Damion Schubert is no stranger to microtransactions in Star Wars games and the effects they have on players’ morale. The former Star Wars: The Old Republic developer previously has talked about making players “feel good” about microtransactions, and today he launched an “educational” series of Tweets that are clearly in reference to the current controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II.
Schubert’s long self-replying Twitter thread begins here — and hey, it would be even longer if we didn’t have 280 characters, so there’s that! The self-proclaimed “Dark Warlord of Game Design”‘s primary point is that players not spending on MTs is the norm and should be treated as such. Ergo, insisting your game will only be profitable if you get lots of players to buy in on your F2P game — or buy in past the box price in a game like SWBF2 — is a sure way to fail. Players = Content, as the saying goes, especially in synchronous online multiplayer games, where they’re needed to fill out dungeon groups or PvP matches.
Schubert notes that “the Zynga Facebook games that used to spam your feed” only converted about 2% of free players into paying players, and that was considered successful. I’ve heard larger numbers with regard to more “core gamer” titles, like World of Tanks, and did confirm with Trion Worlds’ Scott Hartsman that that is indeed how things work, but it still means that the vast majority of players in any game don’t spend on microtransactions.
Near the end of his dissertation, Schubert repeats the assertion that microtransactions have to “feel good” to spend on, which, as many have noted, wasn’t really the case with SWTOR. He admits they made “a lot of mistakes” in that F2P conversion but is overall proud of it and notes that the company posted a “net GAIN in paying subscribers when we went free” — which seems to go against his mantra that people have to be happy to buy, but hey, I’m not a Dark Warlord of Game Design.