The head of Square Enix, Yosuke Matsuda, recently shared some of his thoughts on the state of the video game industry and the hot button topic surrounding small digital transactions within games and games as a service. We’ve also recently heard from Monster Hunter series producer, Ryozo Tsujimoto, on the state of loot boxes within games and their impact on the overall experience. Both of them are able to provide relevant opinions from inside the gaming industry and offer their take on some of gaming’s latest trends.
Square Enix released a lot of great games in 2017. At the end of 2016 they released Final Fantasy XV and continued to support it with paid downloadable episodes that expand the scope of the game. They also offered standalone expansions that more fully explore the world that Final Fantasy XV created, such as the fishing simulator, Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV, for the PlayStation VR. They also released critically acclaimed single player action role playing game, Nier: Automata and the massively multiplayer expansion, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood. Couple this with numerous ongoing mobile games and Square Enix has a lot of different experiences available for players.
“What people expect and want in a home console game is perhaps quite different from what people want in a mobile game,” said Matsuda. “The way that console games are made, the volume of content and how much effort goes into them, there’s something in that which doesn’t fit in the mind with microtransactions.
You can read the full article on USGamer.
We’ve come to expect countless options to spend money in free mobile games, some of which are designed to exploit players psychologically. 2017 saw an explosion of some of those same practices creeping into a full paid game experience. It is refreshing to see the head of Square Enix come forward and acknowledge that free to play games as a service are a much different experience than a console game, where excessive digital transactions are seen as intrusive and have the potential to alter gameplay mechanics in favor of continued spending.
For Capcom and Monster Hunter, loot boxes and digital transactions would hinder a player’s experience within the game. The game is designed with loot as a primary mechanic, after hunting a monster the player receives random crafting items, gear, and rewards. Loot boxes would take away from the experience by de-emphasizing the core gameplay and putting focus on opening loot boxes in menus away from the action.
“Our focus is on wanting to get people to play our action game and feel the kind of satisfaction that comes with the achievement you get with completing a hunt and getting rewards,” Tsujimoto said. “We want people to have the experience that we’ve made for them rather than the option to skip the experience.”
You read the interview in full on GameSpot.
Digital transactions within games are often billed as a way for the player to save time, and provide player choice through extra purchases. But consider a game like Middle-earth: Shadow of War, a game that highlights the unique nemesis system as a way to interact with enemy orcs, build relationships with them, then battle them and choose to kill them or convert them to your army. Now consider the digital transactions available in the game that allow you to purchase randomly generated orcs and automatically add them to your army, you are essentially skipping the core gameplay mechanic that the game was designed around! A mechanic that the first game in the series, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor nailed. It seems Monster Hunter: World sees the value in experiencing the game and does not want players to choose between playing the game or buying a loot box. The choice has been made, play the game because it is designed to be played.
The future of gaming might include a vast majority of free to play titles that are filled with digital transactions offering you anything from cosmetics, weapons, armor, or even the ability to skip playing part of the game deemed boring. We are already seeing these practices in many games that have been dubbed “games as services”. So far very few game designers have got it right. I still believe in a stand alone game play experience. Design a great game, tell a story, provide an emotional experience, and then go make another game that provides something different. Even though Square Enix provides many games that follow the free to play model, their CEO, Yosuke Matsuda, also believes in the value of varying experiences. Capcom’s Ryozo Tsujimoto also believes in creating a game that is fun to play. Even CD Projekt Red, developer of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, has addressed the games as a service issue and repeatedly reaffirmed their focus on creating good gaming experiences.
With people like this creating games, there will still be great experiences in the future. It also becomes even more important for Spoon Deep to provide analysis about the vast and varied types of experiences that new games can offer. If that means playing and writing about more games, then I am more than up for the challenge.
Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks