Saturday, February 02, 2013

Founder's Program Trend in Gaming

After the trend of Kickstarting a game which is still running quite well until now, game devs are starting another trend which worries me quite a bit, Founder's Programs. Plenty of games has done this namely Path of Exile, Firefall, Marvel Heroes, Neverwinter, and some others I might have forgotten. Is this really a good practice? what are the advantage and disadvantages of this program? could it be improved? let's explore about this a bit.

My views on this kin of program is a bit mixed. In one side I understand the need for some additional funding when the game is still being developed but on the other hand consumers are really just buying a cat in a bag. You have no guarantee that the game's going to be good, all you know is that it looks interesting and then you spend at the very least a few bucks or worse around $200 for something that you might not like when it's released.

I'm not a really skeptical or cynical gamer, but it does seem a bit wasteful to spend money on an unreleased, untested product(at least untested by yourself). Games are things that you yourself must decide whether you like it or not. Reviews and Impressions might help shape your opinions but in the end, it's up to your personal preference whether you like a game or not. And how can you decide that you like a game when you've never even played the game?

This is what makes this whole Founder's Program trend seeming a bit disingenuous to me. It forces(or at the very least encourages) you to spend money on something you don't even know. What's worse is that people usually buy Founder's Packs to be able to test the game. This is ridiculous, people should be able to test the game first and then decide whether they want to try it or not.

Look, I understand it's also about supporting the developer, in trusting that the developers can create the game that you want. but seriously, the least they could do is let you guys try it out a little bit. A Beta Weekend maybe before starting the Founder's Program. As it stands now, Founder's Program seems more like a gamble to me. You pay something and then you HOPE that the game turns out good. What if it doesn't? I suppose it's ok if you only buy the cheapest pack but what if you paid for the more expensive pack which usually costs around $200?

Even then, it's still almost a lose-lose scenario. If you bought the expensive pack and the game turns out to be crap, you lose. But if you bought the cheapest pack and the game turns out to be great you still lose because you'll think to yourself that you should've bought the more expensive pack.

These kinds of pack also creates a more biased community where they idolizes the devs, even when they've done it wrong. It's understandable, because when you've spent $200 on something you'd have to justify everything the dev has done so that you don't have to tell yourself that you've just lost $200 for a piece of garbage right?

And of course it's not always like that. I've seen great games using this kind of program, but for how long will this continue? Sooner or later there'll be a game dev who will drop the ball. Sooner or later people will realize that this a gamble.

Now after that long ramble on why I am war of this kind of program I do realize that there is also advantages to this program, especially for smaller developers who doesn't have a lot of funding. With this kind of program, smaller devs can have the funding they need to continue working on the game and to continue supporting the game in the future. It is a good thing for the devs, of course. And for players, they also have the chance to be more involved on the game. And hey, they have the chance to play it before other gamers. But the disadvantages still stands, it is a gamble.

So how should we react to this? should we refuse to buy every founder's pack for any game? of course not. What the devs should realize is that they should give more incentive for players so tat they want to buy the packs. Give people access to the game, make a beta weekend BEFORE selling the packs. Give us more reason to like the game. And hey, if the devs are really interested in making a really great game, what're they afraid of? let us try the game before deciding to throw our money into it. At least, this is what I think. What do you guys think?

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