Posts by Tag / TOPIC: Consumer Experience (70)

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PS5′s limited storage

It’s hard for me not to scoff at Sony’s claims that they “aren’t hearing” that the PS5’s storage is too limited (even before Masahiro Sakurai complained about it). I’m pretty sure “not listening” is a more accurate phrase.

It’s rare I can install a game on my PS4 without deleting something else first, and game sizes are only getting larger. (And it only makes things worse that so many games, even if you buy them on disc, still install 20 GB or more onto the hard drive.) And while I do applaud the PS5’s level of backward compatibility, the fact that it can immediately play existing PS4 libraries (not to mention the PlayStation Plus Collection) means a lot of players already can’t fit their library onto their console.

Not acknowledging that storage is quite limited feels like denial of customer reality - the time and cost of having to download and re-download huge games because you can’t have them all on your drive at once, as well as the fact that the store will eventually be taken down preventing any future re-downloads. If that happened right now with my PS3, I’d mostly be okay - it’s got all the games I really care about installed right now. If it that happened right now with my PS4, I’d lose a lot.

(By comparison, on my 3DS, Wii, Wii U, and Switch, I have never once needed to delete a game to free up space.)

I think it’s plausible that given SSD costs, launching the PS5 with relatively low storage makes sense - but claiming that the feedback isn’t happening just makes Sony look out of touch.

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DualSense is always listening

From Reddit: First time Souls player. I didn’t realise that the PS5 records your microphone’s audio whenever you get a trophy. Whoops.

Let’s unpack this a bit.

By default, the PS5 saves a video clip whenever you get a trophy.

Of course, the PS5 can’t know when you’re about to get a trophy. So that means it’s always capturing video; it just discards most of it unless you get a trophy or manually save a clip.

But the PS5’s DualSense controller has a microphone array that cannot be removed or deactivated. It can apparently be muted, but it’s on by default with no indicator. And audio from this mic is, by default, included in the trophy video clips. Which means that by default, your PS5 is constantly capturing audio from your controller mic, though in theory it simply discards most of it.

How in the world are people okay with this? How is anyone okay with being surprised that their internet-connected game console is continually recording them without asking permission?

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The Platform is the Playstyle: Missions and Monetization

A while back, I got Jumping Joe & Friends for free on Switch - one of many free games I’ve gotten from being in QubicGames' ecosystem. It’s a simple reflex-testing runner-like game (though you jump vertically rather than run horizontally) that you can get into a good rhythm with, so I felt like it would be a better fit for mobile, and of course it actually is a port of mobile freemium title Jumping Joe! I picked that version up, and while the gameplay is indeed well-suited to the sort of casual kill-a-few-minutes experience that mobile enables, it’s both better and worse as a mobile game. Worse for the standard freemium reasons, but better because it has missions - side objectives to complete during runs that provide extra variety and depth to play.

Missions are great for this sort of game. They’re what elevated Jetpack Joyride from good to great. They add another layer to gameplay that keeps things fresh far longer. I don’t understand why the Switch port of Jumping Joe doesn’t have them. Why are they mobile-only? Why can you only get them if you also get the scummy monetization? As is, I find the Switch port dulls quickly and the mobile version feels obnoxious and greedy, and I stopped playing the game pretty quickly.

A bit later, I finally tried Mario Kart Tour, which I’ve complained about before. (Don’t judge me; it was for the mission to get the stupid Mario pins that ran out of stock in five seconds anyway.) And I found that in adapting the experience to mobile, Mario Kart had made several changes that felt like straight-up improvements.

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DualSense violates privacy by default

The PS5’s DualSense controller has a microphone array that is on by default in multiplayer games. It sounds like it doesn’t even light up to indicate that the mic is on - it does so to indicate that the mic is muted.

With no visible headset or microphone, no light, and no opt-in to the mic being on, there are ZERO CUES that you are transmitting audio across the internet. No cues for you and no cues for anyone around you. You can easily forget this and broadcast a private conversation with a third party who has absolutely not opted in to this and may not even know it’s possible.

I can’t understand how this happened. It is so obviously a bad idea.

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It turns out that more people are playing...

It turns out that more people are playing CrossCode on Xbox Game Pass than on Switch and PS4 put together. This is wholly unsurprising.

On console and on mobile, subscription models mean that price is no longer a barrier for individual games. Once the monetary cost of trying a game is literally zero, players are far more willing to try way more games. And it’s clear that the greatest beneficiaries of this are weird indie games that players wouldn’t otherwise be confident enough to spend money on.

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Economic Vocal Minorities

On top of all the ethical problems with whale-hunting via loot boxes, there’s also a game design one: it’s allowing the design of games to be twisted by the habits of a small fraction of players.

From Ofcom: Less than 6% of UK children, 4% of adults have purchased loot boxes:

“[O]nly 4% of UK adults who play video games say they have ever bought loot boxes in free-to-play titles, and only 4% have bought them in premium games. Meanwhile, 6% of game-playing children – defined as aged five to 15 – have spent money on loot boxes in free-to-play games, while 3% say they have bought them in premium titles.”

In most cases, it’d be laughable to change a game’s design to significantly worsen it for 94%-97% of its players to accommodate the habits of the other 3%-6%. But when those habits are “spend more money than the 94%-97% put together”, that’s what happens.

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Apple Arcade Seeks Engagement

From Apple Cancels Some Arcade Games in Strategy Shift To Keep Subscribers:

“[Apple] scrapped development contracts with multiple game studios earlier this year . . . . [A]n Apple Arcade creative producer told some developers that their upcoming games didn’t have the level of ‘engagement’ Apple is seeking. . . Apple is increasingly interested in titles that will keep users hooked, so subscribers stay beyond the free trial of the service. . .”

I was a little worried things would move in this direction, but was hoping they wouldn’t. As helpful as it is to set up an ecosystem where games can’t rely on IAP and developers don’t have to think about price, the subscription model does easily lend itself to optimizing for engagement, which causes its own problems.

I’m really hoping they’re at least looking for more complex metrics than just daily active users or something.

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So if you start Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive...

So if you start Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition on a Switch where you also have a save file for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you get an optional bonus: you can start the game with 100,000 G.

This kind of reward has always confused me. It’s not, like, a Rex outfit for Shulk or something, which is a pattern I’ve seen in other games that makes sense to me - a cosmetic reward that’s a nice touch for the people who can get it. Instead, it’s just a big pile of currency - which means this is a balance question.

Positioning the extra money as a reward implies they think the game is better if you start with it - in which case, why don’t you start with it by default? Or even if this is a case where some players would probably enjoy it and others wouldn’t, then why only give that choice to people who have already played a sequel to this game?

One way or another, I feel like the game has been (very slightly) worsened for one group or another in order to enable a reward that potentially has significant effects for early-game balance and pacing. I feel like the intentions here were probably good, but the results are just kind of weird.

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