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GAMESbrief in 2013–ethics are coming front and centre

By on December 20, 2012

GAMESbrief is going to change its focus a little in 2013. At the end of 2011, David Barnes tweeted me to say: Stop arguing for F2P. That battle has been won for all who are willing to listen. Focus on how to do F2P well.

GB-profile-200

So we did. 2012 for GAMESbrief was less about polemic and more about practicality. We provided guidance and resources. We published 15 rules of F2P games and then wrapped them up into a book which you can buy from Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee. We have another book that is just as practical in the works.

That’s not enough. F2P is now mainstream, accepted and profitable. It, like all marketing, sales and game design, uses an understanding of human psychology to function. There is nothing wrong with that. However, that focus on psychology can come at the expense of fun. At the expense of ethics. At the expense of the consumer.

Won’t someone think of the kids

GAMESbrief has never been focused just on the money. The first rule of F2P design is “make it fun”. Nor have we shied away from the idea that people who love what you do should be enabled and encouraged to spend lots of money on things they truly value. True fans can absolutely spend £10,000 or more in a game and that can still be ethical.

But it might not be. The issue of how we should use our new found powers of persuasion to fund the creation of these forms of entertainment will be in 2013. For GAMESbrief, it will be one of the themes we aim to tackle head on.

  • 2011: You should do F2P games
  • 2012: You should do F2P games, here is how to do them well
  • 2013: You should do F2P games, here is how to do them well AND ethically

It’s going to be an important issue in 2013. Politicians, platform holders and developers all have a role to play. I’d rather we tackled it head on rather than pretending it isn’t an issue.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • http://twitter.com/carlodelallana Carlo Delallana

    Ethics are definitely something I personally embrace as a game designer and that’s because I refuse to see players as commodities. Designing games for me is a privilege, a dream come true. To be able to create something that people willingly spend their time and money on is very humbling. Anyone who is involved in making a game should remind themselves of this, players are willing to give up some of their finite time on this planet to engage in what you created. Your are not more important than your player.

  • http://twitter.com/Sikthehedgehog Sik

    Who wants to try to predict what will be the focus for 2014? =P

  • http://twitter.com/carlodelallana Carlo Delallana

    How real money gaming brought upon additional regulation and legislation of the videogame industry.

  • KoreanWonders

    Agreed, when players are all used to F2P, ethics will be the next frontier. Those who make unethically monetized games might find it harder and harder to maintain their business as players recognize the patterns.

  • keithw

    i applaud the discussion and look forward to contributing. i believe advocates and designers can partner to develop better voluntary standards than regulators can impose.

  • http://twitter.com/Sikthehedgehog Sik

    I think the problem will be those who will have absolutely zero interests on following said standards and just want to get as much money as possible by any means.