For my first decade as a video gamer, the only game we owned was the Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt cartridge that was bundled with the NES. When we had visitation with the NES, we would rent different cartridges from the local VHS rental store. I had to rent Final Fantasy II on 3 subsequent weekends (playing instead of sleeping, and hoping no other renters deleted my save) to beat it the first time.
These days, I buy both used and new video games, though the vast majority of my purchases are new. When I'm done with a game, I give it to a friend, or sell it to an individual or company. Thus, even though I'm done with it, the game continues to contribute to society rather than adding to my domestic clutter or decomposing in a landfill.
There is some question as to whether the next generation of game consoles will enable this behavior. The poor poor game makers say that the used market prevents them from selling games, and that without up-sell tactics like pre-planned (paid) DLC and code-locked content, they'll go out of business.
I say BS to all of this moral high ground foolishness. Game makers and publishers, it's your job to figure how to manufacture and market your game in a way that benefits your company. It's your job to make a game so good that gamers cannot wait to play it; to include compelling enough on-line or social content to drive early adoption. The opportunity for independent and low-cost distribution has never been higher.
Wired's Game|Life published a great article on freemium games - games which are free to download and play (mostly on mobile phones), but have in-game bonuses that the player may buy. Some games take the time honored website model of in-content-advertising to the extreme by:
selling eyeballs to advertisers instead of selling games to gamers.
For my money (or eyeballs, if you will), here are some key properties of a successful free-to-play experience:
- Free games are "safe" downloads - the only initial investment from the user is time. If they like it, they keep playing. It's an economy of interest.
- Players can spend money to save time - buy buying things that they could otherwise earn with an investment of hours. Games fail when what they sell cheapens gameplay, however.
Some games that have created a successful FtP model include Tiny Tower (on iOS), Packrat on Facebook, Bejeweled Blitz on iOS or Facebook, and League of Legends on Windows.
Let's talk about "tasting rooms" - sort of like a brewery's company store, they sell a few ounces of their beer for a buck or two. Sometimes they have pretzels or nuts, but they're not a full bar and they don't have food. They just have beer from the brewery that they're in.
As a beer connoisseur, the husband loves these places. But as a non-beer drinker, they offer very little for me. So what can a tasting room do to ensure that they're something more than a quick stop while I watch the husband drink?
- Make some root beer, and offer it on tap with the other beers. If nothing else, carry another brand's root beer or soda.
- Get some food. Seattle has a great wealth of food trucks, and I'm sure they'd love to park at your place and sell some food.
The longer that the non-beer-drinkers (aka the designated drivers) are kept entertained - rather than feeling left out - the longer our whole group will stay at a tasting room.