[This won't be the usual musing on the gaming industry but will still approach -albeit only superficially- one of its recent practice]
This weekend 14-15 April 2018 may be one of the best weekend for gamers on Xbox... or one of the most frustrating ones.
The lucky players get to play for free all of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
, Skyrim Special Ed.
, Halo 5
and Injustice 2
, whilst simultaneously enjoying double XP or in-game resources, for Paladins
and Friday 13th
The unlucky ones, will have to choose what to play and feel frustrated to miss out on the others.
[Note that this list may actually be bigger than that, given my sources are limited and I have no interest in researching it further (read, I don't plan on playing any)]
This won't be the first time free play-days happen and not the first either more than one happen at the same time, but it strikes me as potentially the most heavily loaded thus far.
Who doesn't like free many would say? And I could refer you to a previously written blog
but covering a subject I've already tackled isn't my subject today.
No, it's just that it stroke me how similar this can feel to those past family nights in front of the TV, at a time when there was only one set in the house, and after waiting all week long for anything interesting to show on any of the handful of channels we had, all of the sudden there was three good movies at the same time on Saturday night. Even with a VCR, an agonising choice had to be made.
I used to get the rationale for the TV channels for that practice. The big nights were important for market shares and if they knew the competition had a killer programme, they needed to have one too. Each weekend was there to be grabbed one after the other as otherwise ratings could be falling and revenues via advertisements as well.
But why does it happen on gaming platforms? Platforms don't compete with each other, and games do but at a different scale and tempo... What is the benefit of competing for the same players' time, versus staggering free play-days and take turns to try to win the customer over.
Competing over the same time is already what happens naturally, so I would think the free play-days should act as a different commercial strategy, more like a special type of advertisement. To that end they would be more efficient if they each had a dedicated slot rather than run concurrently.
This is why I reckon the way those are setup must be following a unregulated process with no global overview, or planned with a different party's interest and direction in mind, which I won't be able to guess.
Either way, it does feel like a bit of a shame and lost opportunity. For everyone.
Those who will make a choice and concentrate on one or too games will likely feel frustrated, but for the industry's loss, they will also be potentially buying less games as they'd have tried less of them.
Those who will try to get their fingers in all pies, will likely have less chances to feel involved in any of them, which in turn for the industry, may mean less likely to purchase anything at all.
The only winners, will be those who know how to handle 'free' stuff, will pick consciously, and enjoy the time they will have with it. Giving only a thank you to the publisher(s), with a smirk.
Whichever you will be, I hope you enjoy the weekend and have a lot of fun, whether in front of a screen or not.