How F2P games exploit your brain

Not all free-to-play games are trojan horses, expertly fashioned to work their way into your habits and drain your bank account. But many are, and virtual economist Ramin Shokrizade has detailed their mechanics in a GamaSutra blog post that is as fascinating as it is stomach turning.

Shokrizade argues there are two different kinds of free-to-play games: skill games and money games. In the former, your ability to advance is mostly dependent on making good decisions. In the latter, your ability to advance is mostly dependent on how much money you spend.

How do they convince you to spend money? One of Shokrizade's favorite examples is "fun pain:" putting your players in an uncomfortable situation, and offering them a way out via cash--like when Puzzle & Dragons lets you avoid losing all the treasure you earned by spending $1 worth of "gems" to get back up.

"If the shift from skill game to money game is done in a subtle enough manner, the brain of the consumer has a hard time realizing that the rules of the game have changed," Shokrizade writes. "If done artfully, the consumer will increasingly spend under the assumption that they are still playing a skill game and 'just need a bit of help.'"

It's a booming market, but there's still money to be made from more savvy consumers. As awareness spreads, hopefully more F2P games will appeal to the latter.

"In the current market, especially with most adults and children not familiar with the nature of these products, the environment is still ripe for fast profits, and likely will continue to be so for a few more years. Note that while these methods can be very successful with young and inexperienced gamers, they find less success with older and more experienced gamers, and this population represents a group with potentially very large gaming budgets."

Source:How F2P games exploit your brain

Microsoft drops fees for updating Xbox 360 games

Microsoft no longer charges developers for title updates to Xbox 360 Arcade Games. Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb confirmed via Twitter that as of April 2013 the company stopped the fees, which notoriously led the creators of games like Fez and Iron Brigade to eschew updates.

Microsoft originally allowed XBLA developers one title update gratis, but stipulated a $40,000 fee for each recertification after that point. Eurogamer reports that Microsoft reserves the right to charge if a developer excessively resubmits its game. Its anonymous developer sources also say the elimination of fees extends to retail releases as well as XBLA.

Fez creator Phil Fish tweeted that he plans to get in touch with Microsoft to see if the change is retroactive. That could finally bring the original Xbox 360 version in line with the PC edition of Fez, which launched in May.

Source:Microsoft drops fees for updating Xbox 360 games

Longtime id Software president/CEO leaves studio

id Software president Todd Hollenshead has departed after 17 years with the company. Hollenshead was formerly CEO of the studio which produced the Doom and Quake franchises, though his position changed when the company was bought out by Bethesda parent ZeniMax Softworks in 2009.

"After many years with the studio, Todd Hollenshead decided to leave id Software to pursue other personal interests," Bethesda VP of marketing Pete Hines told IGN. "While Todd was not part of the development teams, he was an integral part of id Software’s success as the business head of the studio and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."

id's had a rough couple of years since joining the ZeniMax family: long-awaited shooter Rage was poorly received and Doom 4 has reportedly mired in development hell for years.

Source:Longtime id Software president/CEO leaves studio

WeareData shows Watch Dogs' info gathering in reality

Watch Dog's cyberpunk fiction of a near future Chicago isn't all that fictional, Ubisoft shows in a captivating promotional site for the game. Don't worry, it's not an assortment of moody trailers or obtuse ARG puzzles--in fact WeareData is our reality, right now.

The site collates data from a variety of publicly available sources, from public bike stations to train schedules to geotagged Instagram posts. Displayed atop a 3D wireframe of London, Paris, or Berlin, the data provides a living representation of the cities.

Is the information shocking, a chilling picture of surveillance states gone wrong? Eh, it's more like Google Maps with a couple extra layers and a moody soundtrack. Still, consider our interest thematically piqued for playing around with Chicago's city operating system.

Watch Dogs is set to release on November 19 for PC, PS3, Wii U, and Xbox 360, and at launch for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Source:WeareData shows Watch Dogs' info gathering in reality