for the amount of game you’d get for each pound, in my opinion. As the article highlights, you can easily spend more on a game like League of Legends or TF2 with nowhere near the same value coming out of it. A single new hero in LoL is at least five pounds, ten or more if you want some skins, etc. And Guild Wars 2 is extortion at 50? Really?

      • JackShandy says:

        Didn’t games cost fifty pounds back in the 80′s? You know, back when they were made by a few guys working out of their mum’s basements, instead of by hundreds of professionals funded with billion dollar budgets?

        I can’t actually seem to find any figures, or a gamer who was alive in the 80′s to tell me.

        • bill says:

          @JackShandy.

          Cheeky beggar! *shakes stick*

          I remember paying 50 quid for Tie Fighter Collector’s Edition in HMV. And 50 quid for Hired Guns in Boots. I got Doom2 on sale in Dixons so it was only 30 quid i think. I think i payed 40-50 for Dark Forces too.

          40-50 quid was the standard price back then, and as there were very few actual dedicated games stores, the pricing and availability tended to be very random. Older games often didnt depreciate in price, and you’d find old crappy games selling for 50 quid, but might be lucky and pick them up for 20 in a sale.

        • tossrStu says:

          If memory serves, game prices jumped up when they started being released on “CD-ROM” but that wasn’t until the early 90s; in the 80s, when floppy disks still ruled the roost, PC games tended to be around the £25 mark (with the exception of flight sims and the like, which tended to be around £35).

        • jezcentral says:

          I remember paying £44.99 for Frontier: Elite 2, back in the early 90s. Played it on a 386SX 16MHz, ‘course, it were all fields round here.

    • kadeton says:

      If it makes anyone in the UK feel any better about the £50 price tag, here in Aus we’ll be paying roughly £60.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Australians have been shafted in this way for a long time.

        The major releases on Steam nowadays cost us twice what they cost Americans. US$100 for CoD, $90 for Skyrim, etc. £50 for Guild Wars 2 is still better than that.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    I’ve never spent anything on microtransactions, and to be honest I’m horrified that anyone would on such minor ethereal things – the thought of someone spending real money to get an imaginary sword/gun to get an advantage over others horrifies me. An entire game is fine, it’s a tangible form of entertainment, but a mere item that cannot be considered to be more than 0.0001% of a game’s content? I’ll pass bartering over such a small thing. At least, this is the only way I’ve seen it implemented so far, perhaps it will become more innovative in the future. However I’ll happily agree with GW2′s pricetag as long as it entirely delivers, it will have to be groundbreaking and vast.

    • Dominic White says:

      Eh, I’ve put down £15 on Tribes: Ascend, because I enjoy the game a lot, and it seemed like a fair price for the games. I just think of it as tipping – the base game is free, and I get to enjoy it whether I’m paying or not.

      F2P is like busking on an international scale.

      • HexagonalBolts says:

        I think most companies take up microtransactions with a much stronger desire for money than buskers. Perhaps a new game with an innovative use of microtransactions will prove me wrong. For example, I think games should add controversial elements with microtransactions, that way they are optional: e.g. minecraft could add an extreme difficulty pack, a pack with lots of new blocks, or a pack with complicated circuitry. I have to carefully manage how much I pay for food, let alone for something intangible like an item in a game.

        My reaction probably is a bit knee-jerk, but every time I’ve got a pre-order with bonus content or DLC or inadvertently paid for something like that, I just seem to receive some gun or tacky bit of content or something that is useless within an hour or two of playing the game. (P.S. apologies I like to edit my comments a lot)

        • dysphemism says:

          Nobody desires money more than buskers, sir. (Because they haven’t much at all, you see.)

      • Sassenach says:

        I think it really comes down to whether you are, as you say, ‘tipping’ or whether you are making impulse purchases. The former implies defining spending on the total amount spent whereas the latter defines it by how much stuff you want. Of course these aren’t discrete options and can blend into each other.

        It’s not really a problem except for things which are clearly designed to feed into the impulse buying trend. As Hexagonal says much of what F2P offers is of transient value as it becomes outdated, thus making people want to rebuy a more advanced equivalent, keeping up a steady stream of revenue. Busking by comparison doesn’t offer as much incentive for continued payments.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I can certainly understand people paying to dress-up their characters in F2P games of appropriate style. (Champions Online, I’m looking at you.) It’s not desperately different from any other vaguely decorative hobby, like painting tabletop minatures.

  5. Senthir says:

    I don’t even want to think about how much money i’ve sunk into League of Legends skins.

    I just want to feel pretty, man.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      Go on, you know you want to share.

    • MattM says:

      Whenever I think about buying lol stuff I check the prices and I get sticker shock. If I bought $50 of riot points I would only be able to get a rune page, 3 champions and 3 skins. I would like to be able to get significantly more stuff for $50. However, it’s nice that that you can still be competitive even if you are a free player.

    • Eskatos says:

      I remain proud that I’ve only ever spent $20 on League of Legends, and still gotten 10+ skins that I actually like from a. only ever spending RP on skins and b. only buying skins when they’re on sale. LoL can be quite cost efficient if you’re willing to wait a while.

  6. Keymonk says:

    You get bonus points from me for being a TF2′er too, mr. Pearson.

    Oh, also, I don’t feel bad for paying plenty of money in the store either – I also feel I got value, mind you. I don’t buy the extraordinarily expensive things, but small things in a steady stream. But I kind of feel like Valve deserves it, given TF2 is probably the only game so far that I keep returning to over and over to play.

  7. Gnoupi says:

    Makes me think about this comic: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/06/10

    On the topic, I haven’t spent a “full price” on a game since Portal 2, I think. The rest I buy on sales, or from UK sites (much better to buy for 30 gbp than 50 euros). Or I buy indie games, which are more often than not at a much lower fee.

    And I actually have difficulties thinking about spending what most publisher in a game nowadays, with the large backlog that I have, and the frequent sales. When I see the price on Diablo 3 (60 euros on Blizzard’s site), it’s actually pushing me not to buy it right away (though since it’s a Blizzard game, it’s almost guaranteed to not decrease in price for the next years).

    • MattM says:

      In 2011 i bought tons of games (many for less than a dollar as part of bundles), but only two at full price, Rage and S.P.A.Z.. I still haven’t played though rage since the release issues turned me off and the undisableable headbob gives me a headache. That game was a huge disappointment. SPAZ was pretty great though.

  8. MikoSquiz says:

    I’ve spent about £40, some on hats, most on keys. Given that I only paid a tenner for the game originally and I’ve clocked over 1500, this seems fair enough.

    Also, a quick tot-up suggests that my tradable items (not counting anything worth less than several refined metals) are worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of £250-500. Yikes. I could use new tires on my car..

    • Craig Pearson says:

      How did you find that out? I’ve been intending to look at the TF2 economy for a while.

      • Strange_guy says:

        I think there is a website that tell the value of backpacks, but I only found one which uses the item store costs. It’s interesting to find my backpack would cost £173 to recreate from the store, but not quite as interesting as how much I could actually sell it for.

        • MikoSquiz says:

          I’m not sure you can really sell anything straight up except unusual hats; however, almost anything can be traded for unusual hats eventually if you’ve enough of it. Most easily with people who trade regularly. If there aren’t people out there trading tf2 items to pay the rent I’m surprised.

      • MikoSquiz says:

        There’s a spreadsheet with the approximate value of most items in terms of other items (metal, earbuds, Bill’s Hats), and for unusuals you can poke around a forum (or two?) where they’re traded for cash to see what kind of money they pull in.

        The second crate I ever opened yielded a Texas Ten-Gallon / sunbeams, which I’ve traded on a couple of times to people who were very.. insistent. Twice initially declining because I wanted to keep the hat I had, and sticking to my “but I don’t want to trade it!” guns until they threw in unreasonable amounts of deal-sweeteners has left me with another high-value unusual in place of the one I first had, another low-value unusual, a spare Bill’s Hat, etc. And of course Max’s Head is .. possibly the most valuable non-unusual hat? I preordered the game without even knowing it came with a TF2 hat, and I ended up trading the Max’s Head for an equivalent value in rare and desirable strange weapons.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          I’m never trading my Salmon Max.

          • MikoSquiz says:

            I had no intention of trading mine away, but then I told a guy who wanted it something along the lines of “If you can get me all the Strange primary weapons, then sure, lawlz” and he got back to me the next day with all the Strange primary weapons. Oh.

        • Man Raised by Puffins says:

          Me too, little buddy.

      • Eukatheude says:

        Your best bet is asking on spuf, since the trade values are constantly changing. However don’t expect to be able to sell everything easily.

    • Earl Grey says:

      Think that’s bad? According to the ‘Spirit of Giving’ badge on TF2 I have given out 516 gifts since the inception of the Mann co store. That’s the equivalent of £320 or there abouts…

      On the one hand I get that warm feeling of being a generous soul. On the other I feel bloody stupid for spending that much on pretty much ‘nothing’.

      The true moral of this story is giving drunk people the opportunity to spend money on gifts for TF2, was single-handedly the most cynical and brilliant business decision Valve ever made.

  9. aircool says:

    You spend money, you get stuff. I never really think about how much money I spend on games plus expansion & microtransactions. If there’s something you like the look of and you’ve got enough spare cash to buy it, then why not? The amount of leisure time you get in exchange for you currency of choice is remarkably high.

    As for the price of GW2, you’re looking at fifteen to twenty beer tokens if that’s your thing, depending on where you live.

    Fifty notes isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things.. go on, treat yourself :))

  10. Shadram says:

    Try living in the Southern Hemisphere. All new games here cost NZ$100 on PC (about 50 quid), and Steam is often worse: we get charged in US dollars, with most new AAA releases costing US$90. Arkham City and MW3 are US$100. Yeah…

    • LTK says:

      I’d like some perspective on how badly the aussies and kiwis get shafted on games. What else can you buy for NZ$100?

      • Angel Dust says:

        4 new release CDs or 6 movie tickets.

        Mind you, I never pay $100 for games as there are plenty of online options, not all of them digital download either, offering better prices.

      • VicTheBitter says:

        The Australian market tends to fare better than NZ because of parity; often the AUD price is a few cents lower than the marked USD, but ultimately it seems the retail sector controls many Steam prices. New titles from the majors tend to be $20-40 more expensive and some titles just don’t seem to lose any value in the first year. Rage, Space Marine, Mafia 2 deluxe, Shogun 2, BLOPS and MW2 still $90. COD4 is still $50! There are a lot of things that are good value, but there examples like these that should simply never be bought on Steam after release and yet still seem to be popular. I can only assume it is a testament to convenience.

        Understandably, parallel importing turns out to be the best value in a lot of cases, though you do need to be prepared to wait; again the convenience factor. Obviously, this creates a public issue about taking money from local retailers and undercutting by not being subject to import duty or sales tax. However, it is the major retailers themselves pushing a trend providing less reasons to go into the store and more reasons to simply chase the lowest price.

    • ankh says:

      I live in the Southern Hemisphere and steam prices are the same as US prices.

  11. westyfield says:

    If this seems strange to you, consider this: Craig is Scottish.

    • thegooseking says:

      Hey, I bought the expensive version of Mass Effect 3, I’ll have you know. And not only that, I did so at the urging of another Scot, who did the same.

      This stereotype is inaccurate.

      But drawing attention to that kind of ruins the joke.

      Now I feel awkward.

  12. Valvarexart says:

    The only cosmetic DLC I’ve ever purchased is all the Magicka DLC, and that’s because I really want to support Arrowhead.
    Elsewise, I’ve never made a single microtransaction and I don’t feel particularly inclined to do so, either.

  13. sinister agent says:

    See also: the iphone. While other formats are still dumbly clinging onto £40 a go for a game (even Nintendo are still doing their characteristically arrogant “high prices long after the competition have closed the gap” thing), people are spending shitloads more on iphone games because they cost less than a loaf of bread, so people just don’t realise how much they’re spending.

    • Koozer says:

      Nintendo do put a little more effort into their offerings though than the average smartphone game developer. Seeing as Nintendo have the price of a proprietary console as a barrier to entry, they may be able to justify the high price of the games – their customers can’t exactly turn to anyone else for software for their shiny DS. (I know nothing of business and am making wild guesses)

      It would be interesting to see Nintendo try the cheapo-pounds model though. Problem is if they tried it they wouldn’t be able to go back or else there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  14. Chirez says:

    I think it’s probably relevant to go look at all the games you have paid for and work out how long you played each. Since steam gives you a total time played for each (at least through steam, and perhaps not entirely accurate) I can see that while I’ve played portal 2 for less than 20 hours, I’ve spent over 200 hours in Skyrim.

    Trying to work out the ‘value’ of a game is a hopeless endeavour. If you’re that bothered by TF2 transactions, why not consider how much money you spent back in the 80s on games you probably don’t even remember playing, now.

  15. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    So Guild Wars 2 is 50$€whatever. Is that on top of a subscription fee? Because if it is a non-subscription MMO it is a definitely new and welcomely honest approach as opposed to all these money seizing “free to play” schemes.

    I know, people could be strong, and just not pay for things they don’t need, but they’re not, and I feel that schemes that prey on these instincts are somewhat dishonest.

    • Dominic White says:

      No subscription. They’ve apparently got some cosmetic/convenience stuff lined up (fancy clothes, more bank storage space, etc) as optional purchases after launch.

      The issue is that the price for the UK is £50, and for America it’s £38.

      • sneetch says:

        Why not just buy it retail? UK retailers will sell if for about £35 or so.

        Edit oh and add UK VAT and $60 becomes £45.

        • Dominic White says:

          Pre-purchase to get early access – they’re going to be doing closed beta events starting from the end of this month right up til’ release, and I want to get my grubby mitts on the game.

          I almost never pre-order stuff, but I’ve talked with people who were in on the big press beta weekend. Even people who didn’t like MMOs loved it, so I’m confident that it’s worth the money.

    • Blaaaaaaag says:

      From the faq on the official site:
      “Will there be a subscription fee for Guild Wars 2?

      Nope. Like the original Guild Wars, there will be no subscription fee for Guild Wars 2. You just buy the game and play it online without paying a monthly fee.”

      With that in mind, (as well as that I’m in North America and therefore get a better price on it than most of you other folks around here) I’m inclined to buy the collectors edition. I’m fairly confident that GW2 won’t disappoint me, and that I’ll sink at least a couple hundred hours into it. An extra hundred bucks for a metal box, a pretty book, some other tat that I’m not really interested in… might seem a bit silly, but I’m silly, and I like to support awesome devs.

      Certain other devs/publishers, who shall remain nameless, have no hope of ever squeezing that kind of cash out of me, though.

  16. Carra says:

    I’m spending quite a bit on games but even though I’ve spent hundreds of hours in TF2 I’ve never bought anything in their app store.

    I’ve bought some DLC for games I really enjoy. Extra levels for Defense Grid or Orcs Must die. A dollar for an hour worth of gaming time is well worth it.

    • MattM says:

      The defense grid DLC was a nice addition. That style of game lends its self well to small additions of content and they priced it pretty reasonably.

    • Snakejuice says:

      I remember when I had to pay $1 for each hour of online gaming/mindless browsing/downloading warez at 5kb/s. Mom bought me my own phone line so I would have to pay my own bills, well worth the investment for her.

      Guess point is that what you (as a computer geek) can get for $1 today compared to 15-20 years ago is amazing!

  17. bear912 says:

    I shall admit it. I spent a bit of money on TF2… Then one day I opened a crate, got an unusual hat with a shiny new effect, and sold it for about $130 worth of games, and I don’t think I’ve purchased a single thing from Mann Co. since then. Effectively, I’ve made money (or games, at least) on TF2. Of course, I was ludicrously lucky to get an unusual hat, having opened only opened maybe a dozen or so crates, and I don’t particularly intend to test my luck again.

    Plus, a lot of the time I’m playing with stock weapons anyway, because vanilla Demoman is clearly best Demoman.

    • David_VI says:

      How do you make the money? I didn’t know you could actually sell things, I thought it was just trade?

      • Nevard says:

        He explained in his comment;
        “one day I opened a crate, got an unusual hat with a shiny new effect, and sold it for about $130 worth of games”

        He didn’t transfer the virtual goods back into cash, he traded it using the Steam Trading service for $130 worth of video games.

        • bear912 says:

          Yeah, that’s correct. I didn’t actually make cold, hard cash, but I did get more games, and–let’s be honest–that’s probably what I would have spent most of the cold, hard cash on anyway.

          There’s a sort of grey market for hats, too, though, where you can get money for a hat–real money, the stuff you can burn, or squash on train tracks, or at least order stuff from Amazon with. It’s complicated, though, and a risky, and Valve won’t be able to do anything if you get scammed. You need to use a middleman, someone who both parties trust and who has a long-standing reputation as a trustworthy middleman. There are various ways that this reputation can be built and examined, and when I was doing my hat trading, I didn’t manage to sort all of them out. As I recall, SourceOP was one of the places that high-level hat-and-cash trading was going on, so that’s somewhere you could probably look for info.

          As I understood the process, it went like this: once a trustworthy middleman had been agreed upon, the person selling the hat (henceforth known as H) would give the hat to the middleman, M. C, the person buying the hat with cash would send money to H using Paypal. When H received the money, he or she would tell M as much, who would then give the hat to C. That’s why the middleman must be absolutely trustworthy, and agreed upon by both H and C.

          If I had wanted to, I could have gone through this process, but staying within the relatively safe confines of Valve’s Steam trading system (where no middleman is necessary) made more sense for me.

  18. mrwonko says:

    I was pretty surprised when I realized I had spent over 50€ on Battleforge (if memory serves), though I did not regret it – I played it for many hours. I think that’s the most I’ve ever spent on a game (outside collectors editions etc.) so free2play can apparently work quite well.

    About 1.5 years ago I started buying more newly released games since that’s when the developers profit most from good sales – bought a fair share of new games since then. Also counters the too-many-games-to-play problem I get from Steam sales and indie bundles.

    • Dominic White says:

      Interestingly, the price of BFPoints for Battleforge has dropped recently, and hard. EA are experimenting with new, less brutally overpriced F2P models in some of their games.

  19. liquidsoap89 says:

    A year ago (and onwards) I was buying every game that I wanted at full price. Ps3 games, PC games, PSP games, whatever it was. I had no problem shelling out $40, $50, $60 for a game (or even more for collectors editions, of which I own MANY!). Eventually I took a step back and looked at my collections of games I had been collecting. I currently own 196 games on steam, 116 of which have been played, but many of those would only have been to see what the settings were like (so only 5-10 minutes for them), and I own about 100 PS3 games, of which maybe 30 or so have been played to completion.

    I thought about those facts, about all those games I own that have just been sitting there, never played (some not even taken out of the plastic wrap), and I realized that there was no reason to do that. I don’t gain anything from buying them on day one (besides the odd preorder bonus if I buy a retail game or some TF2 promotion), and I never join in on discussions about the games because I usually haven’t even played them yet.

    Since then, I’ve bought maybe 10 games day 1 (or preordered), but I’ve bought so many more off of Amazon or during one of steams many sales. I used to just buy older games on sale (games like Deus Ex, or Max Payne, Splinter Cell etc) but now I’ve been buying tons of other, newer games, for anywhere from 30 to 75% off!

    Long story short, I don’t necessarily think the value of games has gone down, but I absolutely think that for many people like me, if a game isn’t a 100% guaranteed winner, it WILL become cheaper, and that WILL happen quickly. The way we buy things is what has changed, and F2P is one of what I think will be many ways developers start to change their sales practices.

  20. Dana says:

    I have around 600 hours played in TF2, and Ive spend 0 on microtransactions. I couldn’t care less about hats, and I craft all weapons myself.

    • David_VI says:

      I’ve played 55 hours and I can’t imagine ever having enough stuff to be able to craft anything soon.. Surely it takes a long time to get enough metal?!

      • Strange_guy says:

        Crafting weapons isn’t really worth it, only 10 recipes require only 2 weapons and you can trade 2 weapons for most specific weapons. If you don’t like dealing with traders use TF2 Warehouse, which uses bots and a credit system for items.

      • zeroskill says:

        Strange_guy is absolutely right. Crafting weapons is a waste of your resources, you will always be better off trading for regular weapons. You can get almost any regular weapon for a scrap. The only instance where crafting weapons makes a bit of sense, is after an patch where new weapons are available, and you really want them right now. Even then you are better off waiting maybe a week and just trade for them.

  21. Moraven says:

    The rational I use is that if I can pay $10-15 MMO, I can drop that or less a month on a F2P I put many hours into. I am supporting a game I enjoy to continue to push content and getting many more hours out of it than a lot of $40 games and $15 DLC.

  22. bit_crusherrr says:

    So because you are stupid enough to pay for keys and other tat from the TF2 store it’s ok for ArenaNet to charge £50 for a game?

    I’ve only spent £9.99 on TF2. Which is how much it cost me when I bought it from a shop years ago.

  23. SeeBeeW says:

    Having worked on F2P games before, I have news for you—studios don’t make them because they make less money.

    While most people never put any cash down, they do bring a very valuable asset—their social graph. The advantage is that users believe this is valueless, so they’re willing to hand it over for almost nothing. The reality is that it’s very, very valuable, because somewhere at the end of every chain of individuals is a sucker, and that person is willing to drop hundreds of dollars on what are, let’s face it, worthless goods, and to do so again and again.

    (The actual production cost per user of an in-game item that’s basically a static model is, for a game with a few million players, something on the order of a hundredth of a cent, so do the math on the markup)

    Some people are like, “The game is free but I really enjoyed it, so I’m going to buy these vanity items as a way of throwing $20 at the author.” And kudos to them, because that’s a totally reasonable customer response, and a willingness to remunerate developers for their hard work is a service to the whole industry.

    But for the vast majority of paid users, they are basically getting grifted. The fact that you have to buy things in small chunks is not an accident, nor is the fact that for many F2P game purchases you have to convert real money into a secondary currency first (buying points or whatever)—these are taken from the gaming industry (as in gambling) as surefire methods to reduce your ability to tell how much you are paying. I guarantee if you haven’t actually kept track and done the math, then you’ve spent a lot more than you think you have. Again, it’s behavioural psychology exploited intentionally by developers.

    The success of the F2P model isn’t just in the massive profits, but in the fact that players actually think they are winning. We can even call if ‘free to play,’ and no one complains! But the truth of the matter is that whether you pay in money or you pay in access to your friends, in the end everyone pays.

    Edit and addendum: Before someone brings it up, F2P game developers are not bad people. Actually most of them are very nice. Unfortunately they are also often the victims of behavioural psychology. It turns out it takes exactly one asshole to create an industry based around robbing people, and first authority and then social proof will do the rest.

    • sightseemc says:

      They are not bad people and not the “victims” of the psychology they employ. And I’ve got to think that F2P is no more an “asshole” move than is tacking $.99 on everything to lower the before-the-dot price by 1 and convince people they are paying less. It’s up to you to pay attention to your spending. Everyone has their own price for entertainment; that justt means some people are willing to pay full price for a game (or a movie) and others will only pay on sale (matinee) or nothing (free TV).

      • SeeBeeW says:

        Yes, I believe people are responsible for their own actions, and so, much in the same way that consumers are answerable for their purchases, businesses and their employees are culpable for making the decision to deceive others, intentional or no.

        An absolutist position of caveat emptor here is morally simplistic.

        • sightseemc says:

          No more simplistic than assuming that a model where you choose whether to pay a little for a little (microtransactions) is evil. Evil is your word, and rather extreme when considering neither food, water, or basic human rights are at stake.

          Whether you choose to pay £50 for a game all at once, £100 over time with microtransactions, or £150 over 2 years from subscriptions is, inherently, your choice (unless you suffer from addiction). The idea that gaming companies have found that people prefer to pay in microtransactions (and ‘paying more” is another way of saying “prefer to pay”) is more a reflection of a mature marketplace offering choices for consumers, not necessarily a sign of evil profiteers leeching poor innocent children.

  24. sightseemc says:

    Incredible that nobody here has had *this* conversation with you, Mr. Pearson:

    You just pointed out the devaluing effect of endless sales and bundles on the industry as a whole. While £50 is a lot for a game, it’s far more interesting to think of how your “top price I’d pay for a game” has probably shrunk over the last few years as you’ve found more games for cheap…cheap enough that you can compare full games to microtransactions in other games. I am reminded of the Jos. A Bank commercials: buy 1 get 6 free!

    It’s not a question of intrinsic value of a game (since a game’s “value” is in the eye of the buyer), but what price range must a developer shoot for, and why. Are people happier buying games on sale because they truly like the price or because they’ve been told the price cost £X more by the original price and they get “value” from feeling they got a deal…or some of both?

    And as much as people hate £50 for a game, a few years ago $40/game was normal for a game (~£25ish yes?), but I’d bet that now people only pay that for the £50 game on sale, and wait for the new £25 game to go on sale for £10… and the £10 new game on sale at £5….I don’t care personally what people pay (I don’t work in the industry) but it’s interesting to see how what happened to the music industry (free downloads and microtransactions of $.99 singles) is happening to games.

  25. Kollega says:

    Sometimes, i think that microtransactions might be a reasonable business models, actually “micro” and in no way forcing the players’ hand, used only because allegedly free games have less of a barrier to entry and so don’t wither as quickly as pay-up-front games. And then i read this kind of article and realize that microtransactions are the devil.

    Consider this for a moment: in my country, you can buy three buns of bread for $1. And you can buy a full indie game on Steam for $10. I find it revolting that one virtual hat – a hat that dosen’t even exist – can have the same pricetag as a full game. Of course, as people have noted it’s a bit too little for a game… but it also sure as hell is too much for a virtual hat.

    And i still hate Valve for adding crates, which are basically gambling, and all this hat-peddling nonsense to TF2. Thanks for ruining my favourite game in the name of greed, jerks.

  26. Stevostin says:

    What is your “playtime”/”payed money” ratio ? I bet it’s still better than even cheap & long indie games. I think we spend in that store because we know the game just desserves more money and we want to send “success feedback” to the people who made it. It really is the shareware paradigm, but with hats. And if anyone viewed it as “vote money” rather than “what’s my instant, specific, value for money in the transaction”, FTP would stop to look ugly.

  27. Eukatheude says:

    I gave up on TF2. All these unoptimised hats/weapons made it run 50% slower than it did 6 months ago – with no graphical improvement whatsoever.

    • RogB says:

      its a good point. Im guessing theres no ‘remove all tat and display as default player models’ option too..

  28. Riotpoll says:

    GW (with all expansions) has cost me about 2.5p per hour I’ve played it.

  29. Kdansky says:

    Thank you for financing my 400 hours of TF2. I didn’t pay anything for it (besides the box, and I consider that a Portal-Box with free stuff on it anyway), and I never will. I’m glad that there are whales that splurge insane amounts of money for nothing, because that will pay for development times and server maintenance, so I can play the game for cheap.

    • zeroskill says:

      400 hours? You must be new to the game. I don’t know anybody who has less then 2000 hours logged in Team Fortress 2. 400 hours is what I have in Dota 2 and I consider myself a total noobshit in that game.

  30. MonkeyMonster says:

    If you only ever got tf2 as a free to play then spending on items seems perhaps less foolhardy. I have 11 or so crates and pondering what to do with them now. Been crafting too using the huge volume of items and now pretty much have what I’ve been wanting.
    Anyone want to trade? ;)

  31. Synesthesia says:

    well, i guess living in southamerica frees me from stupid microtransactions, dollars are way too expensive to waste them on a key. I havent bought a game at full price since portal 2, and it feels good.

  32. absolofdoom says:

    I have pages and pages of crates, so you can feel free to send any of those keys my way. You know, since you aren’t getting anything out of them anyway…

  33. Robin_G says:

    I regret what I have spent on TF2. I also found the total to be more than I realised. I always find the implementation of micro transactions to be a little insidious in general, but I had a lot more good-will towards Valve back then. I didn’t get anything of value from my spending and the updates since the store was introduced, that I am supposedly contributing towards funding just have gimmicky, unbalanced weapons and seem to steadily un-optimise the game.

  34. Nallen says:

    What’s more explotative, TF2 or FarmVille? GO.

  35. Cooper says:

    127 quid here.

    Which includes the £30 polycount pack (logic at the time: I reckoned got TF2 for free as I had no intention of playing it when I got the Orange Box. That was for how much such a game would have ccost me)

    But that other £100. Keys and bits mostly.

    It’s honestly surprising that I spent so much. but such is the nature of lots of small payments (I once calculated how much, roughly, I spend in the pub each year. Advice to others: Don’t do the maths.)

    Given the pint-of-beer equivalent measure I use for game purchases, I can safely say I’ve got more than the equivalent enjoyment of £127 worth of beer over the past few years from TF2, so don’t feel too bad about the cost. Though it has made me think twice about anything I do spend from now on.

  36. deanimate says:

    I started playing TF2 when it went free to play and have spent nothing on it so far and do not plan to change that. I have my Original rocket launcher for the soldier and use him 99% of the time. Job done.

  37. SKaREO says:

    You waste money on Kickstarter? That’s sad… It’s a scamming web site as far as I can tell. I’ll never put money on that web site for amateurs.