If you never heard of GaaS maybe you should invest some time to learn. Game as a Service, or GaaS, is the latest craze on mobile and they are all hurrying to learn what it takes.

Some games implemented GaaS and made a mediocre launch a huge success. Like Rainbow Six Siege, which meanwhile is called the best tactical team shooter of the planet having over 30m players. OR GTA V, which, despite its age, is closing on selling 100m.

Maybe you don't know the fun part of GaaS. The lessons you need were defined over 20 years ago, by a game called Ultima Online. And the developers spread the knowledge of their experience on GDC. Just check Raph Kosters talks and articles here.

So sometimes I feel walking in the past when advising clients on what GaaS means to their development and company.


My next talks & conferences

April/May is crazy. Too many conferences - all inviting me for f2p talks. So here is my schedule for now:

Week April 23rd: Quo Vadis, a talk about "Meta Games" and moderating a fireside chat with Lord British. See https://qvconf.com/

Week May 8th: Oulu, Finnland, there is half a day a public workshop about the Crazy App Store and More, organized by Fingersoft.

Week May 21st: Digital Dragons, talking about Product Strategy and how it decides your chances of success. See http://digitaldragons.pl/

Week May 23rd, GDD Frankfurt, talking about raising ARPPU/Conversion, the complete version: https://www.germandevdays.com/

Week May 29th, Casual Connect London, again raising APPU/Conversion, see http://europe.casualconnect.org/

and finally Develop in Brighton, talking about Lootboxes: https://www.developconference.com/

Phew. A lot, and I guess the next will be Devcom/Gamescom, but my talk isn't confirmed yet.


This industry never learns

I do remember back when I launched Panzer Elite in 1999 - a WW2 simulation, but tanks. The same year over 30 (!) flight simulations were released - each one trying to hit the gold mine.

And this wave of followers to hit games was repeated over and over again. Why don't they learn? Remember the MOBA fiasco? A grave of games in the past years. So here goes another:


Just 11 mentioned I know a couple more.

and I agree here:


DO NOT FOLLOW THE HITS. Unless you are fast and good. OR different, very different. A new setting won't cut it.


Industry going conservative again

Consoles selling sub $200 (minus the Pro's) - entering last half of their cycle. 2019 will be hard for larger studios. So be prepared that publishers turn conservative not signing risky or expensive products next year as they already invest heavily in the next generation (it already shows this year).
So please, either split your studio into sizable teams working on multiple lower budget products or resize - yes, this means downsizing is a valid strategy.
Take the free advice, it happened before and will happen again.
The over 10-year-old talk describing the cycles can be found here:


One of PC's best games of all time

I feel honored. Really. And yes its one of my career highlights I designed, with my own company Wings Simulations I sold in 2000. And it had a tremendously long shelf life and still can be found today sometimes for €5-10. The long shelf life is due to the community - and because we gave the source code of the entire project to them. That was a first back then ...



MTX & Loot Boxes - Discussion still going on

As written in my last post the Loot box controversy is still active - and getting worse. It is interesting to follow the press, customers outrage, and publishers answers. Battlefront II and their loot box system even created the most downvoted thread ever on Reddit.

The main reason is that players paying $60+ for an AAA title do not feel eager to be forced to pay via MTX to gain significant important items or unlocks in the game. So EA responded by lowering the needed "grind" to unlock important characters by 75%.

See, that's where the problem lies. Users paid upfront and expect the complete game. They don't want to pay to unlock content (and let's not forget day 1 DLC's). The rule of F2P that content has to be free all the time was violated somewhat.  That's one point, that they didn't implement the Loot Boxes right.

My second point is one I said often during my talks when Loot Boxes came up, like here:

If you add Loot Boxes as MTX you admit your normal monetization system failed - unless your core mechanic of the game is Loot Boxes. Like Hearthstone. Clash Royale. Or Puzzle & Dragons. You will notice that these games never came up during those discussions. Or why do Overwatch Lootboxes do not spawn that controversy? Think about it.

Basically, EA admitted their AAA retail flat fee model of $60 for an AAA game is declining, isn't making enough money to return a sizable profit so they add MTX. 

Many games did this but EA of course brutally forced the MTX system on their game going over the top - while other games do it more wisely - as you should do too. Check out GTA V and their online Revenue, or even Assassins Creed IV Black Flag where I was part of the design team of the MTX system. They never had the backlash EA is feeling. 

There are signs on the horizon that the old AAA model is dying. PC revenue is rising but most of that us on the F2P or MTX side, the AAA revenue is not growing compared to previous years. Even console $60 sales are stagnant to previous years or growth curves of previous generations. 

It has come so far that AAA publishers contact me to teach them how to implement MTX correctly so the community accept it and it still raises revenue.

So AAA games feverishly try to adapt f2p methods to raise their profits to cover the ever-increasing development costs - and most of these teams never worked in F2p. They need help. Call me if you need to educate your teams. You can add MTX to your AAA title which players actually love to engage in. Loot Boxes aren't the answer. Believe me. Been there, done that.


MTX in Destiny 2 and Shadows of Mordor 2 - Scandal?

So the web is alive with discussions about micro transactions in Destiny 2 or the upcoming Shadows of Mordor. Players don't like MTX shops in games they paid $60 for.

But this trend has been here since years. Ubisoft did MTX in the Assassins Creed series. Heck, I was part of the design team who did the MTX for AC IV Black Flag.

The MTX in retail games are adding revenue by x% (I can't reveal the number here, sorry). Publishers need this as games development becomes more and more expensive. Triple AAA products are 50m, 100m even sometimes more than 200m in development. So how many copies do you need to sell to achieve a return on investment? Roughly 3.5 million. That doesn't include marketing yet. Or other costs you need on top like HR, Management, Accounting etc.

So integrating f2p mechanics to raise revenue is perfectly fine.

Also, remember not everyone has hours each day to play those games, but really want to catch up with their friends to raid (like in Destiny) or to see the end, or unlock game modes etc. Why not pay for this service? It's not an alien concept.

Engaged fans of a series are able to spend $99 or more for collectors editions, season passes etc. but complain about some $ spending in game. This is all about perception by seeing a shop symbol in a retail game.

Rarely I have seen this complaint in GTA V. But they do like 700m per year on that. Hmmm.

We "F2P" people saw these trends coming years ago and it will get more intense soon. As the price wars are on and soon you will see AAA games being released for $60 and years after release being made free as their in game MTX mechanics make enough revenue. I have seen it, I know clients working on exactly this with their AAA IP.

So get used to it. It won't vanish and will get more expanded upon - until AAA products finally surrender and will be free ;)