I'm still not totally sure who Kate Upton is
March 5, 2015 4:52 PM   Subscribe

You might have noticed that there were three advertisements for video games aired during February's Super Bowl. All three were for free to play mobile games (1 2 3). Bloomberg Business explores how you make that kind of money (warning, super excessive design) while Giant Bomb plays the actual games. Also, just who are these people spending all that money?
posted by selfnoise (36 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, just who are these people spending all that money?

I'm still thinking about that pharmaceutical company, Valeant, that advertised toenail-fungal medication during the Super Bowl?

1. Is this problem that widespread?
2. This company makes so much damn money that they can afford a Super Bowl prime-time advertisement $4.5 million.
3. Ugh.
posted by Fizz at 4:57 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


it would be interesting to know what strain(s) of weed led to that bloomberg design.

This is a good series of articles going more in depth on what exactly makes a particular mobile game addictive.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:01 PM on March 5, 2015


(warning, super excessive design)

I remember when I was in my teen years and I learned how to use HTML. This was some time in the 90s. My webpage was literally filled with line-breaks made of animated fire. That and a "This site is under construction." sign that revolved. I didn't know what I was doing at all.
posted by Fizz at 5:05 PM on March 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


1. Is this problem that widespread?

Among sports-type people. Yes, absolutely.
posted by anastasiav at 5:07 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


An interesting "gamer dad" take on the situation from NeoGAF: Help, my child is addicted to freemium shovelware
posted by Rhaomi at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm still not totally sure who Kate Upton is

She's the evolved Pokemon version of Kate Middleton, right?

(Who in turn evolved from Kate Downton Abbey...)
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:13 PM on March 5, 2015 [31 favorites]


When they said that the naked armor lady in the first commercial was Kate Upton, I did a double-take. How could that be?

Then I googled her and discovered that she is not, as I had thought for some reason, the woman who married that prince in England a couple of years ago.
posted by IAmUnaware at 5:15 PM on March 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Honestly i feel like you could run a lot of these games mostly counting on profits from this sort of ecosystems "whales", ala casino whales. I've known of kids in the wealthy and upper middle class suburbs around the microsoft/nintendo/etc campuses whose parents gave them an essentially open ended allowance for games and game stuff. $500 DDR pads? Sure! Couple thousand bucks for PC parts? Go for it!

If you can capture the attention of the young versions of those kids who all have iphones(or occasionally high end android phones) and are now square in the target market those kids i knew of where were when i was that age, and milk hundreds of dollars out of them per game, you wouldn't even need all that many to be turning a tidy profit.

Sure, it's one thing to get $5-20 out of a lot of people, but you need a lot less of those people if you can corner the market of kids willing to spend $50-200 or more of their parents money on your game... and then make 8 of those games that their friends will get them to play.

But seriously, when i see stories like this i always think "heh, i knew kids whose parents wouldn't even give a fuck that they did that. they'll probably do it again in a month or two".
posted by emptythought at 5:22 PM on March 5, 2015


Free to play mobile game companies all work the same way.

Step one: build a game. Build in road blocks that are difficult to overcome but can be easily overcome by spending in game currency. Also build in a place to show ads. It doesn't matter if you game is fun.

Step two: go talk to a few mobile ad networks. Tell them you want to by X users (where X is a big number, like a few hundred thousand), and how much will they charge per user? Go with the lowest price, or a mix.

Step three: make a graph with two lines. One line is how much you're spending per install to acquire users, the second line is how much you're making per user on in-game currency purchases and advertising.

If the second line is above the first line in step three, you're winning. If you're lucky, your game takes on a life of its own and you sit back and rake in the money. If your game really blows, you won't have any user retention and eventually you're just advertising to the same people. So crank out a new game using your existing team and infrastructure. Repeat until you're rich or you run out of money.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:23 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Game of War sounds fascinating but I'd have to try it to be sure - it actually sounds very close to a Facebook version of Civilization (!!!) that my friends and I played some years back.

It was actually really good but the studio couldn't figure out an effective way of monetizing it without making it suck. Ahh this is a nostalgia trip...

Every player was the mayor of a town and they had their own tiny plot of land to build on that no one could intrude on, and you could join a Civ to pool your resources and research. You unlocked technology jointly as a Civilization: once a tech was unlocked for one Civ, all other competing Civs get a discount on it (as in the actual game). The world moved through "Ages" in sequence as various techs were unlocked, with a full game taking a week to go from stone age up to modern era. As part of a Civilization you had to vote, jostle with other players to obtain ministerial positions or become the king, and wage war to steal other Civ's wonders, defend your borders, etc, all in real time. You could Facebook chat other towns and convince them to betray their Civ (particularly devastating just as a war was going on). Once the game ends at the end of the Modern Era the winner is decided, virtual currency is handed out, and you can go looking for another game to play, starting from the stone age again. One of the funnier parts of the game was finding people who - just didn't want to join a Civ, or joined a very weak Civ, who would still be at a low technology level - say spears and archers - while the rest of the world was using tanks and rifles. That's just like real life - and that was fine too - the advanced Civs had no reason to attack the more backward ones at all. They were just having fun building stuff.

It seemed like the perfect game to play if you were checking Facebook multiple times a day anyway, and the coordination between large number of players in your Civ was a lot of fun. For example, everyone can give commands to their own troops, but the King and Minister of Defense have the ability to override those commands themselves - this means that you want to separate the King and Minister of Defense into different timezones so you're fully covered in case of attack. Or even worse, if you planted a saboteur into an enemy Civ, they could "win" the title of Minister of Defense and then deliberately lose the war. We'd track the enemy Civ's activity timeline and figure out when they were sleeping and time our attack then. You could intervene in wars between two other Civs by sending troops to support one side unexpectedly, throwing a wrench into their plans.

It was all very Game of Thrones, I loved it, and each game, while intense, only lasted a week.

It was discontinued two years ago =(
posted by xdvesper at 5:26 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]




Vesper, that sounds like both a fun game and not really anything like game of war, judging by Giant Bomb's assessment.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:32 PM on March 5, 2015


When they said that the naked armor lady in the first commercial was Kate Upton, I did a double-take. How could that be?

There was a "women in realistic armor" FPP a while back; the poor actress' inappropriately jiggly armor is a perfect example of how a warrior woman would not dress, though at least it didn't expose her bellybutton.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:32 PM on March 5, 2015


These games depress me.

Thankfully there are others that are approaching the "freemium" model from other angles, like Crossy Road.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:07 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, I fantasize about making a mobile game that would work like the old-style, coin-op arcades. You buy tokens at 25 cents apiece. What do the tokens give you? One token = three lives. If you die, you can buy three more lives with another token. And that's it. No paying for power-ups. No energy/stamina/whatever depletion that could be overcome by paying. Maybe there'd be a demo mode that gives you access to some training levels or the first three levels or something for free (as a sop to modern sensibilities).
posted by mhum at 6:34 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh, that Neogaf thread had this gem:

When I was 9-10, I spent my allowed gaming time on things like Super Mario Kart, a well balanced game that improved my manual dexterity and reflexes. It helped improve my abstract reasoning and computer processing skills, two things which help me in my career to this day.

In my day we played a wholesome video game that put hair on our chests! It built character! Not like today's games, dagnabbit.

I'm going to go play DOS games on an emulator now
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:38 PM on March 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


IAmUnaware: "Then I googled her and discovered that she is not, as I had thought for some reason, the woman who married that prince in England a couple of years ago."

I am so, so glad that I'm not the only person who made that mistake.
posted by Bugbread at 6:53 PM on March 5, 2015


judging by Giant Bomb's assessment

Wait, did Giant Bomb have an assessment? I watched at least 5 minutes of that video and didn't hear one. And for all the one guy's complaining about how difficult it was to parse the Game of War screen, you'd have thought they might have rehearsed or edited their video.
posted by asterix at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Repeat until you're rich or you run out of money.
posted by localroger at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, did Giant Bomb have an assessment? I watched at least 5 minutes of that video and didn't hear one. And for all the one guy's complaining about how difficult it was to parse the Game of War screen, you'd have thought they might have rehearsed or edited their video.

I read the 3 sentences of your comment and saw the assessment that Game of War has a complex, hard-to-parse interface. Perhaps you were expecting a different structure than Giant Bomb apparently uses in these sorts of videos, but the video seemed like a form of criticism to me, and I came away with a sense of what playing the three games is like.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:42 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm still not totally sure who Kate Upton is

I think it might be some sort of measure of my disconnectedness from popular culture that I thought "They got the author of Hark, A Vagrant for a Superbowl commercial??". But then, most of the pop culture I get is via Metafilter. I can't decide if you lot need to raise your game or if you're doing a bang up job.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:54 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Homeboy Trouble: "I read the 3 sentences of your comment and saw the assessment that Game of War has a complex, hard-to-parse interface. "

If it takes you five minutes to convey "The screen is busy. There's a lot of stuff vying for your attention," your video needs editing.

That, or there needs to be something like:
Quick Looks at Quick Looks: The Three Video Games Advertised During The Super Bowl

John watched that long 'quick' look at all those weird mobile games you can't avoid seeing commercials for, so you don't have to.
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 PM on March 5, 2015


I will allow that Giant Bomb's assessment amounted to "as expected, this game is not fun and hard to play" which perhaps isn't a super impartial assessment but frankly any game that says "you either have to wait or spend money to play me right now" can die in a fire.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:07 PM on March 5, 2015


The whole point of Quick Looks is unedited footage. Not everybody's cuppa, but that's what they are.

And yes "quick" is a bit of an extended joke at this point. I think the longest one clocks in at around 2 hours.
posted by kmz at 8:42 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it takes you five minutes to convey "The screen is busy. There's a lot of stuff vying for your attention," your video needs editing.

Ding ding ding.

And honestly, the simple fact that the screen is busy doesn't tell me a goddamn thing about how much fun the game is to play.
posted by asterix at 8:54 PM on March 5, 2015


kmz: "The whole point of Quick Looks is unedited footage. Not everybody's cuppa, but that's what they are. "

Ah, okay, quick like "quick to market" or "quick to appear on the site" (i.e. you don't have to wait), not "quick to watch". That makes a lot more sense.
posted by Bugbread at 9:07 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bloomberg Business has had some nice design lately, and this is no exception.
posted by univac at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2015



(warning, super excessive design)

I remember when I was in my teen years and I learned how to use HTML. This was some time in the 90s. My webpage was literally filled with line-breaks made of animated fire. That and a "This site is under construction." sign that revolved. I didn't know what I was doing at all.


Say what you will about the site design. I learned from the Would You Like To Know More? link at the bottom of the page that people are learning Dothraki.

"Son, your grandfather learned Elvish in the 70s. I learned Klingon in the 90s. The time has come to put aside childish pursuits and embrace manhood. "
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2015


Game of War pisses me off massively because it is very nearly the only ad in my Twitter feed, again and again, day in and day out.
posted by newdaddy at 3:54 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Then why don't you just download it already?
spons
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:48 AM on March 6, 2015


I used to work at a company named Kongregate, which is a place where anybody can upload and share games they've made. It's been around since 2008 so quite a few of the sixty thousand games available are Flash, but recently people have started using Unity and various other engines.

Anyway, Kongregate has been doing free-to-play games for quite a few years now, both on web and on mobile. The co-founder and CEO Emily Greer gave a talk at GDC yesterday about this whole thing called Don't Call Them Whales wherein she makes the compelling point that the really big spenders in these games are actually spending money at their hobby, equivalent to the amounts that other people spend while pursing golf or woodworking or knitting or what-have-you.

(unfortunately the recording is behind the GDC paywall, but that link has the slides and narration from her talk).
posted by zrail at 7:18 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thankfully there are others that are approaching the "freemium" model from other angles, like Crossy Road.

Thanks for the article. I've really been enjoying Crossy Road and I like that it isn't "hard sell".
posted by Fleebnork at 7:49 AM on March 6, 2015


"They got the author of Hark, A Vagrant for a Superbowl commercial??"

I so want to live in that world.
posted by Zonker at 9:31 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seek rent discreetly, my lord! <{g|j}iggles>
posted by Rat Spatula at 12:30 PM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eve Online is NOT sharded.
posted by hellphish at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2015


My kids were playing Clash of Clans, so I joined in.
It is ok. I come from a background of very occasional gaming, and I think the epitome of PC games was CivII, so I am culturally not an xbox, ps4, pc master race guy.
But these games are free, and you can play them to high levels of success without paying if you are patient. Or really, just play a bit now and again regularly.
There is a dynamic where you steal others stuff by raiding their bases, as you can see on the advert. Pickings are richer if the player you are attacking hasn't been online for a while, and their riches have accumulated. Interestingly, there is more available on weekends. I suspect that kids are playing the game regularly all week, but come the weekend Mum and Dad make them get off their screens.
So I steal their riches. HAHAHAHA I make the rules in my house noobs.
posted by bystander at 3:24 AM on March 8, 2015


« Older Mrs. Christie, You Write Great Books   |   Observe how the light affects the fabric in the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments