Lack of unique rewards

One of the problems of modern games is the lack of unique rewards for unique performance. The game still has rewards for good play, but the same rewards are available for bad play too. Maybe longer bad play. In extreme cases, bad play gives more rewards. But usually not, however this can be bypassed with bots.

PUBG is plagued by crawler bots. These don’t do anything but crawl in the middle of nowhere, so it’s unlikely that players find and kill them. Sooner or later the game zone will exclude their crawling space and they die, but they receive points for their non-performance and the botter can buy lootboxes from it. This is a serious problem and probably the one responsible for PUBG losing players. Sure, it’s still #1 on steam but it’s down by 20% since its peak.

Players follow the rewards. If the game offers no challenge, they get bored. If there is no reward for doing challenging play, they will not take the challenge and get bored. Most PUBG players don’t even try to win, they just jump to some high-population spot and fight “for fun”. Then they just don’t log in.

It wasn’t like this always. In Vanilla WoW and BC the best gear came from raids and only the best players could claim them. There was no catch-up to wait. Full epic was something awesome in Vanilla. Legendary gear was something that only a handful had. Go figure, player count was up back then.

Probably this is the most accurate definition of “hard game”: “provides unique and wanted rewards for completing the hard challenge”. Simply having hard challenge is not enough, players just ignore it. It must give reward and there should be no alternative ways to claim those rewards.

Another lootbox ban

Another day, another country bans lootboxes as gambling. What is interesting is that they name games, including PUBG for having random rewards that can be cashed out, even if the game company itself isn’t involved in the cashing.

That should be obvious, a gambling parlor where players can win money from each other on cards is gambling, despite the house itself is not giving out payments. Please also note that illicit RMT sites aren’t illegal in the sense of cops can be called on them (outside of tax evasion). The game company can ban your account for RMT, might even sue your for damages, but that’s are civil cases, ergo you still count as a cashing out mechanism.

Furthermore, most of the illegal gambling contains illegal payouts (usually in the form of maffia) and that doesn’t help the participants, actually it makes their sentences worse. Ergo, even if the cashout mechanism is totally illegal (like credit card frauding criminals) it doesn’t save the developer from illegal gambling if they provide the actual game of chance and the accounting (by keeping the skins which act as gambling tokens on your account until you cash out).

As I keep saying, the video game industry will be cleansed from gambling elements, not by themselves but by the law. I believe that it will go deeper than it would have if the industry doesn’t go overboard with gambling. Ergo, I believe even random gear drops on bosses will be banned, as they are game of chance and can be cashed out by account selling. What’s left in games without randomized rewards? Only game of skill and rewarding skill.

Where are the games from illiberal countries?

Let’s say that you live in a place where you can lose your job for a political statement or even for offending someone. Let’s also say that you missed history classes and try to fit in instead of getting out before they lock you into “work” camps. This case your everyday “normalcy” seeps into the games you design and you find it normal to ban players who offended anybody or give out rewards regardless of merit.

However not all countries are like this and one would assume that games are made in these countries. There are such games, like the unexpected hit Kingdom Come: Deliverance, developed in the Czech Republic. Please note that it couldn’t have been developed in a liberal country, even if someone had the money to self-fund it, because the developers were arrested, assaulted or boycotted in their everyday life.

But why there are no more such games? Why there is no infamous Polish FPS or Russian MMORPG? Don’t tell me it’s lack of funds, if EVE could be developed in Iceland, I’m sure there is enough money in illiberal countries to fund even an AAA MMO.

I’m absolutely sure that there would be a huge market for such games. Half of the US voters voted for Trump. 1/3 of the French voted for Le Pen. Nobody makes games for them. Hardly anyone makes other kind of entertainment for them. The right-leaning sitcom Roseanne trumped the rating expectations, not because it’s awesome, but because there are no other shows a Trump voter can tune to without being spat on.

How would such game look like?

  • Meritocracy: your performance defines your progress
  • Hands off: developers will govern with open in-game rules instead of arbitrary GM actions
  • Freedom of speech: mute him if you don’t like him, but the GMs won’t ban him for offending you
  • Competition is un-consensual: even if there is no direct PvP, you need to compete for resources and spawns
  • Unfortunately: pay-to-win. I have to admit one downside of illiberal democracies: systemic corruption. Buying power items is likely unavoidable in such games.
  • Fortunately: no lootboxes. Gambling is strongly frowned upon, nationalized, heavily taxed.
  • Traditionally gendered. Intersectional feminism has no hold here, most people don’t even know what “mansplaining” means, women dress feminine way while men dress masculine.

Do you know any bigger titles developed in the former Warsaw Pact countries? They are great candidates for my next project.

Seems we have an indirect evidence against Blizzard

I noted that my idea how lootboxes motivate Blizzard to ban them based on “I hate you” false reports is a conspiracy theory, since it lacks evidence. All we know that if enough people report you for whatever (please 4chan, report everyone whose name begins with a specific letter or who plays Moira or whatever nonsense), you get banned without human investigation. With some google search, it seems to be consensus opinion among those who encountered “disruptive gameplay”.

However my logical deduction how it comes from the will to force people to switch hinges on the assumption of “has motive + mean = guilty”, while there is a simpler assumption: “they believe the community is always right, so they ban anyone who is reported”. But I can simply disprove that.

World of Warcraft has random teams like Overwatch, both game made by Blizzard. In WoW players are just as often dislike teammates as in Overwatch. In WoW there is a much lighter way of reporting: votekick. This needs the majority of the team to agree that you are disruptive, while in Overwatch if just one guy in several game hates you while the other 4 agree with you, you get banned. Also, being kicked from a single dungeon is different from being banned from the game. Ergo, Blizzard should be much more careful about bans than kicks.

Yet they do the opposite: votekick is very severely limited, if you initiate votekicks “too often” (even if they pass, so the team agrees with you), you can’t use the feature. “Too often” is such a low limit, that practically nobody has active votekick ability in WoW. So Blizzard is actively preventing people to kick others from a dungeon based on clear team vote, while they allow players to ban other players from the game with nothing but a single disgruntled fellow whining every other game. This is very self-contradictory.

The only difference is monetization. The solution is that WoW is a subscription game. If you votekick a player, you likely lose his subscription. In Overwatch, which is a pay-to-buy + shop game, Blizzard loses nothing by banning a non-switcher. Ergo, they ban them if the prospective paying players are complaining, even if the fault is theirs.

Weekend minipost: life comes to Maxim fast

I wrote: “This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.”

Maxim commented: “You love getting a big head Gevlon. Your project needs to get big enough to be a threat to Blizzard, first. Also, at this point i can’t quite imagine what they can really do about it (aside from directly harming gameplay of individual champions for indivudal maps, and they won’t do that), so what they come up with is interesting in itself.”

Life comes to my dear commenter fast:

Greetings XXX,

Blizzard Account: XXX
BattleTag: Gevlon#2566
Game: Overwatch

Action(s) Taken:
Account Suspended

Violation: Disruptive Gameplay

Your fellow players reported you for a gameplay offense that is in violation of the Blizzard EULA and/or Code of Conduct.

Suspension expires on: 2018 April 22 17:48 UTC

After analysis of the evidence, we have Suspended your Overwatch account.

As the owner of this account, you are responsible for all actions associated with it. We will only overturn penalties if there is evidence of a compromised account or similar extenuating circumstances.

If you understand this and still want to appeal our decision, please visit this article and submit a ticket.


Customer Support

You didn’t see this coming, did you! (I kind of did)

Follow the money, Overwatch edition

I have a bunch of unopened lootboxes:

It’s not some protest against vanity, I simply got skins, emotes, voices, highlight poses for all the heroes I play with (Mercy, Bastion, Symmetra, Torbjörn). The lootboxes contain 4 out of about 3000 cosmetic things, which means duplicates happen. This case you get credits that you can use to buy the stuff you want directly, instead of having to wait for RNG forever. On the one hand this is a good feature to avoid player frustration or rigging claims.

However this means that after only a few lootboxes you can buy your favorites and be done with cosmetics, having no reason to bother with the boxes anymore. Which is a problem for Blizzard, since after the initial game purchase, their income depends on lootbox purchases. You get lootboxes for playing, about one per hour, or you can buy them in the cash shop. However if you are playing with only a few heroes, you have no reason to buy anything, instead your free lootboxes will start to pile up.

This means that Blizzard is financially interested in making players play many heroes, as each hero you play is a reason to use cosmetics which is a reason to buy lootboxes. The best way to make people play many heroes is to force them by teammates. The moron who demands you to not play your 50+ hours main, but play Reinhardt despite you never did, is the best marketeer for Blizzard. If you play Reinhardt, you might buy something for him. Please note that the game – unlike League of Legends – was designed in a way to allow hero switch during match and doesn’t have any bans, exactly to make people play more heroes.

What nasty things Blizzard do to make people play more heroes? At first they have no guilds/clans. World of Warcraft – another Blizzard game – has guilds for more than a decade, I doubt if it was too much to ask for Overwatch. However WoW raiding guilds recruit roles (“looking for resto shaman and combat rogue”) because they realized the obvious that a fitting team works better. Ergo, Overwatch guilds would function the same, having shield tank, non-shield tank, melee, flanker, sniper and healer roles. A player recruited as shield tank would play two or max 3 champions and wouldn’t be asked to play healer or sniper. By not adding guilds, players are doomed to play with randoms as friends rarely fill the roster, being “asked” to fill into different roles.

The other nasty trick of Blizzard is not having scoreboard. I’m stating the obvious that anyone picking a champion with less than X hours experience is throwing the game, even if the champion is a good counter of the enemy or fits the team. A 11 min Reinhardt is less help to a team that needs a shield tank than a 50 hours Widowmaker. The lack of scoreboard hides the fact that the noob Reinhardt has miniscule damage blocked, miniscule damage and lots of deaths, while that “not teamplayer” Hanzo who “throws” has highest damage, highest eliminations and barely any deaths. This way the blame goes to those who don’t switch, even if the game is lost because of those who did. The noob Reinhardt will get praise and might buy some Reinhardt skin. Since the lack of scoreboard increases toxicity (always the bad players go toxic and we can’t silence them by pointing out their fail), Blizzard purposefully increased toxicity to increase swapping.

This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.