How to keep gamers happy losing to Pay to Win players
April 17, 2015 1:25 AM   Subscribe

Paying to Win: Battlefield Heroes, Virtual Goods and Paying For Gameplay Advantages -- Ben Cousins, then general manager of Easy, EA's free to play development studio, looks at the controversy surrounding Battlefield Heroes and its "pay to win" model and how the game was (re)designed to deal with those complaints while still getting people to spent money on it. -- More presentations are available from his website.
posted by MartinWisse (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating. I'm especially interested by people who complained so much and yet continued to play and spend. (That matches with my experiences in receiving complaints for doing things. People complained, but behaviour didn't change.)

The question this doesn't address is that if it actually makes the game better/ more fun to play though. My girlfriend and I laughed out loud at the business manager- people are getting too good of a game for free! Oh the horror.
posted by Braeburn at 3:05 AM on April 17, 2015

Look at it from a user's perspective: if you're going to quit using the service anyway, why bother to complain? It's only worth complaining if you're going to keep playing and spending time on it. Complainers are like the canaries in the coal mine -- the people who quit won't usually bother giving feedback; they might be too angry to even deal with you anymore.
posted by amtho at 3:51 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Interesting talk, particularly the last couple of minutes. I was surprised by the outcome from the decisions that they'd made. It is always good to remember that forumites are the most passionate members, but not necessarily representative of the whole userbase.
posted by YAMWAK at 5:11 AM on April 17, 2015

Worth noting: Battlefield Heroes is shutting down along with a bunch of other EA free-to-play games.
posted by chrominance at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I unsuccessfully gambled on my complaining customer base staying & paying, I'm probably not going to hold a talk about it. So I'm not sure how reliable their numbers really are. But I am happy that they won that round and kept their jobs, not least because I appreciated this look behind the scenes.
posted by Ashenmote at 6:19 AM on April 17, 2015

It looks like this talk is from 2011 or 2012, which was when the free-to-play wave was cresting. I'd be really interested in seeing if/how they were able to move the needle as audiences became more experienced with free-to-play economies, and what they attribute their eventual fall to.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:41 AM on April 17, 2015

An important part of an F2P or P2W game that is multiplayer is maintaining a critical mass of players to make the game work. If you don't keep the non-payers coming in too, the payers will not see the value and leave.

> It's only worth complaining if you're going to keep playing and spending time on it.

This is true, and also can be very tiresome. I casually play Mechwarrior Online which is arguably not even P2W as everything in the game can be acquired through enough slogging, and have probably tossed over $100 into it over the last few years. The game to me is fun enough that I don't mind averaging $5-$10 a month on it with optional purchases instead of grinding to get new mechs etc. But to hear all of the whiners over at /r/mwo on Reddit, you'd think the game company is literally Satan. Sometimes the front page of that sub is 80% whining, 20% actual game discussion. I keep thinking when I see that "My God, if you people hate the game/direction/developers so much, why are you playing?"
posted by barc0001 at 9:44 AM on April 17, 2015

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