This week’s topic has been one of the most eye opening ones so far as it has given some people an opportunity to share what they are passionate about. This week I chose to talk about gaming and how essentially making a game free is beneficial for the majority in most cases.
It was interesting to have been able to involve a bit of Psychology in this week’s discussion within my post and the discussions I’ve had with my colleagues in the comments. A lot of people (including myself) tend to lose grasp on how big some business companies are (especially gaming). The business models they implement are meant to work in their favour one way or another. In the case of Free-to-Play, games like League of Legends (LoL) make full use of “Psychological loop-holes” – Jess and I talked a little bit about competitiveness and how it gives people drive to spend.
Calum and I also had a lengthy discussion about the differences between the two models (Free-to-Play and Pay-to-Play) and analysed how each have worked well within different segments of the gaming industry. Some games will only work with certain business models … apart from the ones released by established gaming companies. Some of them have really just made themselves dominant in the industry that they can do whatever they want.
The responses to my comments I made on both Andy’s and Freya’s blog posts ties well with what I can conclude in this week’s topic. Producers, gaming companies and journal article authors alike, have the right to be selfish and shouldn’t receive criticism when decisions are made to benefit them financially. However, as consumers, we have the power to influence their decisions by being in the middle of the supply and demand chain.
This week’s topic focuses around the perks and costs having your content made available for free online. I will be primarily using online gaming as an example by shedding light on the concept of Free-to-Play.
Free-to-Play (F2P) is a relatively new model adopted by the gaming industry where basically gamers are allowed to play the game without having to pay. How do the game creators make money? Through purchasable in-game perks. You may have seen this concept in Facebook games where you can buy in-game currencies such as coins. Traditionally games have been Pay-to-Play, which how most games are still nowadays such as console games XBOX, PS4 and Wii. However recently F2P games have dominated the gaming industry through games such as League of Legends and DOTA 2.
The fact that you have nothing to lose but time spent by giving a free game a try gives F2P games the edge. The model creates an exponential chain of people giving the game a try which lets other people know about it. To put it simply:
People try the game -> they let other people know about it -> more people try the game -> even more people will know about it.
Higher Potential Revenue
This straw poll created by a curious League of Legends player asked other players how much they’ve spent on the game (RP is the in-game currency used in League of Legends).
How is this business model so successful? The video below gives some insight into this matter:
Less Likely To Be Pirated
Who would want to get a pirated version of a free game?
Pay To Win
F2P games that involve buyable in-game perks that give gamers significant advantages over other gamers can potentially ruin the experience. This issue is similar to a lot of major sports in the world today where the team that has the most money will eventually be more successful. However, gaming companies have recently recognised this issue and are beginning to rectify it.
There will always be a small minority of people who would fall into the trap of not knowing when to stop spending money on anything period. Gamers are not an exception and as F2P allows gamers to ‘spend as much as they want’, it can easily turn out to be ‘spend as much as they have‘.
The tools that humans possess require an amount of responsibility to protect oneself and others involved from being harmed in any manner possible. The internet and social media in particular are no exception and there are many reasons why one should act responsibly. This has been addressed in blog posts from previous topics such as preventing yourself from being in your future employer’s “‘reject’ pile” (Andy Sugden, 2014).
A blog post by Dr. Jim Barry addresses the ethical issues faced in today’s social media marketing. One of the issues Dr. Barry mentions is Invasion of Privacy. This issue is synonymous with being anonymous on the internet which I highlighted in my previous blog post. Before the introduction of AdBlock, surfing the web was honestly a pain. Here’s what I see on Facebook now with AdBlock paused:
I had quit playing video games over the summer and I have not bought my own box of cigarettes in almost a year (was a pack a week smoker, now barely one in a month). These advertisements were tailored to match my previous addictions and without AdBlock I would’ve gone back to my old habits. Despite the annoyance, one issue that significantly troubles me the most personally are scams.
Mike Chang’s Six Pack Shortcut is one of the most popular fitness channels on youtube but it is one of the most controversial as well. His methods have been labelled as being dishonest and misleading by the use of click-bait headlines and exaggerated health facts. What a lot of people are not happy about is the fact that he is selling information that is already free. Other popular youtube fitness channels have called out on Mike Chang’s business as a scam. Some have done so professionally while others … not so much.
Having been studying Psychology for the past half decade the harm marketing scams can do are extremely underestimated. Disappointment leads to a drop in general well-being such as self-esteem and over all happiness (in extreme cases depression) and even more so for people who already are low in self-esteem (e.g. 16 year old underweight me).
Much to the controversy of classifying web users stems from Marc Prensky’s Digital natives, digital immigrants in 2001 where he categorises web users based on the idea that use and knowledge of technology is comparable to spoken language. It was thought speaking ‘tech’ could either be your mother tongue or it wasn’t.
In an article by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu titled Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement, they have identified users of the web as either Visitorsor Residents or more specifically on a continuum of the two being at each end. However White and Le Cornu didn’t just stop there.
“Our typology of Visitors and Residents turn to the metaphor of place to provide an analytic framework, but the strength of moving away from language and accent and placing the emphasis on motivation allows for a wide variety of practices which span all age groups and does not require individuals to be boxed, inexorably, in one category or the other.”
-White & Le Cornu.
What’s The Difference?
It is not that simple. I consider myself to be reasonably more equipped in using the internet as a tool than my some of my friends. However, I spend considerably less time if not at all letting people know what is on my mind on Facebook. Time spent online and technological proficiency do not matter. Nor do you hold a cemented place on the scale of being a Visitor or a Resident. I spend the majority of my time on the web as a Visitor meeting the gigantic reading demands of Psychology in Uni. I occasionally squeeze in between my work as a Resident, catching up with family and friends from the other side of the world.
As White and Le Cornu mentioned, the key term is motivation. Residents have an identity by portraying personal opinions and thoughts while Visitors do not and remain anonymous.
Though the concepts of Visitor and Resident are fairly new it does not answer the real question of who is who in the digital world. The flexibility of the two concepts negates the purpose of categorisation in the first place. One of the main reasons why there is a need for concrete categorisation is to ensure a proper education system can take place. Too much ‘not necessarilys’ will not benefit anyone moving forward.
Marc Prensky (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9 (5).
White, D., and Le Cornu, A,L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16 (9).