"We have to bring them in and keep them addicted and make them keep playing."

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lizwool
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"We have to bring them in and keep them addicted and make them keep playing."
Settlers Online dev: "Monetize all weakness"

Jaz McDougall | News | 19/08/2010 10:51am

Speaking at GDC Europe, Teut Weidemann, design lead on Settlers Online, reckons that to succeed with a Free-To-Play game you need to aggressively target your customers' weaknesses. "We have to bring them in and keep them addicted and make them keep playing." I thought this was the sort of thing you worried about journalists overhearing.

Brandon Sheffield at Gamasutra went to town on this, where developers and industry types have started to chime in on the comments. I'm not surprised. Weidemann relates the sorry predicament of free to play games having to "think about making a fun game and monetizing it at the same time," which he describes as "a huge burden."

What follows is a list of handy hints for exploiting the weaknesses in your customer base so they'll break down and pay, somewhat loosely themed around the seven deadly sins. If you make a grindy game, you can charge the slothful to speed up their levelling process. Put PvP in your game and sell combat advantages to rake in the cash from the wrathful. Offer fancy hats and dresses to exploit your users' vanity. It gets a bit tenuous when he starts talking about the lustful and how they want everything right now, so you should sell them reduced build times for infantry. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

Finally, Weidemann's colleague Christopher Schmitz pipes up with this choice nugget:

"Game design is not about game design anymore, now it's about business. If you think you have the same items for this year and next year, you're wrong. You have to change everything like in the Superstore."

As one commenter said, "At least he's honest."

http://www.pcgamer.com/2010/08/19/settlers-online-dev-monetize-all-weakness/

[color=blue]Gaming-site links removed by Admin[/color]

Liz Woolley

McPhee
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If game developers knowingly

If game developers knowingly include addictive elements in games, how are they different from the tobacco companies that did the same with nicotine?

Why shouldn't games be hit with sin taxes like booze and coffin nails? Why shouldn't their makers be hit with class-action lawsuits?

Why aren't we members of Olga engaging in political activism in addition to our work in mutual self-help in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our society from profiteers who happily sacrifice their customers' well-being in exchange for money?

Why is what they're doing okay?

John of the Roses
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Exploiting Human Sin "We are

Exploiting Human Sin

"We are monetizing all the weakness of people," Weidemann says, turning his talk toward the seven biblical sins, and how these can be turned into hard cash.

Vanity. "I'm the best. That's something they want to have," he says. But players need to be able to see their posing and posturing, which is usually difficult in a strategy game, where seeing what the other player has could be perceived as an advantage. In Settlers Online the game allows players to see their friends, but in a controlled environment. Here, they monetize avatars and guild creation.

Envy. "To make this succeed, the player has to see his neighbor's possessions," says Weidemann, noting that in China it's popular to steal items from other players. "I believe that in the next few years we'll see some game that does this well in the West," he said. "And then everybody will steal, and this will be a lot of fun."

Gluttony. Here, the aim is to get players to consume more. Make consumables (such as healing potions in a traditional MMORPG) available, and then sell them directly. "It's an indirect timesaver," he says. "If you upgrade a building to the next level, it takes time and resources, but you can buy an instant upgrade," he says.

Lust. In Settlers Online, this is measured by instant gratification. Instead of waiting, the player can unlock what they want immediately. "[This kind of player] is easy to monetize," Weidemann says, "because everything instant, that's what he wants." Examples include instantly recruiting troops, instead of having to wait for them.

Anger. "You hate your enemy, that's something we're gonna monetize," he says. This type of player is one of the simplest to exploit, because they will want all the best items right away, in order to defeat other players. Games can sell them this at the onset, and give them paid access to better battle reports, and more experienced units. It should be noted that Settlers Online does not force PvP, which is how weaker players who may not be interested in that can enjoy the game in this sort of environment.

Greed. This includes housing production increases or buffs. "The trader is someone who's sensible for unfairness. So if he wants to be wealthy, he doesn't want to buy [gold] directly," says Weidemann, because then it doesn't feel like an achievement. "Never directly sell gold to the player -- it must be indirect."

Sloth. This is represented by avoidance of work. Players are lazy, he says, so sell comfort. Sell extensions to buildings, and automizations for repair and overproduction handling. "You're saving clicks. That's all you do. And if he pays for that, why not?

"There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative." --W. Clement Stone

lizwool
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Thanks John.  We need to

Thanks John. We need to put this in our Golden Oldies Section!

McPhee - that is what I have been saying all along - they are no better than drug pushers, getting their own customers addicted so they can make more money! Wake up WORLD!!!!

Liz Woolley

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If individual members of

If individual members of OLGA want to engage in political activism on their own, they can, but OLGA does not take a stand on these issues, and political activism in the name of OLGA could jeopardize our 501c3 status.

I do agree with you, McPhee, but OLGA cannot.

"Small service is true service while it lasts.  Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one

The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,

Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun." -------William Wordsworth

McPhee
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Gamersmom: OLGA is doing

Gamersmom: OLGA is doing plenty and I have no interest in criticizing it or you. However, you may be mistaken that it's not possible for a 501c3 to be politically active. A non-profit can do plenty to encourage political change without jeopardizing its tax-free status with the IRS. My impression is that the line is gray and broad and there are a number of criteria and limitations but, generally, a non-profit can safely engage in education and information activities as long as it's not recommending for or against specific political candidates or pending legislation. This could include, for instance, a letter, informational brochure or even a regular newsletter mailed or emailed to any or all federal, state and local elected officials. Many nonprofits go further and employ paid lobbyists to visit legislators and others and keep them informed about issues. Often these activities occur while legislators are considering relevant legislation. And, of course, a great deal can be done with public relations and attempting to generate media coverage that educates and informs the ordinary voter.

If none of that makes any sense, consider this: The National Rifle Association, which is probably the single most effective lobbying organization around today, is a non-profit. It's a 501c4, not a 501c3, but it maintains many of the tax-free advantages while freeing itself to address specific legislation and candidates. And you can do all the stuff above while remaining a 501c3.

Caveat: I'm not an attorney. But, if you were interested in deploying some of OLGA's assets, whatever those may be, in the interest of changing the way the law treats gaming companies, I think if you look further into it you'll find that the door is not quite as firmly closed as you seemed to suggest. If you're not interested, I can certainly understand. Trying to change a society and the laws that govern it is generally a long, difficult and frustrating process and not to be taken on lightly. I'd like to see it happen with regard to excessive gaming, whether or not OLGA is the organization to lead that effort. Meanwhile, of course, OLGA is doing plenty and, in fact, as far as I can tell is easily the best and perhaps the only organized online mutual help resource for excessive gamers. McPhee

John of the Roses
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If I may? This website is

If I may?

This website is Olganon.org, and follows the 12 traditions of OLGA/OLG-Anon, to mention a couple here:

5. The group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the excessive gamer who still suffers.

6. The OLGA / OLG-Anon group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OLGA / OLG-Anon name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

10. Online Gamers Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the OLGA / OLG-Anon name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

Olga/OLG-Anon World Services Inc, is a 501C3 Organization which clearly sees as part of its future vision, educating the public as to the impact excessive online gaming has. That Organization will more frequently as time goes on, be confronted by the media and will have to generate politically-correct statements to use.

One thing you might not realize is that neither OOWS or Olganon.org blames the games. Never has. Never will. Some persons left to their own devices may speak out in their grief that they blame a game in particular, but we as a Fellowship & an Organization have no opinion on these outside issues.

"There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative." --W. Clement Stone

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It can't be too long before

It can't be too long before a prominent person makes it their campaign. Someday soon, a person in the public eye, or with access to political clout, will experience and truly understand how damaging video games are for their spouse or child. They will strike up the band and urge others to get on the bandwagon. Maybe it will be a U.S. Congressional member, or a U.S. Senator, or maybe it will be even be a British Prime Minister, or a U.S. President...it will happen. It's only a matter of time. Remember what Betty Ford did for alcoholism?

"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself." Albert Einstein

"You don't get to choose how you are going to die. Or when.
You can only decide how you are going to live. Now." Joan Baez

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Good read; publisher was

Good read; publisher was honest, at least. The comments in the article by gamers sort of surprise me; games have always cashed in on sin (Isn't saving the princess an allusion to lust?) but I think this is the first time a company admitted it.

For the political advocation: Awareness of the issue that game addiction exists would be good; ultra-restrictive laws or outright banning of games would horribly backfire.

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Yeah, I figured it would be

Yeah, I figured it would be a waste of effort. But I still had to make it.

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I disagree with the idea

I disagree with the idea suing and blaming someone else. I knew ahead of time that gaming could be addicting and I did it anyway. I know lots of other people who play the same games and don't get addicted at all.

If individuals in society don't take responsibility for their actions then you end up with a mess of bickering lawyers and no one to complete the real work that makes a society prosperous. Some people get addicted to endorphines from excercise. Campaign against Gold's Gym for aching joints! Some people take too much caffeine. Campaign against Red Bull for headaches! Some mountain climbers spend thousands of dollars on gear and thousands of hours attempting to climb higher and more dangerous mountains. Campaign against Northface! Some people can't stop hoarding junk in ther backyard. Campaign against Goodwill second hand stores! Ban soft drinks for making us unhealthy! Ban Marajuana! - hehe oops, already did that :-) Ban movie theaters! Ban fantasy football! Ban dirt bikes!

After all the suing, taxing, and banning, the dust will settle and we'll be left behind by countries that encouraged their industries to grow. We'll also be less free to enjoy many aspects of life that our parents did. Companies and innovation will sputter, the government will have control over every last inch of our lifes, and we'll be worrying less about who to sue and more about where the next meal will come from. I'm not saying that this is the result of just game banning, but I am saying that if we continue down that path with all aspects of our lives, the end result won't be pretty.

While it's true that some regulation is necessary, I think in it would be a mistake to do so in the instance of gaming.

Ruya makes an excellent point - making people aware of the possible addictive nature of games will accomplish nearly the same thing as banning games and at the same time it give those people who don't have an addictive nature the freedom to enjoy a hobby they like. It also lets gaming companies continue innovation which benefits our society in lots of indirect ways that we rarely think about (artificial intelligence, computer graphics, cinema, medical computing, astronomy, etc...)

In the end... wasting my time/money on gaming was no one else's fault but MINE. while (1) { bangHead(here); }

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Ph0t0n wrote: In the end...
Ph0t0n wrote:

In the end... wasting my time/money on gaming was no one else's fault but MINE. while (1) { bangHead(here); }

If a company has data that their product is harmful because they have logged in how much customers pay and waste their time, then don't you think the company has responsibility to warn their customers?

If a company has data of harmful effects, but fail to act resulting in a generation of sick people, then who pays the bill for treatment?

I am sure there are million of parents who are shocked that their kids flunked out of college due to gaming, who didn't know that a "game" could cause a life-long addiciton.

Andrew Doan MD PhD

My Videos: Internet gaming disorder is real & my story 

*The views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.

Kate1song
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mudphud wrote: Ph0t0n
mudphud wrote:
Ph0t0n wrote:

In the end... wasting my time/money on gaming was no one else's fault but MINE. while (1) { bangHead(here); }

If a company has data that their product is harmful because they have logged in how much customers pay and waste their time, then don't you think the company has responsibility to warn their customers?

If a company has data of harmful effects, but fail to act resulting in a generation of sick people, then who pays the bill for treatment?

I am sure there are million of parents who are shocked that their kids flunked out of college due to gaming, who didn't know that a "game" could cause a life-long addiciton.

Amen to that Mud. I chatted with my brother on the phone for about 30 minutes a few weeks ago. His son just graduated from high school and will be heading for college in the fall. As far as I remember he's had a bit of difficulty in school. I don't think good grades came easily for him, and now he's going off to a different part of the state with no parental oversight. I could see him easily falling into the gaming trap. When I discussed it with my brother, (not the above, just a suggestion that he warn my nephew about the dangers of excessive gaming) he pretty much just shrugged me off.

My other nephew, a really bright kid, flunked out twice. He's a heavy gamer.

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OLGA as a fellowship stays

OLGA as a fellowship stays away from these issues. It's hard enough to recover from gaming addiction. *As a fellowship*, we can't afford to spend *any* time or energy on anything but supporting people to recover. (Hence the Traditions.)

That being said, we are all individuals, have lives (now that we've stopped gaming), have influence and various capacities and resources which we might choose to use to address issues. One can do a lot of good by bringing awareness to people, interrupting fraudulent business activities, etc.

Personal opinion:

Yes, gaming companies and the people who work for them are as responsible as the tobacco companies that add extra nicoteine just so that people will be more addicted. It's evil. Not everything that's evil can be made illegal, but standing up and saying it's evil is often worth doing.

We (try to) keep porn out of the hands of young kids, and it's against our society's rules to provide it, and things like cigarettes and alcohol, to minors. Yet we provide them with games that glorify murder, mayhem, destruction and that are specifically designed to be addictive. I personally think that getting kids to actually participate in simulated murder is a lot more damaging and soul-destroying than watching some sex. But however you look at it, in our society we (try to) keep dangerous, damaging, addictive stuff away from kids, even if it's legal for adults. There's plenty of precedent.

I can't afford to spend any of my energy on advocacy, because I'm struggling to recover and help a few others, and that's hard enough right now. But I have great respect for those who are taking up this battle. And someone *will* sue these companies one day and win. Or at least have enough of a chance of winning to make them pay. And that will be a new day, and it will create some progress on the front end. For me, I'm going to keep working on the back end, which is obviously what my job is at the moment.

I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.

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"I knew it could be

"I knew it could be addictive, but I chose it, so it's my fault."

That seems to be a theme song. I knew alcohol could be addictive (lots of alkies in the family), I knew cigarette smoking could be addictive, I didnt know games could be addictive, but so what?

The real point is not whether it's my fault or not, it's whether I am or not. If I am addicted to something, the main thing is to stop doing whatever it is I'm doing so that I can live a decent, happy life.

Hence, recovery.

That's all that matters to me now: recovery.

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