WorstPlans.com updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible plans and ideas!

Tag: computer game

Behold the natural evolution of “in-game purchases” for video games: instead of “pay to win,” this new system is “pay to lose” or “pay to not be able to play at all.”

Background:

The financial model of the video game industry now makes heavy use of in-game purchases (“microtransactions” / “DLC” (downloadable content) / “loot boxes”). These supplementary purchases frequently bring in more revenue than traditional sales.

Most transactions fall into these categories:

  • Pay for additional content: the “expansion pack” model. This is old-fashioned, but still exists.
  • Pay for cosmetic items (e.g. “pay 5 dollars and you get a helmet shaped like a giant bird”)
  • Pay to skip the grind (e.g. “pay 10 dollars to get to level 100 and be able to use the best sword, rather than playing the game for 100 hours).
  • Pay to win (for multiplayer games, e.g. “pay 5 dollars, and in the next 5 matches, your tanks will reload twice as fast”). Frequently seen in mobile games.

Proposal:

Conspicuously absent from these models are “pay to stop being addicted to the game” and “pay to force myself to become a more responsible adult.”

Below are a few proposed new categories of in-game purchase wherein a user would pay in order to play less of the game (Figure 1):

  • Pay to cause the game to automatically quit if you’ve been playing for more than an hour.
  • Pay to prevent the game from running at all until after your taxes are filed.
  • Pay to prevent playing the game after 11:00 PM on a work night / school night.
1-microtransactions-to-prevent-playing-a-game

Fig. 1: These new in-game purchase options would be irresistible for an individual with an important presentation to give in a few days, but who couldn’t bring themselves to stop playing this addictive game. “Pay to lose” may seem counterintuitive, but it opens up a large number of surprising new microtransaction options.

PROS: Increases civic virtue and personal responsibility.

CONS: May reduce overall game revenue, since this process would tend to kick out the bigger spenders.

 

 

If you are a game designer, use this one weird tip to annoy your players—it’s for their own good.

Background:

Modern video games are, with a few notable exceptions, generally designed to minimize the amount of irritation and aggravation that the player experiences.

The issue:

However, one flip side to the general “smooth sailing” experience of gameplay is the lack of any “stake” of the user in the gameworld, which reduces the tension and (frequently) enjoyment as well.

Generally, any setback is extremely minor. Careless play leads to your character impacting the ground at 100 m/s? No problem—instantly respawn nearby, or load the previous save. Thus, there is no sense of danger associated with this form of escapist entertainment.

Proposal:

We can add back the sense of danger (and investment in the well-being of one’s video game avatar) by making the consequences of failure more dire. However, this is often difficult to reconcile with game design. For example, if a player walks onto a land mine after exploring a huge ruin, it seems excessive to make them re-explore the entire ruin. But with this proposal, the player can still be punished, yet without making them repeat content that they have already experienced.

Specifically, every time the player encounters a significant setback (i.e., crashes a racecar, gets exploded in a war game, fails to clear the viruses from the Dr. Mario bottle), they are faced with a timer that must count  down to 0 before the game can be restarted. Perhaps this would increase; the first failure within an hour would result in a 30 second penalty, then the second one would result in a 2-minute penalty, until finally perhaps the player has to wait a full hour to resume the game.

game-timer.png

Fig 1: The respawn timer increases as the player continues to meet their demise in a short period of time. This would probably work especially well for an open-world game like Fallout (or any other game that allows quick-saves), which otherwise have few feasible ways of punishing the player for setbacks.

PROS: Adds danger and excitement even to the most generic open-world game and/or game with generous save slots.

CONS: Probably would result in lots of whining on message boards.