Profile

Cover photo
Mike Renwick
Attended Rhodes University
Lived in Durban
709 followers|28,100 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos+1's

Stream

Mike Renwick

commented on a video on YouTube.
Shared publicly  - 
 
great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
Hilarious
 
Coercive Pay-2-Play techniques
Coercive monetization models are used by many of the large corporations that dominate the "Pay to play" (P2P) charts in retail, console and mobile.  

They employ carefully engineered psychological traps intended to defraud ignorant players of their money. This shocking expose shines a light on their dark, inhumane practices.  Be forewarned: Despite extensive examinations of opinions similar to my own, I am intentionally unaware of any company that manages to use these systems of coercion in a positive manner. 

1. Purchasing sight unseen
The primary method is to get a player to purchase something without ever playing it.   If you can get players excited about a new game, most will buy it with little more to go on than a box shot and a video.  Many secondary techniques tie into this basic strategy of deceit. 

Companies intentionally avoid releasing demos or providing free trials in order to increase the number of purchases independent of whether or not a player might enjoy the actual game. 

2. Use of propaganda to artificially increase excitement
P2P publishers feed players videos, paid end caps, advertisements and canned previews.  Often the marketing spend for a title is greater than the development budget.  It is cynically assumed that if you shout targeted propaganda at an audience, they will buy in increased numbers. 

3. Limiting information to prevent alternate opinions
Since no one can play the game, the publishers are able to keep any information about the game tightly focused on the most effective message that drives purchases.   Heavy use of the captive fan press ensures that press releases are repeated verbatim. 

4. Distorted game design
Since all that matters in order to make the sale is the initial propaganda, the actual game design is sacrificed.  You make money by having a catchy theme, pretty graphics and the ability to turn out short sequential games rapidly.  As a result, P2P encourages developers to short, consumable interactive sequences with shallow, low risk, well-worn mechanics.  I hesitate to call them "games". Most are little more than a collection of puzzles or QTE that can be clicked through in 5 to 10 hours.

Also because all that matters is if someone buys the box, game designers need not worry much about retention or engagement.  Most P2P games are built with little care given to the final few levels.  It is common that 50-70% of players never complete a P2P game.  

5. Targeting those least able to understand modern sales techniques
Though it might be a stereotype, most P2P titles target poorly socialized teenage males.  Unlike women, an educated demographic that makes the majority of purchasing decisions in Western markets, these younger males are likely to naively buy into the pre-sales propaganda without critically questioning its actual purpose.  Now if these were shopping savvy 40-50 year old women, you might be willing to say "Let the buyer beware", but can we really expect an audience that has difficulty buying fresh boxers on a regular basis to purchase games responsibly?

6. Bundling and time-limited sales 
One of the more effective methods of psychological manipulation is to bundle multiple products together and offer them at an apparent discount.  Players perceive they are getting a massive value when in fact they are just accumulating more games that they are unlikely to play or even enjoy. 

This also preys upon those damaged individuals that possess strong hoarding inclinations.  How many times have you seen players with vast collections of hundreds of uncompleted games?  This is an obvious sign of mental illness which P2P developers are all too willing to exploit. 

7. Skinner Boxes 
Players end up treating game purchases like a slot machine.  They may buy dozens of games in a year, but only one or two will be worth their time.  This creates a random reinforcement schedule that sets up a form of psychological addiction.  Players find themselves stalking the latest game sale in the hopes of getting a new hit of gaming goodness.  Of course the system is rigged so that it is nearly impossible to know upfront whether the game in question is worth their money.  So they press the 'buy game button' and spin the wheel. 

Other means of manipulation
This small sampling of techniques points to the deep corruption inherent in both making and selling P2P games.  There are numerous other other manipulative practices: 

Use of fake tribalism: "Genesis does what Nintendon't" 

Collector's editions: Use of socially questionable materialism to artificially increase ARPU.

DRM:  The pay before you play model leads directly to DRM as a means of artificially blocking non-paying users from trying the game and seeing if they might like it.  Piracy becomes meaningless if you provide a long term service or hobby, but that is not the optimal strategy for money-grabbing P2P firms. 

$60 price tags:  If you are selling a fantasy product, you might as well take any willing mark for as much as possible. 

False console cycles:  With a mere billion dollars on fresh propaganda, P2P companies know that they can artificially stimulate a mass of people to invest in a new console and then repurchase their old games all over again. 

DLC:  Since P2P is essentially about churning out cheap, consumable content, these "games" only get upgraded if the expansions take the form of cheesy modular DLC.  Mechanical upgrades that improve the core gameplay or social systems are rare since there is little financial incentive. 

Overemphasis of reviews instead of actual player behavior:  Good reviews are just another form of message control and propaganda. This is why dev bonuses are tied to Metacritic scores instead of statistically valid player metrics. 

There is a substantial human cost to these shenanigans.  Through I have zero hands-on experience making P2P games (and honestly have no interest in them), several inexperienced indie friends attempted to make a P2P game. After one attempt, they failed to buy a Tesla in a crowded and competitive market.  Since I personally enjoyed the prototype they showed me at a game jam, I think it is clear that all the blame for their game's failure (and subsequent public emotional turmoil) can be laid at the feet of the P2P business model.  This is not the silver bullet you are looking for. 

In closing
In the end, P2P hurts gamers and the game industry as a whole. I urge you as an ethical designer to reject this immoral practice.   The egregious abuse of players by popular pay-2-play practitioners makes any use of P2P invalid. I question if it is even possible to make a moral P2P title. (Indies should especially distance themselves from this culture that is little better than legalized gambling.)

What we really need is to make great games where players can try the games for free and then make an informed decision on whether or not the game is worth their money.  In an ideal world, games should be meaningful long term hobbies that enrich a player's life, not some cynical scam job reliant on engineered propaganda spam, sexed up artwork, forced sequels and a captive press. 

Imagine games where players only pay their hard earned cash if they find the gameplay meaningful.  They can try any and all of a game for free as long as they want.  If they don't feel the game is adding to their life, then they can leave at any time.  

Sadly, such an honorable course seems unlikely.  No doubt that we'd see overblown rhetoric and misappropriated science denouncing such an idealistic experiment by those deeply involved in coercive, yet highly profitable, P2P businesses. 

Yours truly,
Monsieur Troll

When posting comments be sure to see if it passes the "I understand that this essay is satire" check.  I'd hate for there to be any sort of embarrassing misunderstandings.
28 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
+Robert Scoble re Google Glass, have you ever read "The Light of other days" by Stephen Baxter + Arthur C Clarke? 
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
8
Add a comment...
In his circles
982 people
Have him in circles
709 people
Jonathan Smyth's profile photo
Darryn Ten's profile photo
Cory Bates's profile photo
ade mahfudin's profile photo
Matteo Sgherri's profile photo
Richard Dancsi's profile photo
Jesse Thompson's profile photo
Marcus Hadlock's profile photo
Lourens de Villiers (Noki)'s profile photo

Mike Renwick

commented on a post on Blogger.
Shared publicly  - 
 
nice idea... i think the future is more things like path tracing though, since billboard/poly isn't the issue- it's the fundamentally broken lighting model, and the massive compromises needed to produce decent shadows.  Brigade 2 engine for example :)
When I'am creating scene in Unity i take in account thousands details like two-sided shader for transparent geometry, ambient light, correct billboarding, normal mapping direction and more. Have you ever think that's all of i...
2
Kostiantyn Dvornik's profile photo
 
Yes I mean it is all about light model. BTW: you can check 3D benchmark + true pine tree rendered in realtime:
http://kostiantyn-dvornik.blogspot.com/2013/10/worlds-first-crossplatform-3d-benchmark.html
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
I mocked up the new #IOS7  app icon design grid shown briefly in the #WWDC 2013 Apple Keynote.  

http://bit.ly/19lNAZu

Available here in vector PDF, if you want to update your app icon to the new paradigm.

http://www.runonthespot.com/Template/IOS7IconGridTemplate.pdf
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
1
Sean McCracken's profile photo
 
I see where you are going with this..... and a certain game you might be working on...
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
 

Now and for 24h only .. a bundle that includes GameDraw, Lightmap Manager 2 and Boolean RT is on Sale
https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/#/content/5674
Categories. Loading... Top Paid. Loading... RSS. Hot Deals! Loading... Top Free. Loading... Top Grossing. Loading... RSS. Latest. Loading... My Stuff. Loading...
1
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
Great stuff
 
Creative Clouds
Check out my inspiration blog with great stuff from all over the net:
http://creativeclouds.tumblr.com/
2 comments on original post
3
Add a comment...

Mike Renwick

Shared publicly  - 
 
An awesome little prank that a friend of mine +Greg Dunn made for IOS-  definitely check it out and make fools of all your work buddies!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/santa-hates-you-but-loves-me/id584644504?mt=8
1
Add a comment...
People
In his circles
982 people
Have him in circles
709 people
Jonathan Smyth's profile photo
Darryn Ten's profile photo
Cory Bates's profile photo
ade mahfudin's profile photo
Matteo Sgherri's profile photo
Richard Dancsi's profile photo
Jesse Thompson's profile photo
Marcus Hadlock's profile photo
Lourens de Villiers (Noki)'s profile photo
Work
Occupation
Developer
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Durban - London - Grahamstown
Links
Story
Introduction
I'm a husband and dad of two little future geeks- developer in the financial services industry, and in my spare time write games and experiment with augmented reality.
Education
  • Rhodes University
    Computer Science & Information Systems, 1998 - 2001
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Mike Renwick's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
The beta song
psychicparrotgames.com

The beta song. 1st Thursday, 2010 | Babble | no comments. This little ditty goes out to all you midnight programmers out there, in the style

illustration Design Inspiration Photo | Fab.com
fab.com

Fab.com features daily design inspirations and sales of up to 70% off of retail prices. Get inspired with illustration, photography, face de

Mom will be dead in a year...
ramblingalien.blogspot.com

We were treated to the usual songs and dancing in the pavilion and then headed out to open the new well (Borehole), freshly capped as of a w

The Google+ Project
www.google.com

The Google+ project makes sharing online more like sharing in real life. Take the interactive tour for a quick look at five of the first key

Appalacian Trail Sojourn
appalaciantrailsojourn.blogspot.com

Hi everyone! Well, it's been a while so there is much to tell. After getting back on the trail from Hiawasee, my hiking buddy and I push

King of Dragon Pass
a-sharp.com

King of Dragon Pass is the saga of colonizing a magical land.

Prader-Willi Syndrome | Doctor |
www.patient.co.uk

Patient.co.uk offers comprehensive health information as provided by GPs and nurses to patients during consultations

A conversation with Steve: maths student, journalist and all kinds of ot...
www.raspberrypi.org

Here's a (totally unedited) conversation that some guy who managed to get hold of Eben's email address started with Eben today. We have to l

Challenge, Relaxation Mingle In Dedale -- AppAdvice
appadvice.com

You can pick whichever square you’d like the butterfly to start. There’s no timer and no lives, so you can take all the time you need to map

MSP-WDS430BT2000D - Bluetooth Wearable Watch development system with Di...
estore.ti.com

Texas Instruments. Contact Us; |; TI Worldwide: United States; |; my.TI Login. Products; Applications; Design Support; Sample & Buy. All

King of Dragon Pass: King of Dragon Pass Is Out
kingofdragonpass.blogspot.com

King of Dragon Pass Is Out. King of Dragon Pass is now available in the App Store in the US! (A few hours before the 8th on my clock, but wh