Chaturday: But the Cash Shop Works Fantastically

I read a piece this past week questioning if the bad boy developer image is dead and boy do I sure hope so. For the most part, I believe that attaching names to games is going away, and I think the facts would back me up on that.

Let’s be frank on one thing regarding Radical Heights: This game’s success or failure will ultimately have little to do with the public reception of Cliff Bleszinski. Are there a handful of people who are refusing to play Radical Heights because CliffyB called PC gamers pirates ten years ago? Yes, most likely. Is that number statistically significant? No.

Not nearly as influential as the fact that Boss Key Productions decided to spend a whole five months in development before shoving the game onto the Steam store amidst a sea of other half-baked products. Radical Heights has the misfortune of existing as effectively a lesser Fortnite. Both games are free to play battle royale titles, both utilize graphics to make them accessible on lower end machines, but one of those two games is effectively in alpha and is still using placeholder mesh buildings.

From a gaming perspective, indulging in Radical Heights right now seems pointless when Fortnite exists and has a massive, healthy user base. It’s akin to waiting outside of an Olive Garden while the building is being constructed when the Olive Garden a block away is open and has a full menu.

But Radical Heights isn’t necessarily doomed just because people aren’t playing it right now. The Battle Royale genre may be dropping corpses left and right, but the world looked at Fortnite BR and a lot of people thought that would never catch on either.

It also risks languishing in a PR hell where launching into early access essentially starts your game’s relevance timer with the press. If Radical Heights rushes its way to launch, they’re probably doomed. If they spend too long in developmental hell for the next year or two, they risk missing the exact ship that the launched early to catch. Remember We Happy Few? That game still hasn’t gone gold two years after launching into early access.

I like to look at a developer’s culture and design philosophy when talking about their potential for success or failure. Take Monte Cristo, French developer who in 2009 launched Cities XL. I expressed my concerns on my old website that Cities XL was doomed to failure and that its income scheme showed a deep misunderstanding for the market.

Cities XL not only launched with a mandatory subscription to play online, but arguably crippled its single player mode in order to make the online version look more attractive. What Monte Cristo banked on was that they would have the market cornered by being the only online Sim City style game on the market and that people would pay whatever price they asked for the opportunity to participate. What they didn’t understand is that given the absurd proposition of injecting subscriptions into a genre that had never seen them before, that people would simply say no and move on.

Radical Heights launched into early access in an increasingly saturated market with unfinished textures but a surprisingly well molded cash shop and currency purchasing. Its success or failure will depend partially on the culture at Boss Key and how it convinces gamers to give them a chance and keep playing.

But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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