The Friday Inbox discusses spending £100,000 on playing mobile games, as one reader asks about Phantasy Star Online 2 in Europe.
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Some amazing figures from Nintendo lately, first the $1 billion from mobile games and then the newly confirmed success of the Switch. I know it was inevitable it would pass the Xbox One but amazing to see it manage it so easily, despite a three-year head start from Microsoft. I don’t want to get into console wars style talk though and simply say that as far as I’m concerned the Switch completely deserves its success.
Nintendo are often at their best when coming off a failure and I think the Switch is a great idea for a console and the mix of being home and portable console works perfectly. The graphics can be surprisingly good, given the price and battery length, and there’s even some decent third party support. The port of The Witcher 3 is surprisingly excellent.
The worry now is that they’ll get overconfident and do something silly/have a bad follow-up console, which always seems to be the case with them. But for now I don’t think anyone can argue they don’t deserve their success. Not only because the console and its games have been good but because so many of those games are so different and have made major hits of previously minor series like Fire Emblem and Luigi’s Mansion.
Waiting for failure
No wonder Microsoft started to put the emphasis on Game Pass and Project xCloud, given some of the results from their financials. Things are clearly not going well and I’m kind of surprised they haven’t tried to start the next generation earlier.
They’re in kind of a reverse situation to Sony last gen though, I think. All Sony had to do was not do anything stupid and just sit back and let Microsoft mess up. Now though Microsoft are making all the right moves but I don’t think they’ll make much real headway unless Sony make a big mistake. Which is entirely possible because I imagine Sony are feeling full of themselves right now.
Mind you, that mistake could be as simple as not having a proper alternative to Game Pass. Sony has a better line-up of exclusives, so they should be able to beat Microsoft easily, but something tells me they’ll hold back and Microsoft will end up as the Netflix of gaming after all. Interesting times for sure.
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The Bluepoint style
With all the talk of remakes at the moment the two I’d most like to see are Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. For me, these are two of the most important games ever, both in terms of gaming in general but also my personal childhood memories.
The thing is though I’m really not sure how you’d go about it as the 3DS remaster was very good, without changing anything major, but a full-on Bluepoint style remake might easily lose some of the charm. Super Mario 64 would be easier I think, just because it’s a game that’s not seem much today, but it’s still got lots of ideas that might seem a little overfamiliar now from all the sequels.
Ocarina Of Time is even worse because not only is it very similar to A Link To The Past but all the subsequent games owe a lot to it as well. I’d love to see it happen though. It just seems wrong to me that two such important games are very difficult to get hold of nowadays and will look very old-fashioned to new players, when at the time they came out they were completely state-of-the-art.
Price of friendship
RE: Mobile game spending. I’ll admit to spending money on mobile games, firstly a game called AFO – Avatar Fight Online. Probably about £100 over the span of two years, but I was in the #1 clan in the game, and we all chipped in during reward events when the whole clan got rewards per top up. Made some good friends playing that game, lads from Holland, Germany, and America. Many of us met up, I went to two weddings, had a few free holidays. We all still keep in touch via a WhatsApp group but none of us play the game now, I don’t even know if it’s still alive.
Secondly, a game called DragonSoul. Probably about £300 on this one. Played it daily for three years, until Gree bought it out. For those uninitiated, if Gree gets involved in a game, run for the hills. Sure enough within a year or so they closed the servers, after pumping as much money out of people as possible. I was in groups for this game on Line, and know for a fact some of the leading players were spending upwards of £1,000 a week, usually at the weekend when events were running. One of girls in my guild (we were top 10 on server six, one of 15 servers) showed us her transaction history and she’d spent over £50,000 on the game. And she was by no means the top player, she was well behind the proper whales.
Since DragonSoul closed a few years ago, I haven’t spent a penny on a mobile game, nor ever will. I don’t even download them now. The amount of times I’ve had Raid: Shadow Legends shoved in my face, it’s a miracle I haven’t even bothered. These games can get very addictive, as soon as you’re in a chatty guild, you seem to feel compelled to top up to help, and everyone else is the same. It becomes a group effort to climb the ranks.
Being part of a #1 guild was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever experienced, and that’s coming from someone that’s served in the army, had kids, lost jobs, etc. Having to constantly log in every two hours to take part in wars, try your hardest not to let anyone down, top up when events are on, etc. For a hobby, it becomes more of a job and once these games have their hooks in you, you’re doomed.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I didn’t spend any more than £500. Some, it goes into millions, literally.
GC: We’re shocked every time we see a number higher than £10 for a mobile game, incredible.
For any readers who still own a 3DS and would like a few new games Argos are currently selling a limited amount of high-profile titles with some big reductions. Interestingly Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is listed twice. One price is £11.99 and it is also listed at £29.99. I only paid the £11.99 price so unsure what Argos are doing there.
WarioWare Gold is £5.99, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a bargain at £7.99, and Super Smash Bros. For 3DS is £13.99, along with several others.
All very good prices and there is nothing like a physical copy….
Hundreds and thousands
I saw your recent story on the money being made by Nintendo but a stronger much more alarming culture is Kings Group and Fun Plus. They make the games Guns Of Glory, Kingdom Of Avalon, etc. The money they make eclipses Nintendo and the damage on people’s lives is horrific.
Try one of the games and see how luring it is. Some individuals have spent £100,000 many others tens of thousands over the past couple of years. Happy to share more information if you need it or want an anonymous quote or two. This is a global game network but from my only experience the impact to people in the UK is huge.
GC: £100,000?! We’re off at a press event today but we’ll email you next week or maybe you could do a Reader’s Feature?
When we see money made from free-to-play mobile games is that a combination of microtransaction sales and advertisement revenue?
I play Alphabear 2 quite a lot following GameCentral’s review of it and even though I have not bought anything from the in-game shop I must have made the game’s publisher a substantial amount of money in advertising revenue. Also, the frequency of advertisements has gradually increased over time.
I still play Pokémon Go too and have not bought anything in that game either. As Pokémon Go does not have any advertisements, I really have played that for free, whereas with Alphabear 2 that is not strictly true, despite not spending any of my own money.
GC: We suppose it must do, although the company will only get a percentage of the advertising revenues.
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£1,000 video game
Incredible that Nintendo has now made $1 billion from mobile games. I, like many, would love to see some N64 and GameCube games on the Switch, but I guess there isn’t any need for Nintendo to rush these out yet with the kind of cash they can generate from mobile games.
I have played the free-to-play Asphalt Legends for probably around 40 hours on the Switch since November 2019. In that time, I have spent the grand sum of £13.97 in microtransactions, so pretty great value for money. Of course, it isn’t made by Nintendo game (Gameloft), but does even paying a penny in microtransactions make me part of the problem? I personally don’t see it that way, as I enjoy playing the game and am happy to give some money back to the developers on that basis.
I have spoken to two friends about microtransactions in free-to-play games in the last fortnight and they have differing experiences. One has been playing Star Wars: Galaxy Of Heroes for months and has done well for himself without ever spending a penny. He predominantly plays it on the train.
The second has been playing Forge Of Empires, I think it is called, and was telling me that he spent £55 on it just on Sunday. He had no problem with this because he is enjoying the game but said he can’t even keep up with the people on his world map as he said they must have spent over £1,000 on the game. To qualify this, I should add that the first friend is married with two children whilst the second is single, so I think their relative disposable incomes come into play here.
Just wondering if you have heard that Sega and Microsoft have any news on Phantasy Star Online 2 coming to UK/Europe? It’s the game that got me hooked on online gaming on the Dreamcast and I really want to play this.
GC: There’s been no update that we’re aware of.
Can I just say how happy I am to see Astral Chain sold over 1 million. PlatinumGames must be show used to their games flopping I bet even they were surprised. Well done to all!
This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Franky, who asks what was your favourite game of 2019… that wasn’t released in 2019?
We’ll be running our annual Reader’s Top 20 of the year shortly but what game did you enjoy most last year that wasn’t a new release? Was it something that’s been in your backlog for a while, a game you’ve played before that you’ve returned to, or an ongoing online title that you’ve been playing for a long time?
How much of your time do you spend playing new games versus older ones and how big is your backlog at the moment? How do you rate the game in question compared to newer releases and your all-time favourites?
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