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Breaking the news – a retrospective


So it certainly seems that the concept we spoke about a couple of weeks ago caused a bit of an uproar, so it’s probably a good idea to do a post-mortem on the situation now that the dust has settled a little. It was all a bit overwhelming, but it seems Justin Beiber’s sexual exploits and Apple’s constant and uninteresting deadline and dispatch updates took interest elsewhere.

Something a bit like this, but we’re pretty sure teens can’t use it for sex.

The best thing to do is to point out the parts of this whole exciting and unexpected affair that took us most by surprise.

1) The initial response

+++Almost everyone who read the article and got in touch was extremely excited about the multi-platform (not just iOS) possibilities and where this technology might lead. We’ve spoken to hundreds of small dev studios, medium size game development companies right up to global size software developers. For every person that understood and was excited by the idea, however, there was another in frenzied panic, worrying about the end of consent and privacy as we know it and finding another reason to hate mobile games that don’t make you pay up front.
+++We expected controversy (we’re not mental) but we had no idea how easy it was for people to go bananas on small amounts of information, start arguing with each other and unleashing the power of a thousand suns on the internet. Don’t get us wrong – we’ve all been on youtube and reddit – but it’s still strange to see people arguing about information theft, eco-terrorism and secret NSA sub divisions.


This was the best image we could find for ‘phone panic’.
Have a look – they’re all really bad.

+++We made some mistakes, of course. We left some copy up on our website that was originally funny placeholder but eventually factually incorrect. This was really stupid and could’ve been easily avoided. We corrected the mistake immediately, despite the fact that our stance on user visibility was made very clear in the Pocket Gamer article anyway. In the eyes of someone who doesn’t want to learn but rather just to panic it wasn’t as funny as we thought Scrooge McDuck would make it – on the plus side, he seems to have found his spiritual home with Bitcoins.

2) Monetisation concerns

Our first priority with all our ideas are the users. This was the problem we considered before we started even thinking about solutions:

+++If you buy a game up front for $60 and aren’t happy, then it feels like coercion and you wish there was a way to take it back or try it first. When you try it first and have to pay a couple of bucks later, it feels like coercion and you wish you could just pay up front and not be bothered again. At the same time, however, we expect games to be delivered at consistently higher qualities, with superior graphics, performance, plotlines and mechanics regardless of the studio that made it.

+++We don’t think about the repercussions to the developer because we’ve never had to before – it’s very easy to champion the cause of ‘we give developers too much money already! Why have they put microtransactions in?’ or ‘why is the DS version of (iOS game) so much more expensive than on iOS?’ when really this is of no use to anyone.
+++If we want to maintain diversity we have to understand we’re fostering an industry that operates on every level, from one of your friends in their bedroom coding to monolithic publishers and development studios. To think there’s one model that will work for everyone is incredibly short sighted, and as this industry comes to maturity we need our attitudes on monetisation to change. Being apprehensive of new models is fine, of course, but Icoplay’s goal is to make it actually free to play games.

3) Visibility issues

+++In a talk on the subject back in October, we said that we strongly recommended this to be fully visible to users. Again we made this clear in our Pocket Gamer article… but mundane news isn’t as interesting as thinking we’re going to be all up in your hardware, stealing your power like hardened cyber burglars.

The new boogeyman knows PERL and C#

We’ve since clarified lots of times that this is going to be fully visible in every piece of software that carries it, and we hope that future coverage and user opinions reflect this.

+++It’s worth noting that there are processes in every game that run in the background to make sure the developer can optimise their revenue – analytics. They are critically important for any developer to understand how you play and behave (we know they’re not the same as bitcoin mining. That’s why ours is visible), and are used to tweak and address all sorts of variables and issues in games. Whilst we would never make our software invisible to the user, it’s another tool that is being used for the developer to make sure they can continue making games to the best of their ability. Sensationalism gets us nowhere, and what we’re looking to do is let the user play without paying at all.

So what is the final conclusion?
+++In terms of Icoplay and Icominer, we’re carrying on with our Beta. There’s a reason it’s in beta – we want it to be something that works for everyone, not just the developer. As of this moment, it is not in any commercial titles but we strongly hope it will be in the near future.

+++In terms of releasing our strange ideas to the public, we’ll check things over on our site next time. We won’t stop making things, though – we’ve got some even more insane ideas coming down the pipeline. We’re listening to what you say and we’d love you to stay up to date with us too.

Anyway, if you made it this far congratulations! We appreciate your attention. Here’s a someone getting hit in the head with a pan.

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