I previously talked about how gaming is slowly evolving through means of art and it's attempt in becoming a more serious medium worthy of respect. I have also talked about the industry as a business model on my talk show. In Last Monday's episode, we talked about how downloadable content (DLC) is being handled by games like Halo 5: Guardians and Destiny. We discussed the term "leaving money on the table" and how it plays into various company decisions.
To be brief, "leaving money on the table" is corporate talk. It has all sorts of meanings that can only be determined by a specific situation. If you are making a single player game like Assassin's Creed, by not including a multiplayer mode you are "leaving money on the table." By creating a game with 20 maps and no additional future content that doesn't cost a whole lot to develop, you are "leaving money on the table." By not offering additional story content, you are "leaving money on the table." I'm sure you get the point, but I have to use the "rule of three's" there.
Now I bring this up because as it turns out, adding multiplayer into Assassin's Creed isn't leaving money on the table after all. It's allocating resources into an unpopular section of a game, where the resources could be put into elsewhere. Yet again, a section of the gaming world has changed and that is the ability to get more money out of our pockets. How did this happen? League of Legends is how this happened.
I'll explain very simply. League of Legends is a free to play game. You can download it right now. You can choose several characters to play as, but Riot Games makes their money from people purchasing characters. Characters don't cost as much as a full retail game. They are significantly cheaper. So buying a character and getting content like free maps is pretty awesome. Halo 5 is doing this, and Bungie announced recently that Destiny will be making this transition as well.
Why is this happening? How is this possible?
You see, with the wild success of League of Legends and their pay model, they attracted the eye of many companies. Somewhere down the line, season passes and map packs don't pull in the same profit as it used to. Using the same system that League of Legends uses might be a way to sway the profits back in. It is also a huge advantage for gamers as well. In games like Call of Duty, you had to purchase these map packs that came out on a quarterly basis. If you didn't buy them then you couldn't play with people who did have these packs. In Halo 5, you're getting free maps. You don't have to pay the money for them. Instead you have to pay for REQ packs.
In Halo 5 you have REQ packs which will come with items or weapons to use in game. Now you can buy the packs with in game currency. Or you can pay real money to unlock some early in the game (let it be noted that you still have to reach a specific level to use certain items). In Destiny, all missions and multiplayer maps will be free, but they are adding a currency which you can only buy with real money. That currency is called "Silver" and it's used to buy emotes come October 13th. I'm sure that will extend to other items as well. The only thing you would have to pay for in Destiny will be major expansions like "The Taken King" or the inevitable Destiny 2.
Now I am totally okay with this model. You leave the game open for everyone to experience. You're not ripping people apart, and you're not denying them access to something. They get the full experience. With a game like Destiny, missing a piece of content could turn terrible for those who didn't invest in the $20 DLC. By giving it away for free, you're opening your doors for more people to jump in an play. Plus on a public relations level, you look pretty damn good by releasing future content for free. It has worked for games like The Witcher 3, and will continue to be the go-to model of gaming's future.
As consumers, we have to keep our head held high. We have to show companies that we support their products, because for us, this is going to be as good as it gets. We can't have all of our DLC free, and no microtransactions (as these are called). Companies need to make money on things we like. Sure, dancing emotes might not be something we care about, but the more I see different dances, the more free my next DLC gets. So to all Guardians out there, dance like no one is paying.