Skip to main content

Former Blizzard boss reckons you should be able to tip developers 'another $10 or $20' on top of $70 games

“I know $70 is already a lot, but it's an option at the end of the game I wish I had at times. Some games are that special”

Red Dead Redemption 2 image showing Arthur Morgan riding a horse with an ally while staring towards the camera. He is holding a revolver.
Image credit: Rockstar Games

The former president of Blizzard has suggested that players should have the option to tip developers after finishing a game. That’s on top of paying $70 for the game in the first place, mind.

Mike Ybarra - who departed Blizzard earlier this year - proposed the idea in a post on X, saying “I've thought about this idea for a while, as a player, since I've been diving into single player games lately”.

Ybarra suggested that games such as Elden Ring, Baldur's Gate 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn had “[left] me in awe of how amazing the experience was”, and wanting to give extra to the devs - both in recognition of both how good the games were, but also their lack of in-game microtransactions or paid DLC.

“At the end of the game, I've often thought ‘I wish I could give these folks another $10 or $20 because it was worth more than my initial $70 and they didn't try to nickel and dime me every second’,” Ybarra wrote. “I know $70 is already a lot, but it's an option at the end of the game I wish I had at times. Some games are that special.”

Ybarra’s specification that this would apply to $70 games presumably sets it apart from the likes of Patreon subscriptions, Ko-Fi donations and crowdfunders typically used by smaller indie developers to help them cover costs and give fans a way of supporting them. While it’s hard to argue against individual developers and studio staff deserving more money (as with most people employed below a C-suite level), it’s hard to believe - as many who responded to Ybarra’s post pointed out - that tipping on triple-A games wouldn’t simply end up in the pockets of publishers rather than filtering down to those actually creating the games - and often first to suffer at the whims of massive corporations.

Of course, that’s also in addition to the already eye-watering price of massive games in this day and age, which at least one CEO - Matthew Karch of Space Marine 2 devs Saber Interactive - recently said was unsustainable and due to “go the way of the dodo”.

Aloy prepares to fire an arrow at the Thunderjaw bearing down on her in Horizon Zero Dawn.
Image credit: PlayStation PC LLC

Unsurprisingly, Ybarra accurately predicted that “most will dislike this idea” while adding that “we are tired of ‘tipping’ in everything else” - to which I’d argue that it’s less the act of tipping itself and more the wider economic and business conditions requiring so many workers to rely on tips to make a living (and often even not that) - despite clarifying that he considers rewarding developers for making a great game as “different from a pressure to tip type scenario many face”.

Bear in mind, this is the same Mike Ybarra who only a few months ago said that “players want new content literally almost every single day” and developers must “monetise it in the right ways”, which is certainly something from one of the people involved with Overwatch 2’s much-criticised shift to a free-to-play game rotten with individual skins costing upwards of £20 last I checked.

Still, if the ability to tip developers directly ends up being a way to finally make this industry sustainable without simply making shareholders richer and punishing the very people responsible for its success is the solution, maybe he’s onto something after all. Personally, I won’t hold my breath.

Read this next