從產品體驗的角度談《最終幻想15:新帝國》是如何盈利的

原作者: Matt Suckley 譯者:Willow Wu

歡迎回到In-App Purchase Inspector,在這裏我們會以消費者的視角,定期測評一些F2P遊戲。

每期文章,我們都會考慮遊戲中IAP的誘因、壓力、它們的感知價值、IAP帶來的擴展內容還有整個遊戲體驗的評估。

最終目的就是看看這遊戲究竟值不值得我們砸錢,不花錢的遊戲體驗是否也能讓玩家感到滿足。

這次,我們來測評《最終幻想15:新帝國》,這是一款由2016年發行的主機遊戲移植過來的F2P手遊。開發團隊是MZ,他們的遊戲還有Game of War和Mobile Strike。

Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire(from pocketgamer.biz)

Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire(from pocketgamer.biz)

MZ版本的《最終幻想》

要以玩家的視角來研究MZ遊戲的盈利方式算是挺難的一件事。

這家美國公司發行的F2P遊戲讓他們名聲大噪,原因在於他們所採用的營銷方案都非常具有侵略性,和行業內的那些優秀的營銷案例背道而馳,這種粗暴的做法對於大部分西方玩家來說也是很少見的。

然而,MZ的強悍的吸金能力是大家不可置否的。

此專欄曾經把Mobile Strike總結爲一個“在硬貨幣方面過於吝嗇,喜歡用計時器折磨玩家”的遊戲。

但是MZ似乎對這個遊戲不怎麼擔心,還花大錢請了阿諾德·施瓦星格爲遊戲拍攝超級碗廣告,把遊戲打造成又一個收益榜冠軍。

但事實並未改變:MZ的遊戲要玩好實在是不怎麼容易,甚至對於那些經常玩手遊的玩家來說也是挺費力的。

《最終幻想》是業內最長壽、最受歡迎的遊戲系列之一,MZ發行《最終幻想15:新帝國》,把它呈現給另一個平臺的玩家,然而正如人們所預料的那樣,《最終幻想》的老粉絲們對這個新手遊一片差評。

MZ再次出擊

爲什麼會這樣?這其中的原因也不難想到。從遊戲一開始你就能感覺到《最終幻想15:新帝國》和Mobile Strike的遊戲構造、交互設計非常相似。

說實話,就第一印象來說,簡直是糟糕得不能再糟糕了。如果你是第一次打開這個app,玩不到一分鐘遊戲就會給你提供一份特別折扣。

MZ應該是在一開始就想要鼓勵玩家打開錢包,給遊戲砸錢。

玩家甚至都還不怎麼了解遊戲,也還沒搞懂遊戲的經濟體系,系統這麼快給玩家提供折扣禮包,這就讓人感覺到非常不爽。

遊戲早期的折扣(顯然這是iOS專屬的)實際上是非常划算的,包含600金幣,100VIP點數,一大堆豐富的資源還有加速道具,還有其他等等等等,只要4.99美元。

然而這個折扣禮包的有效期只有一天多,我很難想象玩家在F2P遊戲中做的第一個互動就是砸錢給IAP。

等待遊戲

《最終幻想15:新帝國》的玩法(如果你願意稱它爲“玩法”的話)和Mobile Strike,Game of War的玩法非常相似。

意味着玩這個遊戲就是建造和升級各種建築、防禦系統,它們各有不同的作用,管理不同的資源。還有就是等待,各種時間長短的等待。

遊戲中的資源有石頭、能源、金屬、食物,還有Gil——這是遊戲中難得一見受《最終幻想》粉絲肯定的東西。這些資源收集的方式比較被動,但是玩家也可以用金幣買到大量的資源,金幣屬於遊戲中的硬貨幣。

先不說折扣,金幣的標準價格是4.99美元買600個,19.99美元買3000個,99.99美元買20000個。

金幣的主要作用就是跳過等待時間,比如立刻完成一項任務或者是建造工作。

加速幣

要跳過等待時間也可以使用加速幣,它可以用來縮短一定的時間,從一分鐘到三天都有,看你的進度條有多長了。

開始的時候遊戲會送你一大堆1分鐘、5分鐘、10分鐘的加速幣,但是用完以後你就得花金幣去買了。

有個方法可以免費掙金幣,但是這個方法一開始也要花點金幣,也要花些時間,這個方法就是尋寶(Treasury)。

投入金幣,兩個小時之後你就可以得到本金加上10%的利息。

提高尋寶等級就可以提升利率,但是首先你的最低消費要達到4.99美元。

這就證明了MZ遊戲慣有的經濟複雜性,手遊開發團隊很少能達到這個程度。

堅固的城牆

《最終幻想15:新帝國》絕對不是一個動態博弈,遊戲流程沒有先後順序,而是由多個並行的短流程構成的。

開始的時候你手頭上有200金幣,這是一筆鉅款,在遊戲的早期階段你可以輕鬆而又快速地完成任務。但是隨着硬貨幣快速消耗,玩家掌握的技巧還不夠,就很容易陷入僵局。

當你完成了所有的任務,手上也沒有足夠的資源進行升級,要嘛就是繼續等着,看看會不會出現什麼轉機,要嘛你只能向遊戲屈服,交出你的錢包。

現在的F2P遊戲很少有看到對玩家這麼無情的,對於很多人來說(也包括我自己)這樣做感覺是很讓人不舒服的強買強賣,它並不能鼓勵玩家爲遊戲花錢,反而是讓玩家刪除遊戲。
但是對於那些熬過來的玩家來說,公會的是一個非常具有吸引力的地方,它所具備的社交功能可以讓部分玩家心甘情願地爲它花錢,而且是好幾年。

爲公會做貢獻會得到一種遊戲貨幣:忠誠(Loyalty),在特定的商店中可以用它爲公會購買強化道具和資源。

一旦你陷進去了,發自內心地與公會榮辱與共,關心成員的情況,你就很容易明白爲什麼MZ的遊戲可以吸引這麼一批專注、願意砸大錢的玩家。

分裂

人們對MZ遊戲的議論聲一直都難以平息,但這對他們來說似乎也不成問題。

玩家第一次進入遊戲中就接觸到的這種毫無保留遊戲體驗在一定程度上也能幫助開發者們區分出那些他們認爲有價值的玩家和那些像我一樣對遊戲保持着堅定消極態度的人。

而《最終幻想15:新帝國》更謎的是它的合作方式。

《最終幻想》和MZ的玩家在我看來是兩個八竿子都打不着的受衆羣體,而且這種強勢的F2P遊戲在《最終幻想》的老玩家眼中甚至可能成爲Square Enix的名譽污點。

對於MZ來說,雖然《最終幻想》無疑是個響噹噹的系列招牌,但是沒有阿諾德·施瓦星格或者是凱特·阿普頓這樣的大牌明星代言,還是不足以吸引大衆。

MZ拿之前的遊戲套了個《最終幻想》的皮囊,本質上又跟《最終幻想》並沒有多大關係,結果就是兩邊都不討好,無論是MZ還是《最終幻想》的粉絲都很難對這個遊戲產生興趣。

它看起來就像是個只想賺錢的遊戲。市場上還有那麼多比它更好的F2P遊戲,我實在不推薦大家去玩這個遊戲。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Welcome back to the In-App Purchase Inspector – our regular look at free-to-play games from the consumer’s perspective.

In each instalment, we consider the incentives or pressure applied to make in-app purchases, their perceived value, the expansion offered by IAPs and the overall value of the experience.

The end goal is to see whether the game makes a good enough case for us to part with our cash, or whether players are content – or engaged enough – to ‘freeload’.

This time we’re taking a look at Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, a free-to-play mobile take on the long-awaited 2016 console title. The new mobile game comes from Game of War and Mobile Strike developer MZ.

FF by MZ

Any study of the monetisation of an MZ game from a player’s perspective is a difficult proposition.

The US firm has made its name by launching free-to-play mobile games that flagrantly disregard many best practices, with aggressive retailing of the kind that most Western gamers simply aren’t used to seeing.

And yet, its track record for monetising with incredible efficiency is indisputable.

This column described Mobile Strike as being “overly tight-fisted with its hard currency and reliant on wait timers to grind down players”.

But it’s unlikely MZ lost any sleep over that, as it happily bankrolled an Arnold Schwarzenegger-fronted Super Bowl ad and established the game as yet another top grossing stalwart.

The fact remains, however, that MZ’s games are often too much to handle even for regular mobile gamers.

Launching a game in one of gaming’s longest-running and best-loved franchises has exposed Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire to a different audience entirely, and the response from Final Fantasy fans has been as negative as one would expect.

MZ strikes again

It’s easy to see why. From the off, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire is remarkably similar to Mobile Strike in terms of structure and UX.

In fact, as far as first impressions go, it could hardly be worse, greeting the player opening the app for the first time with a special offer splash screen before they have played a single minute.

MZ must have given this great thought and found that planting the seed with early retailing encourages players to spend cash down the line.
However, there’s something deeply unpleasant about the very premise of offering to take a player’s money before they have even had a chance to get to grips with the game and its economy.

The early-game offer – apparently an iOS exclusive – is actually pretty good value for money, offering 600 Gold, 100 VIP Points, a ton of various resources and Speed Up tokens, and plenty more for only $4.99.

And while it remains available for a day or so after that, it’s hard to imagine anyone making it their very first interaction in a free-to-play game to spend on an in-app purchase.

Waiting game

The actual gameplay of A New Empire – if you can call it that – is very much in the Mobile Strike and Game of War mould.

That means you’re constructing and upgrading various buildings and defences, each performing different roles, and managing various resources. And waiting. A lot.
In-game resources are Stone, Energy, Metal, Food and – one of the game’s few nods to actual Final Fantasy fans – Gil. All of these are generated passively, but greater quantities can also be bought using hard currency Gold.

Offers aside, standard prices for Gold are $4.99 for 600, $19.99 for 3,000 and $99.99 for 20,000.

Gold is used primarily to skip wait timers and instantly complete a quest or a building project, for example.

A token gesture

Wait timers can also be tackled using Speed Up tokens, which subtract a chunk of time – from one minute to three days – from a crawling progress bar.

A handful of one, five and 10-minute Speed Up tokens are given for free, but after that each costs Gold to buy.

One free way of getting Gold, although it requires some to start with and takes some time, is The Treasury.
Here, you can deposit your Gold and collect it back in full, with an added 10% interest, in two hours.

This percentage can be increased by levelling up The Treasury, but a minimum spend of $4.99 is required first.

This is a testament to the economic complexity offered by MZ’s games, which few other mobile developers can match.

Solid wall

Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire is by no means a dynamic game, then, and is built around multiple short sessions.

With a respectable lump sum of 200 Gold to start out with, it’s easy to accelerate through the early stages. But with hard currency quickly drying up, and very rarely gifted, it’s easy to hit a brick wall.

These are the moments when you’ve completed all your quests, lack the resources to make any upgrades and are simply left to either wait indefinitely until that situation changes, or give in and spend.

It’s actually quite rare for modern free-to-play games to give players such a blunt ultimatum, and for many – myself included – it’s an uncomfortably hard sell that pushes away more than it encourages spending.
But for those who do persevere, as with Game of War and Mobile Strike, there’s a compulsive social loop built around Guilds that will keep a certain kind of player happy and spending for years to come.

Contributions to your Guild are generated with a currency called Loyalty, which can be used in a specific store to buy boosts and resources for your entire Guild.

Once you’re hooked into this, and genuinely care about the advancement of your Guild and its members, it’s easy to see how MZ’s games have attracted such dedicated and high-spending players.

Divisive

But the majority will always bounce off MZ’s games, which it appears to be fine with.

In some ways, its no-holds-barred approach to first-time user experience may even serve to separate the players it considers worthwhile from those like me who are never going to convert.

What’s more puzzling about Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, however, is the very conception of the partnership.

Final Fantasy and MZ’s audiences never struck me as having a great deal of crossover, and this kind of free-to-play aggression might even taint the reputation of Square Enix in the eyes of its traditional fanbase.
And for MZ’s side, while Final Fantasy is undoubtedly a massive franchise, it’s lacks the mainstream appeal of an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Kate Upton-fronted campaign.

The result is a game that has very little to do with Final Fantasy, a great deal in common with MZ’s previous games, and little reason for fans of either to be interested.

It’s a game seemingly about nothing but money, that wants you to do nothing but spend money. With so many more generous free-to-play games around, it’s impossible to recommend.(source:pocketgamer.biz