What are the player benefits of pay-to-save-time games?

Free-to-play games often introduce the “pay to save your time” model. In the game, you can wait or do grinding, or you can buy your way out of these situations. It’s a pretty common way to monetize these games.

All I’ve heard is pretty much objections towards this model, from developers. Quite fierce objections – have to admit I’ve done the same as well.

But if we take a totally objective way to look at this model, is it really that bad?

Is it really that different from feature-locking, or level locking? A decade ago, there was plenty of discussion about shareware locking. Some said that 30 day trial is a good, while others recommended 60 minutes trials. And then there were many other, like locked features and whatnot.

Is pay-to-save time simply a new alternative way to lock your game?

Is it a nice way to allow people to play the game free infinitely, while also allowing those who have less time (but more money) to focus on different aspects of the game?

From a player perspective, is pay-to-save-time locking a better or worse alternative than for example demo vs full versions, where demo version shows only a little bit of the game?

What you think?

Us versus them: the new humble THQ bundle case

The new Humble Bundle has received mixed opinions. People are taking sides and preparing to attack or defend the new bundle – or something between. People have really fierce arguments over how the current bundle is nasty, evil bad thing.

I think there’s quite many irrational arguments that get dragged in the conversation to support people’s views.

Here’s the situation I’m thinking when I’m estimating the newest bundle:

If we imagine a situation where this newest bundle would be the first bundle. How would I react?

Here’s some facts:

  • I get to pay whatever I want ($1 or more)
  • I get several games from a company who has paid & owns the rights for those games.
  • I can decide the amount that charity will receive
  • I get to decide the amount that bundle creators receive
  • There’s DRM.
  • These are Windows-only games

These are the facts as I look at this offering as-is. When looking at this offer only, it’s irrelevant whether there has been previous bundles or not. Whether previous bundle had Linux games or not, is totally irrelevant when it comes to evaluating the current offering.

If I’m having a good day today, it’s irrelevant whether I had a good or bad day yesterday. I can be happy about today, even if was shitty day yesterday.

Similarly, I can objectively look at this bundle offering, and determine whether it’s a good or bad.

The actual offering looks to me pretty humble and solid. I can decide price, I have windows, so those factors are okay. Then I can determine what I think of DRM. Well, usually I prefer without… but if these games work enough, I don’t care having DRM, so that factor – to me – is fine.

Then there’s couple of other factors:

  • Charity: does these charity organisation do good things? Are they worth supporting? I can google, ask others, and do bit of research to see whether I want to support them or not.
  • THQ the company. I can ask questions such as: what is this company about? Have they’ve done such things in the past that I don’t want to support them? If I help them today, will they use my money wisely? Will they do good things? If I don’t know the answers to these questions I could google and find out. I can adjust the slider as I prefer.
  • Bundle organizing company: I can see they have investors backing them, I see they have job offerings. In the past I’ve seen nice bundles, so they’ve done good things in the past. They are collaborating with THQ – is that good? Do I want to support this? Again, I can google, ask around and do a bit of research if I want, and then decide where I set the slider.

To me, it feels that only the “which companies are participating in this” is bit more subjective. All other factors can be reasoned to be pros or cons (for example: Linux gamers can automatically reject the bundle since it’s Windows only).

Then some factors that are irrelevant:

  • Previous bundle had Linux + Windows + Mac
  • Indies made the games in previous bundles

Going to take a closer look at each of these factors.

“Previous bundle had Linux + Windows + Mac”
This argument has absolutely no meaning in measuring this current bundle. If I have a great day today, it’s irrelevant whether I had a bad day yesterday. Dogs are good at getting this, humans not. We humans tend to drag our past experiences into something where they don’t belong. And I must emphasize: I’m evaluating this current THQ bundle.

Equally well we could turn it around. Imagine that all the previous bundles were AAA, windows-only, DRM games — and you bought none of them.

And then comes a new bundle. If the new bundle offers indie, windows+linux+mac, no DRM games, would you not buy “because previous bundles were windows only”? To me, that makes no sense.

“Indies made the games in previous bundles”
Again, a factor that doesn’t matter. Two reasons why: being “indie” is not important. Providing fun games is.

When I purchase games, I make the decision based on the fun factor, or when I want to support interesting projects. Whether they were created by indies or not is irrelevant. I want that the most fun games survive in this world.

I’m an indie, but my goal is not to be an indie. My goal is to have fun creating games, and to see that other (some, not all) people find them fun. Whether I’m an indie or not is irrelevant.

And again the history aspect: whether other bundles had indie games or not is irrelevant when evaluating this current bundle. We people want continuation, and if something doesn’t match our expectations, we tend to drag the history with us to argument how this current offering cannot be good since previous offer was different.

When estimating this offering, the indie factor has little meaning.

The gaming world is not about “us” and “them”, “indie” or “aaa”. It’s more about “offering bad games” or “offering fun games”.

I vote with my wallet for “offering fun games” by companies that hopefully treat their people good, and just perhaps help make the world a bit better place.