Battledroid Alpha Sprint 3, thoughts on F2P

So, we actually got this one out bang on time. So on time there wasn’t quite enough time to actually write a blog post to coincide with it before we went on our summer hols :)

Important!

  • There is nothing to play yet – we’re concentrating on the user-interface and back-end stuff
  • Previous bugs are not fixed – such as tabbing not working – we’re working on fixing those now

What’s New?

This sprint was all about getting registered players to become premium subscribers, and finishing off the account maintenance functionality. So now you can subscribe or unsubscribe at will, and you can delete your account. Additionally the options panel, which wasn’t meant to be released until today but got released last week instead, was supposed to be in the sprint. So here it is :) Have a play with the GUI scale function and marvel at how awesomely clever our UI layout is. But first let’s explore the new functions and talk about them…

Premium Subscribers

Battledroid is a free-to-play game. This is a bit of a new concept for us old dinosaurs. Or maybe it’s an old concept but wrapped up in different clothes. Once upon a time people would make a demo, and you’d manage to get a certain small percentage of people to buy the full version of the game, which typically contains all the stuff that would be missing from the demo (usually things like more content and unlockable features). Then in latter years you’d make DLC and sell the DLC to the people who really enjoyed your game a lot. If you were particularly cunning you’d make your game designed for DLC from the ground up and make several bits of DLC. Of course, DLC only works when there’s a pretty large customer base in the first place, because only a small percentage of players actually buy DLC for your game, so to make it worthwhile developing it, it either has to be very cheap to develop, or you need a lot of existing customers, or some pretty amazing DLC. A combination of all three is the holy grail of the old model.

Well, we never really managed to have a lot of customers, and we also never designed our games for DLC. Each was made as a fairly straightforward, self-contained, complete game in its own right. We could in theory develop DLC for all of them but because we never designed our games with ways to expand them in mind, making DLC for them is surprisingly expensive – and the games are already pretty comprehensively complete as they are. So we’ve got not-particularly compelling reasons for DLC, coupled with a small customer base, and expensive production – the worst possible of combinations. This is why DLC for our games is rather rare – the only one we’ve made to date is Sandbox Mode for Revenge of the Titans (which you can get in a couple of bundles on Steam).

So Battledroid is designed using a completely new model. Being free to play we need to find out other ways to earn money from making the game. We’re relying on the free aspect luring in more customers than a demo might traditionally attract – it really is free. You will have access to the entire game and everything it has to offer for nothing, but it will take a lot of time and effort, not to mention considerable skill. What we’re planning to do is to also cater for people who don’t have any time, and therefore can’t put in the same level of effort. And we shall do this by selling individual robots to free players (and turrets, barricades, and mines) to collect in their armies. That’s like selling tiny bits of DLC.

Now, there comes a point where you might be thinking of playing the game rather a lot, and buying quite a lot of robots. As well as the time rich, money poor free players and the time poor, money rich players who buy a few units to get more involved in the action, there’s a third sort of player. This is the holy grail of customers – the true fan, who often has (or makes!) a lot of time for Battledroid, and wants to support it with money. Enter the Premium Subscriber.

The Premium Subscriber wants to play the game a lot, because she likes it a lot. And she also wants to buy lots of cool stuff to play with in the game, because, well, it’s cool. And maybe they want to support us. We can make this seem a lot more attractive to that sort of customer by offering a subscription. The plan is – and bear in mind all plans change though this one seems good so far – that a subscriber will pay $9.95 a month, which is instantly converted in to in-game “gold” at whatever rate’s in offer at the moment, and then they’ll also be entitled to a discount on everything bought, initially of, say, 10%. And every consecutive month of subscription will increase this discount by 10%, until we’re up to something like 90% discount – effectively making your $9.95 worth of gold actually worth $99.50.

So that’s how that works.

Account Deletion

We’ve also provided the ability to delete an account. This actually suspends the account, rather than immediately deletes it, in case it was just a fit of rage and you calm down a few days later. A suspended account will be “garbage collected” after a month, and gone forever.

What’s Next?

Next we’ll be devoting time to bugfixes and a little polish. Things like the missing mouse cursor (just checking here, but the window does have focus, doesn’t it?) and the totally broken tab-cycle ordering between UI elements, and invisible text when hovering the mouse over a text field when you’re not editing it. Basically any and all issues we can fix inside a week, and then we plan to make a start on the Commander tab screen – letting you edit your name, avatar pic etc.

16 thoughts on 'Battledroid Alpha Sprint 3, thoughts on F2P'

  1. I love free to play. To be honest I’ve never been able to justify paying the inflated price for DLC in a f2p game. Maybe you’ll change that for me.

  2. “And every consecutive month of subscription will increase this discount by 10%, until we’re up to something like 90% discount – effectively making your $9.95 worth of gold actually worth $99.50.”

    In other words, once you’ve paid $90 you can basically unlock everything new each month for $10. I’m not exactly sure what your game will be in the end, but that doesn’t look like a killer offer to me. Especially because you don’t get any physical value out of it. When the servers go down, everything is gone. You could say that $10 for entertainment per month isn’t that much, but if you compare it to a one-time $20 game it just seems like charging for the same thing over and over again.

    I really dislike the DLC strategy of many games. In nearly every case the DLC costs (a lot) more than the original game. Some even go so far and take out content to sell it as DLC. Many F2P games feel like they sell fun / enjoyment as DLC. As a result, I mostly avoid F2P.

    There is only one F2P game that convinced me to spend real money: Blacklight Retribution. After ~50h of fun I felt like giving something back to the devs. So I bought ~50€ of credit, which got me a hero, an early weapon unlock, an extra loadout slot and some skins. Did it increase my enjoyment: yes. Did I feel like I got a good deal for the money: absolutely no. Especially with future updates it felt like the stuff I bought got more and more useless, because I got everything I wanted at the point I paid, but still nothing from the new stuff. In the end I still don’t regret it, because I think that you should pay for the work they did.

    The other two F2P games I played didn’t give me enough incentive to spend money. Ragnarok Online 2 had absolutely nothing that was worth the price. League of Legends got me close to spending money, but in the end I didn’t feel like it would be worth it.

    I know that the strategy of F2P is to attract a big user base and hope that some of the players will be willing to spend a little on a tiny extra in the game and a few users will spend basically unlimited amount of money on their hobby. Maybe I’m too old, but I like to know what something will cost me in total before I begin investing in it. With DLC and F2P it always feels like I don’t get the full experience after a while if I don’t invest more.

    What I miss in F2P games is an option to buy a base set of items for a set price. For example a $20 pack that will give you everything to fully enjoy the game (without horrible grinding) and a $40 pack that will also get you future items (like a season pass). Feel free to charge extra for stuff like skins or some special (gimmicky) items.

    That are the thoughts of someone who bought all your games (incl DLC) and has a reasonable amount of both time and money. Does this make me the holy grail of customers? Not sure. Hope your business model can convince me ;)

    1. Allow me to assuage your fears!

      When we say free we really do mean free. There will be nothing in the game inaccessible to people who don’t want to give us any money. It’ll just take a lot of time and to get all the things you want. There’s no DLC as such. Everything is in the free game.

      We’ll be doing special packs of starter stuff and so on, and it shouldn’t be too complicated.

  3. I have all of your game, and I like it a lot!
    But like blizzz I want to know the price of my game.
    Your model is like Simpson, or other ipad games.
    If you think about a $9.95/month, I think you’ll produce a game with “asymptote end”.
    We’ll never reach the end, each time a new world, each time a new robot, primary robot will become useless in new world, each time you’ll make it harder to end, double necessary “money” to continue or something like this…
    I want a game to play in my house, not an “insert coin” machine with my own computer!
    I’ll download your game, since it will be free, to try it, but I’m sure I’ll don’t enter in your “game” of tax.

    1. There is no end to the game; it’s a huge persistent world of endless combat and fighting over loot. There is therefore no asymptotic ending.

      You can have everything in the game, for nothing, but easy come, easy go. You’ve got to fight to keep it. Or you can pay to have some things permanently. Either way the balance of the game is unaffected. You simply expand the depth of gameplay available to yourself.

  4. I guess I’m an old dinosaur. I HATE free to play. Avoid these games like a comet hitting the earth (actually, that’s not very avoidable, and I assume neither is F2P.) There’s something buzz killy about shelling out real money in order to affect your progress in a game. Very cool/generous that the full game is available for no cost. I can tell you now, knowing my gaming style that I won’t drop a dime on buying robots/add ons. Not that I don’t wanna support, I just find that to be the easy way out. When you guys were tinkering with the difficult levels with Revenge of the Titans I was among those whining that the game automatically gets easier after a certain amount of attempts. I love the challenge. And if it’s a good game, I’m willing to put the time in. The one exception for me was the old space computer game Escape Velocity. I downloaded a plug-in that gave me 100 million credits cuz I didn’t wanna spend two weeks trading materials in a slow stupid freight ship. But that was to avoid tedious and boring gameplay. I’ve played all your games thus far, and can’t imagine a moment where I wished I could have thrown money down to instantly get something that would naturally become available after putting in the time. Obvious Battledroid will be different than your other games, maybe I’ll start to play it and then really really want that cool new powerful thing right then because it’s just too difficult without it and it would in fact blossom my gaming experience into a heavily state of bliss. Even then, I still don’t see shelling out more money. Becoming a premium member, for similar reasons, doesn’t appeal to me at all. I also HATE subscriptions. Wow a lot of hate in this comment. Well, I love your games. And if there’s another way to support that isn’t against my gaming religion, I’m down (like a simple donation, for us old dinosaury folks.)

    1. Well, all you’d have to do is lay down, like $10 and you’d be able to buy a whole bunch of robots and so on with that. Then go forth and capture the rest for yourself.

      What F2P does is allow people to basically pay-what-you-want for how-much-you-want.

      1. i don’t think you hear me. i don’t buy robots. i capture them. maybe give ‘em real expensive paint jobs.

  5. I’m just pumped that you guys have a new game coming out. As for those saying they want to know how much it’s going to cost them before they get into it, c’mon, it’s FREE. I’m sure the process of playing will reveal how much or little you want to spend, if anything. If you feel buying things is “cheap,” then you could always just buy some credits and not use them except to show support for the devs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind spending some money to short cut some grinding or purchase some new content or bonus weapon/things in any game I enjoy. I’ve never done F2P but I think it sounds great. Right now I’m playing a castlevania game with loot drops, and I’d gladly pay a dollar or two for whatever rare loot I’m tediously seeking out and fighting the same creature 150 times for, when I’d rather just get the #*@&! helmet already and go use it.

    The cool thing is, even the free players fit into this kind of system: they help keep the game world populated and busy. This is a unique benefit to the F2P model, kind of a mutualistic relationship between all parties.

  6. Hi Puppygames,

    Your games SCREAM arcade. Am I mistaken, or did you not discuss the old “penny in slot” arcade sale mechanic… in that when I play an arcade/pinball game down at the pub, I’m not “subscribing”, nor am I “purchasing DLC”, but rather I have $2 to spend, and it’s going into 10 minutes of gaming.

    Further to this, why not release hats for your robots? Problem solved!

    1. It’s a bit like that yes. Well, it was. This really is a fundamental difference in style for us. Apart from the influences that arcade games had on our early lives 30 years ago we were also massively into Warhammer and lead miniatures. This is our take on that kind of thing. Collecting cool robots ftw! And hats. Why not?

  7. I know there’s a lot of speculation about the F2P aspect of Battledroid, but I’m not as concerned as I was when I read Cas announce it on the Steam forums in some random thread. After a couple weeks of mulling over the point that Puppygames is switching gears from their normal (masterfully crafted) arcade games, I came to the conclusion that I’m not going to judge this game before I play it like I do with almost every other F2P game I see on the market.

    Why? Because Puppygames has done us right in the past (if you are a true Puppygames fan, you can’t deny that). Hell, they even gave people controller support for Droid Assault… It boggled my mind, it boggled Cas’s mind, but they did it because a few people asked for it on a forum that really isn’t that active.

    It is stuff like that and the quality content they have made for us in the past that has me picking up multiple copies of their other game for my friends and family and will most likely have me handing over at least a little bit of money for Battledroid. Can any of you really deny, if there’s one group of developers that will put a huge amount of care for their customer into the F2P market it’s Puppygames? I know I can’t.

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