Microtransactions. Loot boxes. Free to play. Pay to win. These are all hot topics in the gaming industry in recent years as developers turn away from traditional income techniques and embrace the money that gamers are willing to shell out on cosmetics, expedited progress and other in-game features. Recently, the issue has come to a head as EA's community ate the publisher alive for questionable monetization practices in Star Wars Battlefront II
Amid all this discussion, Clicker Heroes
developer Playsaurus has decided to take a completely different approach to the popular clicker's sequel, Clicker Heroes 2
. Despite the fact Playsaurus made a lot of money — including from "whales," or big-money spenders, who spent "many thousands of dollars" on the free-to-play game — they have dropped the free-to-play model for Clicker Heroes 2
, instead opting to sell it as a US$30 game.
In a blog post that has the apt URL name of "paytowin.php," Playsaurus cited both ethical and game design concerns, calling games "inherently addictive" and saying they are not comfortable receiving money from players "who are in denial of their addiction." According to Playsaurus, they don't know who is on the other side of the bill, and they're not comfortable with this. "If you're rich, please be my guest," the post reads. "But we don't want this kind of money if it came from anyone who regrets their decision, if it made their lives significantly worse as a result."
Playsaurus also wants to take their decision as an opportunity to make a quality game, hoping to give players an experience unclouded by the "persistent nagging feeling of 'My game could be so much better if I just spent a few dollars.'" The developer also cited the fact that updates to Clicker Heroes
were difficult as people don't like something on which they spent money suddenly being changed. The post reads, "Clicker Heroes 1
is kind of a frankenstein of a game, our hands always having been tied by the fact that we couldn't easily change things that people paid for."
The first Clicker Heroes game
Playsaurus would also like the game to have mods, which wasn't doable in the first game due to the exploitative nature of giving players easy access to Clicker Heroes
' source code.
The developer has also acknowledged the fact that while abandoning their free-to-play model may ease their consciences, it may not be easy on their wallets. There is a chance the practice may fail.
But going forward we're going to at least try the paid-up-front model for our business. It may or may not work. It probably isn't worth nearly as much money, but at least we can do it with a cleaner conscience.
Playsaurus is currently offering players who pre-order the opportunity to refund for one year after Clicker Heroes 2
's launch. The sequel has not yet been confirmed for consoles, with only a PC version available for pre-order as of this writing, but judging by the first game's success on Xbox One and PS4, there is a good chance we'll see it down the road. Speaking of the first game, there will be no changes to the original Clicker Heroes
' monetization system.
To read Playsaurus' blog post in full, see here