Let’s Get Pissy About In-Game Subscriptions (The Jimquisition)


♪ Oh White’s Lemonade ♪ ♪ I’m a secret lemonade drinker ♪ ♪ Oh White’s ♪ ♪ Born different ♪ ♪ Born innocent ♪ ♪ Born perfect ♪ ♪ I’m not like you, I’m a ♪ ♪ Born lover ♪ – Sometimes as I sit in quiet reflection having an introspective
moment, I think to myself YouTube’s a big bucket of shit! Take, for example, what
happened over the past weekend. We’d set up a sub-channel, ’cause a lotta people requested it, they said, “Well, some of your stuff “doesn’t get a whole bunch of views “and you’re worried that
might tank the main channel “because of the almighty algorithm, “so you should make a sub-channel “and you could put your
podcasts and stuff on there.” So we did, we made a sub-channel and we put podcasts on there and over the weekend Google terminated it. And I got an email from YouTube saying that there were multiple
community violations on it, which could include spam or
fraud or misleading content. And I appealed it and
said, at the very least, tell me what the content
was that was so bad. What did we do that was so naughty? And they sent an email back
just sayin’ they’re gonna uphold the termination
and that’s literally it. So I still don’t know what we did wrong but that’s just another
reminder of what a constant stress-inducing nightmare
it is to work on YouTube. So, you know, here I am on the cover of an official
copy of “Deadly Premonition”. There’s only, like, 10
of these in the world so YouTube can’t take that from me! Fuckin’, it’s almost like YouTubers should unionize or something! In all seriousness, I do not have much of a dog in the race
with that sub-channel. It was getting a couple hundred views, it was literally a few people that prefer to listen to podcasts on YouTube instead of SoundCloud
or Spotify or iTunes, where the “Podquisition”
podcast is readily available, as is “Boston’s Favorite Son”, a hilarious podcast that
isn’t actually funny at all, starring myself and Conrad Zimmerman and Jonathan Off Road Rules. But, you know, it’s just, it’s more annoying than anything else that I literally don’t know
what was wrong with it. And that’s YouTube in a nutshell, no one knows what the
fuck’s wrong with it! Anyway, this guff. You may not be able to count on a video game publisher for much, but you can always trust them to adopt a new money-making method as quickly and enthusiastically as possible. In fact, publishers appear
to be far less interested in making video games as they
are hubs of monetization. Minimum viable products that exist purely to shake down customers
for extra cash in addition to what they’ve already paid
to access said products. From DLC to microtransactions to season passes to
silver and gold editions, video games are always bolstering their monetization techniques
with fresh awfulness, desperately glomming onto whatever get richer quicker scheme they can. Not to please you the customer, never you the customer, but shareholders. The Skeksis. It’s becoming quite clear
that the latest ploy to grab publisher attention
is the subscription model. By no means a new idea, this concept of a perpetual payment
plan for continued access has seen new vigor in the
age of the online service. Ever since popular MMOs
like “World of Warcraft” demonstrated you could get away with charging money for a game
people already bought, publishers have had wet
dreams about grabbing some of that recurring user
spending for themselves. Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t room on top of the mountain
for every MMO to succeed and the gold rush saw far more losses than wins in the market. MMOs, in my opinion, were rarely, if ever, good value prospects for players, most of them aren’t even
good games to begin with, are limited in scope and repetitive and full of other monetization methods, but the popular ones were,
of course, mega successful. Subscription models have
come back in a major way during the latter half of this decade and corporations around the
world want in on the action. Subscriptions for access
to streaming television, kicked off largely by Netflix, is steadily becoming the new cable TV. As entertainment companies are moving away from unified services to offering their own bespoke channels, for a fee. From HBO to Disney to Starz to Shudder to even fuckin’ Full Moon Studios! Yes, the “Puppet Master” people. It seems every TV channel, every
movie company wants a slice of that recurrent revenue
pie all to themselves, and it kinda fuckin’ sucks. Just having Netflix or
Amazon Prime or Hulu or any combination of those
three ought to be enough, but no, companies don’t like sharing and are intent on twisting and breaking any emergent business model so it resembles an older business model, a model in which they get to
make and keep all of the money. Though, funnily enough it’s
encouraging piracy in some cases because the market has proven
that it pays for convenience. When music became available
in a unified format on iTunes, music piracy went down
because it was more convenient to pay for it on iTunes. But access to content is
getting inconvenient again. It’s now hard to keep track of what TV show you can
watch on what service. And Disney pulled a
major boner with Disney+, not making it available
in certain countries, which is a little counterproductive when companies like Disney have relied on FOMO, fear of missing out, to get people to pack out theaters and jump immediately on
their latest releases. Consequently, the
much-hyped Disney+ exclusive “The Mandalorian” was
pirated within three hours. Given the lack of a worldwide
rollout for Disney+, coupled with its breeding of FOMO, Disney has no one else to
blame but it’s fucking self. And, really, if media
piracy as a whole makes a major comeback, it’s on
all of those corporate heads, because the moment you
make piracy more convenient than paying for content,
people are gonna pirate. (pirate babbling) Anyway, I went on a wild tangent there. Where were we? Right, we were talking about, like, all of the content being
carved up into little fiefdoms. Basically, what used to be a cool idea is probably going to suck
harder over the next few years as the content’s carved
up and we’re expected to pay more money, probably more overall than one already pays for cable, to access all of our shit. “The Mandalorian” isn’t
even all that good. Anyway, despite MMOs having
died down considerably since the early portion of the decade, the idea of subscription
services for individual games is looking set to make a comeback in a way that leaves something of a sour taste. In a previous video, we
discussed subscription services that provide access to multiple games and streaming platforms, such
as the utterly bereft of value Google’s Stadia Pro plan or
Electronic Arts’ EA Access stuff that provides benefits to
customers across multiple titles. Today we’re looking at recent
MMO-style subscriptions tied to individual games that the era of the live service has reinvigorated. As more games become perpetual
always online experiences, the line between regular products and MMO has well and truly blurred. Blurred just enough for subscriptions to start sneaking their way back in while taking on a variety of forms. The Battle Pass has
been one major success, something else we’ve
talked about in the past. And I don’t necessarily
have a problem with them if they’re done right and
they are in appropriate games, say free-to-play ones. The ridiculous worldwide
success of “Fortnite” allowed Epic Games to mainstream the idea of a premium service that
offered additional benefits to those who stump up the cash. The typical Battle Pass model
as codified in “Fortnite” takes the form of extra
gameplay challenges that reward players with new items such as cosmetics and emotes. Commonly, Battle Passes last
four individual seasons, making them timed events
that encourage players to continue playing in order to make good on their investments. And this, of course, means they
can sell another Battle Pass when the next season rolls
in, effectively making it a piecemeal subscription. Other video games, ones that aren’t free-to-play like “Fortnite”,
have been plenty eager to copy the Battle Pass system. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”
now has a Battle Pass, though the system had
been delayed to December, quite some time after
the actual game launched. And while that delay was
supposedly unplanned, it is sorta par for the
course for Activision. Sell the game first, shovel
the monetization in later. “Destiny 2” helped itself
to the idea as well with world-changing seasons
running every three months. When last I talked about Battle Passes, I said we can expect to see publishers take an enthusiastic interest in them, and that certainly seems
to be the case so far. But here’s the problem with Battle Passes from a publisher’s perspective: they take a lot of effort
and ingenuity to maintain! You need to keep coming up with challenges and content and events and rewards. For some companies that’s
just gonna be way too much for the creatively-bankrupt hack fucks to want to bother with. Speaking of
creatively-bankrupt hack fucks, Bethesda has provided an adequate example of what we may very well be
seeing more of in the future. (thumping electronic music) “Fallout 76” is a trash video game. I think I’ve emphasized that
more than enough times by now, but I still like emphasizing it because “Fallout 76” is a
fuckin’ trash video game! A so-called live service taking place in a mostly lifeless world. The broken, buggy, threadbare,
distinctly undercooked game introduced the Fallout 1st
premium subscription service this year and it’s about as garbage as the rest of “Fallout 76’s” bullshit. In a theme common for most methods of video game monetization,
Fallout 1st offered a number of solutions to problems
Bethesda developed on purpose and offered things the community
had requested for a while at the princely sum of $100 a year! $100 a year! 12 fucking 99 a month! A hundred bucks, though? No Lickitung! Licki licki what? Anyway, in exchange for
$100 a year subscription to a game that isn’t even worth the upfront 60 buck asking price, Fallout 1st offers private servers, unlimited scrap storage,
an extra-fast travel point, a monthly drip feed of premium currency, alongside some emotes
and an NCR Ranger outfit. This is on top of the microtransactions that are already in the game, those ones that were
supposed to be just cosmetic but have steadily included more and more gameplay-affecting
items as time’s gone on, because they think you’re stupid
and that you won’t notice. Naturally, because Bethesda is Bethesda and Bethesda is Bethetic, Fallout 1st was utterly broken on launch. The private servers were
not in actuality private and the unlimited scrap storage
actually ate people’s scrap, eradicating paying customers’ resources like they were a whole bag of Lickitungs! I know I’ve talked about the failure of the Fallout 1st launch before, but it just hasn’t stopped
being amazing to me, the sheer bottomless pit that
is Bethesda’s ineptitude. But Bethesda’s never-ending laughability isn’t the point here, the
point here is the potential this has for normalizing
idea that $60 games will feature premium subscription
services going forward, in addition to previous methods of a monetization shoveled in, because it’s rarely ever
an instead of situation and almost always an as well as situation when it comes to in-game money-making. So as well as DLC,
microtransactions, loot boxes, and multiple special editions, we now have to be on the
lookout for contrived and convoluted subscription services that, like all the other monetization schemes, carve out content to sell back to us and solve problems that the
companies themselves created. And unlike MMOs, these
subscription services can be introduced at any time. At least with a traditional MMO you knew what you were
getting into upfront. Fallout 1st appeared almost a
year after the game came out! And we’ve talked about how manipulative post-launch monetization is before, these delayed transactions. Get someone hooked on the
game first and then introduce more ways for them to spend
money on their new habits. Sorta like offering a just
cosmetic microtransaction store at launch and then adding gameplay-affecting items over time. Bethesda. But on the topic of these
subscriptions being used as premium solutions to in-game problems, just listen to one player,
who claimed criticism of the Fallout 1st service
was manufactured outrage, justify their purchase
of that subscription without realizing the case
they were making against it. “I get two days off a
week, sometimes less. “I don’t have time to
grind challenges for atoms “or fight to farm for workshops.” Mm, spoken a bit like a mark! “Fallout 76”, like so many
of these live services now, is a grind, a churning slog
of repetitive busywork, a chore for which many
players don’t have time. And if you don’t have time
to progress in a video game you bought to literally
play in your spare time, that seems to be a pretty
big fucking problem, an issue with the game’s design, a problem which Bethesda has
solved for you at a price, another price on top of what
it already got from you. It’s basically like
pushing you down a hole and selling you a ladder. Given how popular this whole
scheme has gotten this decade, I’m gonna use a shorthand from now on and call it solution selling. Now that can be its own
comprehensive video, but this selling of solutions to problems that shouldn’t be there has been thoroughly experimented with in Nintendo’s latest mobile scam. With the boring and shallow
“Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” getting not one but two
subscription models, both of which offer
entirely different benefits so you’ll need to subscribe twice if you want those advantages, because of fucking course you do. For fuck’s sake, why isn’t Ekans in “Pokemon Sword and
Shield” for fuck’s sake? Now the game’s free-to-play, which some feel may
excuse the whole charade, but it’s still two distinct
subs that are total bollocks! And trust me, I know my subs. The cheaper subscription,
the Happy Helper Plan, is a classic case of solution selling. In the two years since it launched, “Pocket Camp” has gotten
steadily more grinding and demanding of the player’s time. Items that used to be
bought with in-game currency started asking for the premium currency, while regular events that used to require only casual attention
now require the player to log in multiple times
a day to keep pace. Basically, the game did
what a lot of games do now and demanded more and more from the player in exchange for less and less. A problem that Happy Helper solves by giving you a drip
feed of premium currency and the ability to have
a villager do the game’s myriad chores for the
player while they’re away. Create a problem steadily
over the course of two years and then sell those players
still hooked on the game a ladder out of the hole
they’ve been pushed into. The other subscription is
just fuckin’ grotesque! For 7.99 a month, that’s
right $7.99 a cockin’ month, you get five loot boxes. Yes, all of the exploitative
gambling fun of loot boxes with the steady wallet
drain of a subscription! Five gamble boxes a month
for eight friggin’ bucks! More money than Apple Arcade wants for dozens upon dozens upon dozens of pretty top-quality full-fledged games. It’s quite frankly disgusting
and completely highlights what I said about subscriptions being piled on top of
existing monetization. With “Pocket Camp”, we have a subscription that actively promotes and supports the existing monetization. Given all the evidence and
everything this very show has said about loot
boxes and their potential to get players compulsively
gambling with them, paying for five free
hits a month just reeks of particularly manipulative malevolence. And now, a brief tangent
about one of the impacts of premium subscription services that I wanted to elegantly
weave into the video but didn’t find a good place for it, so I’m just gonna pop it in here. Another thing worth mentioning is what we’ve called on this channel the haves and have-nots mentality, the idea that some people have something and other people are
the poorer, lower class. Now, this was discussed in a
somewhat tongue-in-cheek way on a Polygon article when Fallout 1st hit. There were people who
were hunting, allegedly, it wasn’t as big a deal
as people were making out, but there were a couple of people hunting Fallout 1st subscribers and there was this
strange little class war. And while it was, in
some ways, in good fun, some of the Fallout 1st subscribers started acting like
aristocrats, for a laugh, it does highlight that haves
and have-nots mentality and this is something the game
industry is well aware of. People like Torulf Jernstrom, who we’ve quoted on this show before, they talk about how they want to have this socially-acceptable
way to play a game and the socially-acceptable way
they want you to play a game is by spending money on it. That’s what cosmetics are there for, they’re there to show off status, they’re there to show off that
you’re better than the others that you’ve got more money, that you’ve spent more cash on the game and are treated better as a result. That’s what something
like Fallout 1st is doing, that’s something that subscription
services going forward will want to advertise, promote. They won’t be upfront about it, but there will be the implication, the implication that you’re better, that you’re more
socially-acceptable than others. Something to think about. Anyway, back to Nintendo. Nintendo’s bastardry
here follows the release of that piece of shit gacha
game “Mario Kart Tour”, which itself has a 5.99
subscription service behind which the 200cc
race mode is locked. And while Nintendo’s crass nonsense is currently restricted to mobile, the predatory mobile market is often the shape of things to come, so we’re getting a potential glimpse of what may be in store for players across the board next generation. Subscription fees have always been a treasured desire of publishers, as evidenced by the MMO gold rush, and companies in multiple industries want to have that baseline
guarantee of repeated revenue. We’re in an age where you can subscribe to boxes of a nerdy tat,
to shaving equipment, to fucking bacon if you want! And there’s not just one
bacon service, oh no! Here’s a list of the top
seven bacon subscriptions! Top seven! Top seven! Implying way more than seven exist! $400 a year bacon subscription? Fucking what? Eh, still a better deal
overall than Fallout 1st. Subscriptions are lucrative. They can get a lotta money not
in exchange for new products but for continued access to current ones, they can be used to just
like microtransactions to solve design problems for a fee, customers can easily lose
track of subscriptions, especially with the
ever-growing amount of them, and it’s often suggested
that many Americans pay for subs they don’t even use! Like my stupid ass has been
doing with Kindle Unlimited because I keep saying I
should read more books, as if simply saying that
makes up for the fact I’m an ignorant dullard who
doesn’t actually read books, but I really should read more books. Of course, like with the
live service gold rush and the military shooter gold rush and the rhythm game gold
rush and the MMO gold rush, there is not indefinite space
at top the market mountain. We are being expected to
subscribe to so much these days. Multiple television and movie services, a growing selection of video
game streaming services, Banana Republic clothes
rental services, that’s one! It’s already gettin’ a bit much, and this is before more companies decide to take Bethesda and Nintendo’s cue and start shoveling premium membership on top of their already
overly-monetized AAA games. I’ve said before that
the live service market is pretty unsustainable
across a whole industry because the audience’s time is finite, so too will a mass-adopted
subscription market also be unsustainable because most people aren’t made of fuckin’ money,
especially millennials, who are accused of killing industries because they don’t buy enough
diamonds or play enough golf, probably because they’re having to do multiple fuckin’ jobs just to make rent, which itself is a fairly
unethical concept. Did you know there are six empty houses for every one homeless person? Almost as if capitalism has created the problem of homelessness
to sell the solution which is a subscription to a fuckin’ home! Oh, but boohoo, the billionaires
might get taxed a bit more! They’ll have a little bit less
of a comical amount of money that no human being will ever fuckin’ need in their stupid fuckin’ life or the lives of their fuckin’ children! Wait a minute, where was I? Wait, what the hell was I doing? I blacked out for a moment just then. Oh well, I’ve left the record button on so I’ll have to go back
and see what I said. We will have to see what happens with subscription services in future. We’ve got those overall ones coming up, Stadia Pro’s already out there, EA Access is a thing,
Ubisoft and Square Enix are eyeing up their own premium services. So I guess the incoming years will show us exactly how sustainable the
subscription era really is. Probably a bit more
sustainable than planet Earth that’s dying because of climate change. Oh God, I’m blackin’ out again, ah! (object thudding) And take photo! Sorry about that, folks,
um, I got a bit distracted because, as you’ll see from the photo, the way this Boglin’s hand
is inadvertently positioned, it’s copping a feel of miniature
fantasy Willem Dafoe’s ass, so, so that’s good. Before we end, I’m still trying
to shill a little bit more, not all the time but
just a little bit more, just because I do not advertise
any of the stuff that I do and the ways in which
one can fund me at all, so I’m trying to boost that up. But if you did like today’s video, if you like anything we
do at “The Jimquisition”, if you like any of the ad-free content that we do on this
channel, you can support it at patreon.com/Jimquisition. You don’t have to, no
content is gated off, it’s a fully optional
pay-what-you-want subscription service There is one bonus in that
Patrons can ask questions that will get answered on a podcast, but anyone can listen to the podcast ’cause, like I say, no
content’s gated off. In addition to that, I’ve
started doing live streaming now, how excited, that’s at Twitch. How excited, how exciting! That’s at twitch.tv/Jimquisition. Again, it’s fairly easy
to work all this shit out. And as I said earlier, we’ve got podcasts. So if you look up a “Podposition”
or “Boston’s Favorite Son” or “The Spin-Off Doctors”
on iTunes, Spotify, the other one, SoundCloud, you will find our audio samplings. And that’ll do. You know, you can listen to
that, you can support the page, you can watch me on
Twitch, but whatever you do and however you do it, you
should always (clicking) thank God for me. ♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪ ♪ Oh, you don’t know ♪ ♪ Everybody’s thinkin’ ’bout me ♪

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