“I mean, they’re not just gaming the system, they’re unfortunately using the system the best way they can,” No More Robot’s Mike Rose told MCV/DEVELOP. “Massive discounts are now the core way to sell on Nintendo Switch.” No More Robots themselves have proven the success of this strategy. And in another GameDiscoverCo newsletter, Carless demonstrated how a 90 per cent sale for the publisher’s title Not Tonight saw an explosion in revenue for the game – up to 6-10 times its usual revenue during the sale.
It all sounds fair seeing as devs end up with more money. Until…
“I really hate it,” Rose told MCV/DEVELOP. “I try to scream at game devs all the time “don’t devalue your work! Don’t deep discount! I’m stuck in a situation where I may be forced to deep discount on Switch, otherwise I literally cannot sell units on Switch. It’s heartbreaking, and it makes me really sad for the eShop.
“The way it’s going now, I reckon in around a year’s time, the eShop is going to look like the App Store – tons of cheap-looking titles that were clearly thrown together in the space of a few months, all selling at a dollar each. And everyone trying to make an honest living on Switch, won’t be able to anymore. I can’t imagine how else it’s going to go”.
And we do know where the App Store had to turn to in order to make things work for developers: subscriptions. Only that’s not an option with games. Sure there are subscription-based game services but per-game subscriptions just can’t work, as a game couldn’t possibly provide long-term value the same way an application someone’s work relies upon can.
Intel’s Xeon range of server chips currently power most of the machinery at the heart of the internet and corporate networks, generating the company’s most profitable source of revenue. It still has about 90% of this market, despite recent gains by AMD. Some Xeon models cost as much as a compact car.
A car, dear reader. A car. That aside, never forget that the server space is where the real money is to be found and that Intel absolutely dominates there. But Amazon, the world’s biggest provider of cloud services uses ARM’s architecture for their Graviton chips, now offers AMD instances etc. Intel might have the power, which also gives them the time to adjust, adapt, react. But the server-side game is afoot, make no mistake.
“The incredible demand for computing fuelled by new workloads like AI is driving more silicon experimentation in the cloud. Building on decades of x86 ecosystem innovation, we are committed to providing customers the world’s best CPUs and new products from GPUs to AI chips,” Intel said in a statement. “In this expanding market, we expect to gain share in many areas like AI training, 5G networks, graphics and autonomous driving.”
And yet the car-like cost of a high-end Xeon chip isn’t the main problem, electricity bills are.
You know you’re getting chewed when the EFF calls your campaign laughable from the off and they’re not even doing it to get traffic.
Bottom line: “The Association of National Advertisers estimates that, when the “ad tech tax” is taken into account, publishers are only taking home between 30 and 40 cents of every dollar [spent on ads].” The rest goes to third-party data brokers who keep the lights on by exploiting your information, and not to small businesses trying to work within a broken system to reach their customers.
Try to remember that the next time around Facebook tells you there’s here to defend the small business owner. I don’t deny that advertising using less accurate data also makes ads less accurate, hence less valuable. The fact that Facebook advertising is so powerful as to be essential doesn’t mean private citizens owe it to them to help their business model. The fact that they’re not asking for understanding but they’re acting offended instead should be factored in any calculations one makes before putting their trust in them.
But let’s say the only mean well. Why should the following be tolerated then?
And these scams are not the work of individual small-time crooks. Many of them appear to be part of systematic, well-oiled global operations, designed to take advantage of the lack of oversight on social media marketplaces and the influx of novice online shoppers brought by pandemic quarantines, and the shutdown of brick-and-mortar stores. And the spoils of one of the largest known shopping scam networks may be benefiting a major Chinese company: the publicly traded TIZA Information Industry Corporation INC., whose 2019 revenue was $549 million.
This feels like an issue dealt with the age old method of “throwing people at it”. People cost more than automated processes though and over at Facebook lowering support costs by 30% during the 2nd half of 2020 has been cause for celebration. Does it seem to you like they’re actively trying to first deal with scams, thus protecting merchant reputation and users, and then find way to cut costs without compromising on support quality?
[Mass market, mystery boxes and metric-driven design: The legacy of FarmVille]()
Game consultant Tadhg Kelly points to FarmVille as the moment behavioral analytics really became integrated into game design practices. In turn, this “clearly genericised design” and has moved much of the industry “into ethically grayer spaces.”
Luton observes that other developers quickly broke down the success of FarmVille and tried to replicate it in their own title. This changed the way games were being developed; it was no longer just about the core experience, but also who was playing and how they played.
My first instinct here was to try and imagine a chef designing a recipe primarily based on who’s eating and how they eat. Then I realised there’s already a term for what comes out of such a process: “airline food”.
”A new design ideology began which incorporated traditional game design alongside disparate fields like behavioural economics, business management and data analysis,” he says. “The industry started to have a new language to talk about games as designers began to discuss core loops, sessioning, pinch points, return triggers, ARPMAU and the like. It sort of academialised and challenged a lot of the received wisdom and art of game design, which push games forward even outside of the free-to-play and social space.
I’d argue this is progress. As long as more data and insights are used to feed design changes that benefit the core, the fact that a game is a game. Give a creator what’s needed to better understand players and they might even understand themselves better as creators and games as medium. But treat data not as a tool but as a universal North Star and things get dicey. That’s how we end up in the aforementioned “grayer spaces”.