This week I had the pleasure of talking to Niki Grayson and my producer Paul Tamayo about Skate and how the franchise is going free to play with its next entry. Like Niki, I think this could actually be a good thing! The general vibes I’m getting from the folks making it tell me they definitely want to do right by their players and given EA’s relatively recent trend of walking back disastrous rollout decisions, I weirdly trust this crew! I don’t know! Maybe that’ll come back to bite me. Regardless, we had a great chat on Thanks for the Knowledge this week about it.
You can also listen to the show on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
That’s not the only thing we chatted about, however. I brought up Unity CEO John Riccitiello’s interview with PocketGamer.biz, where he was asked about Unity’s recent merger with controversial ad tech business ironSource. In the interview, the concept of introducing monetization early into a game’s conceptual phase was broached. What followed was a quote that made the rounds heavily in this week’s news cycle:
Ferrari and some of the other high-end car manufacturers still use clay and carving knives. It’s a very small portion of the gaming industry that works that way, and some of these people are my favourite people in the world to fight with – they’re the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people. They’re also some of the biggest fucking idiots.
Riccitiello has since apologized for his “crude” remarks but not before tweeting that his statements were taken “out of context” and the piece itself was “clickbait.” And sure, calling artists “fucking idiots” is pretty bad! Especially when you’d presumably want those fucking idiots using your software suite to make games that eventually make money for the platform. But what do I know, I’m not the CEO of a huge software company, nor have I ever tendered my resignation to a different huge software company after years of loud and notable failures! I simply don’t know what I’m talking about.
The problem, for me, is that Riccitiello’s comments are not at all taken out of context. In fact, he further contextualizes his thoughts with even more clarity in this chilling bit just mere sentences after painting artists with the “fucking idiot” brush:
I’ve seen great games fail because they tuned their compulsion loop to two minutes when it should have been an hour. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even notice the product difference between a massive success and tremendous fail, but for this tuning and what it does to the attrition rate. There isn’t a developer on the planet that wouldn’t want that knowledge.
I’d say that’s pretty clear, John. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of a “compulsion loop,” let me untangle it for you. A compulsion loop is essentially a chain of events driving someone to start the chain over, preferably forming a habit in the process. They’re used in game design explicitly as an extrinsic (as opposed to intrinsic) motivator to keep playing. If it sounds like it’s also something connected to addictive behaviors, you’re exactly right! It’s a key component of gambling machine design. In and of itself, a compulsion loop doesn’t have to be designed in a way that evokes the worst learnings of BF Skinner, but if you’ve played a AAA video game in the past 25 years you’ve encountered explicit compulsion loop design. Think power fantasy. Think grinding for gear. Now think loot boxes. Now think gacha mechanics. All compulsion loops.
John Riccitiello can apologize for laying it out this plainly, but he can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube in terms of his views on compulsion loops. They are, to him, the vital pieces a game developer must grasp before making a game. The beautiful morons not thinking about compulsion loops are the ones to be left behind in John’s new world he’s building with Unity and all their wacky acquisitions.
I can’t wait to see what the beautiful morons make!
News discussed in this week’s episode:
- John Riccitiello says devs who don’t bake monetization into their games early are “fucking idiots” (really)
- Skate is going free to play
- PlayStation Stars program is NOT about NFTs
- Can Nintendo really be trusted with their own animation studio?
- Bungie might be working on a new game in the Destiny franchise
- BioWare disables their old digital currency & makes some DLC free in the process
- Bayonetta 3 has a release date and a nudity toggle
- Heardle purchased by Spotify
- Nordisk buys Supermassive Games
- Kirby’s Dream Buffet is the Fall Guys-like I didn’t know I needed
Transcript of my conversation with Niki & Paul:
John: I love skateboarding! And so do the two people that I’m talking to today for this section of Thanks For the Knowledge. And with me today are Niki Grayson.
And Paul Tamayo.
Paul: I also love skateboarding.
John: I know we all do. We all love it so much. This past week we got an extended look. I think it was like 18 minutes of the new Skate game from the devs themselves, including Cuz Perry, who’s never met a bowl he didn’t smoke right before making all these videos.
Paul: I love it.
John: It’s so great. And yeah we learned a bit about this new game, which is crucially, Niki. Not Skate 4.
Niki: Not Skate 4. It’s just called Skate.
John: And we found out it’s more or less a platform that they intend to- intend to basically just keep as a live service game for, they said five, 10 years, something like that.
They want to just keep it going. Do you think that is a good call? Obviously we’ve, we’ve all seen the videos from the 10 year old game Skate 3 it’s living in infamy on YouTube. People are still playing it on their Xboxes. But, this platformization of Skate.
What did you think when you heard that?
Niki: EA doesn’t have a live service game.
Niki: That’s not true. Apex Legends. Folks, thank you so much… (laughs)
John: I was gonna let you come to the conclusion that what you said was just wrong.
They also have an MMO.
Niki: What MMO?
John: They have Old Republic.
Niki: No people don’t play that.
John: Yes they do. They still play that. There are still a lot of people that work on that game.
Paul: Battlefield’s still a thing.
John: Battlefield’s still a thing.
Niki: Oh, my God. All right, fine. I was wrong. (John laughs)
Paul: They should have named it Skate One actually.
O-N-E? Skate One? Yeah, no, I think this is smart. I don’t really know how you convince anybody in 2023, when this game comes out to spend $60 on a game called Skate when it already is going to have micro transactions in it, just because of the way that video games that are like, this are now it seems like it’s a slam dunk relative to the fact that people are hungry for skate. It’s also there are not very many sports games that are free to play. And I think that this is a unique opportunity for EA to try some stuff.
Especially as it relates to like what, how they monetize their games moving forward.
Paul: It’s really interesting cuz it feels in a lot of ways. I am also very- I don’t know, but I’ve been desensitized to these kind of live service things where I’m, I’m of hap I’m like more than happy to pay for like a season pass of a game that I really enjoy because it’s also especially if it’s free to play, it’s yeah I wanna support studio in the devs and I am enjoying it.
So I might as well, thankfully I’m in a position that I can do that, but skate is I think EA just, finally realized that they have the perfect template for a live service game. That’s like a mix of, GTA online and, fall guys. And so many other things that it’s like, you could see how this could has a lot of potential and I’m yeah I’m like hesitant, but I could see it maybe working.
John: Yeah. It feels like maybe in I think it’s a smart move to go. It’s, by the way, it is free to play. Like we, it is a live service game that is free to play. That was probably the biggest news that came out of the showcase this week. But I think it feels like to me that they’ve wanted to revive skate for a long time.
They’ve said that as much , but it really seems like to me that what finally. EA to say, fuck it. Why not was probably a combination of these factors, of saying, okay what if we really experiment with live service and free to play and all that stuff, and you can take all of that data and apply it to whatever the fuck you want, because you’ve said, this is the future of games and all this other stuff, but y’all, haven’t done a ton of it, so it makes a lot of sense for skate to be. Ironically the playground for this kind of stuff.
John: Yeah. See what I did there.
Niki: Yeah. Wordplay.
John: It’s it’s like a little skatepark it’s like a little skate park of business ideas,
Niki: Business ideas, Wilson getting into the half pipe.
John: Uhhuh. Yeah. But they did say that, it was so funny, the video featured an influencer his name was Brandon, I believe? And-
Niki: Sure. He looked like a Brandon.
John: (laughs) but he was just like a, he was like a plant for “What will the public be asking?”
Yeah. And he did say Hey, are there gonna be micro transactions? And then someone was like, “Yup!” And he was like, “ah, all right that’s not great…” But I did appreciate that. They were open about Hey, we have a lot to prove about this way of monetizing the game. And I appreciate I don’t know how much I buy it, but I appreciated their approach to say, yeah, there are micro transactions.
Yes. We understand that those could be a fucking bummer, but we’re gonna try to make it not a bummer.
Niki: I think that the second I heard free to play for Skate, I was like, oh yeah, of course. Because then you can just buy, they’re just gonna let you buy Tony Hawk as a skin, they’re gonna let you buy Nyjah Houston as a skin. Like you’re just gonna let you buy-
John: What about Yoda?
Yeah, let me buy let me buy Yoda.
Grogu is gonna be fucking shredding it.
Niki: Yeah. Like it makes sense. Yeah. Like the optics of “okay, we’ve created a skateboarding video game, where the platform is is not even competitive.” Like skate, I guess is competitive. There are inherently, there are game modes in it. You can play horse. Yeah. Which is called skate. There, you know what I think they should have not called the game Skate. Yeah. because like the word “skate,” if you like, say it or type it to many times, it doesn’t mean anything .
And also like multiple of the game modes, the verb is skate. The noun is skate.
John: I know. The SEO is terrible.
Niki: The SEO is really bad. They should have just called it Skate 4.
Yeah. Yeah. They should have- (laughs)
Paul: Skate Infinite.
Niki: (Niki and John in unisone) Skate infinite! Yeah. Or like skate and then just like skate, but it’s ska-
what if they called it Ska?
John: Skaaaaa. I love that.
Niki: But yeah, it’s like of course-
John: Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up! Sorry.
Niki: And it’s you picking up your skateboard but of course they’re gonna let you buy like a pair of Nike skate shoes. They’re gonna, like you buy a pair of DC skate shoes, right?
They’re gonna let you buy a hat that has. Fucking is dead space guy’s hat.
John: A force users pack. So when you summon your skateboard back to you, it’s like Ray Skywalker doing like a fucking force pull or whatever.
Niki: Yeah. In Skate 3, you could just be dead space guy.
John: Uh-huh. Yeah. Yep.
Niki: And also Darth Vader, I think.
Paul: It’s an interesting approach because I feel like I, so I played the hell out of the first two skate games. And then when skate three came out, I was broken in film school. So I, there was like a period there where I was only playing like battlefield.
And I downloaded this morning, actually skate three on game pass and I was playing it and I’m like, fuck, this is still. So excellent. Like the actual, the mechanics of the, of the game itself and the way you have to actually aim for rails and nothing is handed to you.
You have to really like, do accomplish these things yourself, like with the, with the actual mechanics they give you it’s so interesting that a part of me was thinking during this presentation, which I actually really appreciated from a, like I really like that they’re showing this really early gameplay and, guiding us through the process.
And it was funny cuz I was actually, oh, watching some of that early gameplay. I was like, yo, just drop that shit. Let me play that right now!
Niki: Just drop it. Imagine if they just released that.
Paul: Oh my God. Yeah. Or, yeah, just like early access kind of situation. But I bet that’s probably something they’re considering, because we’ve seen other games do that even like session.
I think that was in early access for a minute.
Niki: The thing about session was that it was bad though.
John: It was bad.
Paul: Yeah. It was weird. Like the triggers and stuff. It was bizarre.
John: My what, let me ask just this question before you get back to your point, Paul, what if that leaked build of the game that people were playing was done on purpose?
Paul: Oh, see, I don’t know, because they’re claiming that it’s from September.
Niki: Yeah, they sure. But then, but if it was from September, why did it come out the same week as the, yeah, it’s in I’ve I’m saying it’s announcement?
John: It’s an interesting idea. I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy theory at work here.
Niki: (Paul and Niki in unison) I’m saying there’s a conspiracy. Paul and I are saying- (laughs)
John: to your point. If they did leak that and to, in order to get some early feedback and stuff, just make that explicit. Like I think it’s fine. I think what they’ve done with dead space too, they’ve shown the new dead space early, like that game is not ready. They’re up against a bunch of games that are in that competitive space that look more ready than that game does. And it’s coming out in six months and it’s I appreciate that. I think that’s actually cool. And I’m like, maybe this is just a new thing that EA is trying anyway.
Sorry, get back to your point.
Paul: Yeah, no, I ultimately while I was watching that thing, I was thinking to myself, would I actually pay for a $60 skate game? And I was like, of unsure, like as much as I love those games in the past, I was like, think a part of me would probably lean on the side of, eh, maybe I’ll wait till, if it’s on game pass.
Yeah. No brainer. But if it’s like if it’s a thing I’m luke warm on I’d probably wait for a sale or something, so I could see the logic behind we wanna invite folks in who might be on the fence. And I think if there is some balance they can strike where.
They’re claiming it’s not gonna be paid to win and all this kind of stuff, it’s all gonna be mostly cosmetic, but I still am very allergic to free free to play games when I like boot them up because of how overwhelming a lot of that UI is constantly yelling at you to buy, put quarters into the machine where I’m just like, I just wanna play the thing,
Niki: but I feel like- I’ve been playing a lot of Fortnite, like since the pandemic started and I continue to play Fortnite. And Fortnite, I think splits those uprights really well because it doesn’t even tell you that, like it, when you start the game up, And sometimes it’s like ayo, Thor is in this store and then you press A, and then you don’t see that anymore.
There’s no like advertising about anything on the store. It’s here’s your guy. Here are your here’s what level you are in the battle pass. If you want to go to the item shop, it’s three tabs over. But you don’t actually need to interact with it. And like at no point in the, in playing the game is the game like.
“Damn. Imagine if you didn’t- imagine if you bought this.” Yeah. And I think if they approach it, this, if they approach skate the same way I don’t see why it would not work. Yeah. I also think that Paul you were saying that you can’t imagine spending $60 on a game like skate now.
And I think that’s so true. Not because I don’t think it’s worth that. Also like EA will absolutely put a box in target that says skate on it. It will be empty and have a code in it to give you a bunch of tokens or whatever. But they will absolutely figure out how to do a $59.99 version of skate for target and best buy for Christmas.
Yeah. But like, when I think about the way I played skate, When I was in high school it was like I was playing skate the way I play Fortnite now, which is to say that I was not particularly playing skate to like play skate. I was playing skate because you could get five or six of your friends in the lobby at the same time and just sit on Xbox live party chat and shoot the shit for two hours.
And then it didn’t really matter what you were doing in the game. You were just skating was like the was the verb, but you weren’t really like actively playing the game, which is how I treat Fortnite. And which is how most people treat Fortnite. I don’t know.
Paul: It’s so interesting too, because I feel like it is such a perfect, almost like one to one metaphor for what the real life experience is because I used to actually skate when I was younger and when, it would just be me and my friends, go skating through like industrial areas by where we lived. Sure. Just hanging out for hours just being like, just like the thrill of carving down a hill or when we were dumb enough, like luging down a hill.
Yeah. But. It, it was the, just the that energy of just being able to get together and just explore a space. And yeah. In, in the real world sense, redesign a space and rethink what a guardrail, that is what, what a set of stairs could be. And like skate is a world where like, all of that is designed around the idea of being able to explore it with your skateboard and with your friends and share, you just hang out together. It’s to me, it feels oh, like this could actually be huge for them. So when I hear them say, Yeah it’s gonna be ready when it’s ready. I’m like good. Because like you have one shot to really make this work.
And if you fumble this, like it could be major like no pressure to the team over there. Yeah. But the potential, Niki says for this to become a social hub and for it to become like a space where also where things are created, right? Like they, they mentioned that there was a, there’s a part of the world where you could basically make these weird sort of-
Niki: Collabo zones.
Paul: Yeah. The Labo zones where you could just make really wacky levels and stuff. And I was like that, I was just shaking my head damn. I think they figured it out. Like they figured out a way to make again, GTA online and track mania, fall guys, whatever, Fortnite. It’s just it makes so much sense,
Niki: Okay, this is a question that there is a correct answer for. But only, I think only I know the correct answer. okay. The Xbox 360 came out. Remember that?
John: You don’t remember it, but I do. Yeah.
Niki: I- shut up. (John laughs) The Xbox 360 came out and they were like, it’s got Xbox live on it.
What game implemented online the best do you think in that generation of gaming? There is a correct answer.
Paul: Oh, there is. The first thing I thought of was maybe Halo 3?
Niki: Okay. That’s maybe there are two correct answers.
John: I mean, I I was also thinking halo 3. To be honest.
Niki: It’s Halo 3 or Burnout Paradise.
John: Oh, Burnout paradise is pretty good. Yeah.
Niki: Burnout paradise was nuts because it was drop in, drop out the way. It seems like this skate is going to be? All you had to do to start an online game was while you were driving, you just hit the D pad and it would pull up a phone thing on the right hand side or the screen and you would just hit invite the person on your friend’s list.
And then they would accept the invite and they would pull in on the street that they were in, in their game in your world. And it would just be like a seamless. Seamless kind of integration. And then I think after that, EA was like, oh, but we can charge money for every other thing. Yeah. Fuck that.
Like, why would we make it easy? but I think if carrying that ideology forward, like the burnout paradise, like this is just a space to hang out. Yeah. Which like you said, Paul is what skating is. And it seems like you can say a lot in these. it like dev diaries. You can script these and say a lot, but also like it’s so it takes so much more effort to lie about this shit than it does to just be honest about it.
Niki: I think anyway. And it seems like these people care about the thing that they’re making. And also like you don’t, I don’t know, you don’t say we’re not gonna put it out until it’s ready, unless someone has actually told you. we’re not gonna let you, we’re like you don’t have to put it out until it’s ready.
I don’t think, I do think that this is gonna come out next year, but I don’t know. I like, I feel like I trust this team, even though I have literally no reason to trust this team, cuz it’s owned by EA.
John: I do feel like there is a little bit of a sea change in some of the teams. I do feel like the kind of disastrous stuff that’s happened at BioWare and Battlefield maybe made some of these satellite teams go.
“Wow. We have to be like way better and push back on some aspects of this.” And I think like a lot of lessons from like Battlefront 2, with all the the micro transaction stuff that like went so bad for them. That it’s one of the rare examples that I can look at as Something corporate did that was so unpopular that they were like, holy shit, we should actually probably examine the way we do a lot of things.
Niki: Yeah. Maybe let the developers who told us this was a bad idea and we shouldn’t do it. Maybe they know what’s correct.
Paul: Listen to them.
John: Listen to them. It’s I do think that and this is a wonderful segue. I do think most devs. Despite what some people would think, do think about how to make money from their games early and often, but it’s like the corporate people that think about those things think about them in a who different and terrible way. The former EA head John uh,
how do you say his name? John Riccitiello.
Niki: Buca di Beppo.
John: John Buca di Beppo. He used now at unity and of course made waves this week when he said yeah, I’ll just read the whole thing, “Ferrari and other high end car manufacturers still use clay and carving knives. It’s a very small portion of the gaming industry that works that way. And some of these people are my favorite people in the world to fight with they’re the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people. They’re also some of the biggest fucking idiots.” So he-
Paul: Wait what? He said that?
John: Yeah, he said that in an interview with pocket gamer.biz yesterday about Unity-
Niki: I love that website.
-About Unity’s purchase of iron source, which is a advertising ad stack platform valued at about $11 billion a year ago.
The purchase is $4.4 billion. Iron source is known for putting malware into a bunch of it’s advertising.
Paul: (sarcasticallye) Oh, cool!
John: They’re on a ton of watch lists. They’re on a ton of blacklists. They have headquarters in Tel Aviv, I believe. And then they’re just a massive, they have Shenzhen offices, Tokyo bunch of they’re-
they’re a huge company and they provide a lot of- ad based and consumer transaction technology and unity is presumably going to bake this into the unity platform in order to make it easier for mobile developers, especially to monetize their games. Anyway.
Oh, cuz it’s already so fucking hard.
It’s so hard. I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to actually say his name correctly. John Riccitiello. He said all of this stuff. And if you recall, from 2007 to 2013, he was the head of EA. And that’s when their stock prices actually hit the, that hit the skids pretty hard. And
Niki: Yeah, so like he didn’t learn anything, huh?
John: He didn’t really learn anything.
Niki: Like he didn’t look at like, How he got fired from his job basically-
John: Now, let’s not do, let’s not do a character assassination. He did resign in his resignation was accepted by the board, but yes,
Niki: okay. I too love to resign for my position of CEO of the company- (they all laugh)
John: and for it to be accepted with no questions asked yeah.
Niki: With no questions at all. that’s bizarre. I don’t know how you, I don’t know how you make that. I know how you make that decision. But I don’t know how you make that decision in the face of epic being like, actually we make way more money, like way more money if we make this stuff free. Yep.
Like so much more money if we make this stuff free. If we just like. Take a cut later or like maybe don’t even take a cut at all. Yeah. And just move on the Goodwill because we have more money than God. So it’s okay. Uhhuh, if it’s epic is closed right now and now, like I understand that like they fucked up real bad, which is why they instituted this.
But epic is off for the month. Yeah. Like they don’t come back until mid August. Which is only a thing you do if you have an obscene amount of money . But also any sort of cognizance about the way that yeah. Games are made. And it just doesn’t seem like this dude who is in charge of the biggest game engine on the planet.
It doesn’t seem like he gets it.
John: Well, and he was real mad. This morning he posted a tweet. That’s basically, he just said, it says, “click bait. This was taken outta context,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. This quote that I’m about to read to you is in my opinion. Worse than the other one, but it’s in no way taken outta context.
This is what he said: “I’ve seen great games fail because they turned- they tuned their compulsion loop to two minutes. When it should have been an hour, sometimes you wouldn’t even notice the product difference between a massive success and tremendous fail, but for this tuning and what it does to the attrition rate, there isn’t a developer on the planet that wouldn’t want that knowledge.”
Now, the idea of a compulsion loop. To be baked into your video game as early as possible. I find that to be way more grotesque than saying artists are fucking idiots, cuz we are, artists are fucking idiots who cares. But this idea of putting a compulsion that’s so gross and so fucking stupid.
Niki: It’s also like why say that out loud?
John: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Niki: Nobody’s making you say that.
John: No, one’s making you say any of this.
Paul: Just stepping on rakes left and right.
John: Yeah. So I don’t know the skate thing and plus this guy being just the dirt worst made me think a lot about like how it seems like big companies are learning lessons from a lot of these mistakes. And then some people like John Richie don’t seem to be making any of those connections. But weirdly I think, but weirdly EA seems forward thinking in this moment, which is so weird.
Niki: I think it’s like, it seems like cuz Andrew Wilson’s still in charge of EA.
John: Yeah. Correct.
Niki: Which is wild to me.
John: Yep. Yeah. I agree.
Niki: All that seems to have happened is that he was like, okay, I’m just gonna not do anything. And you’ll never see me again. I’ll just, I’ll step back. And I guess I’ll let the people who work here, run the company or whatever ’cause I, cuz I guess I, I guess we hired them in they’re good at their jobs. So like we’ll let them, we’ll let them do their thing and we’ll see if it works. And it has worked. So like you have to actively you have to actively try to handicap your people this way by saying shit like this for no reason by acquiring literal malware distributors for no reason.
Did you know that unity owns Parsec? I just found that out three minutes ago. They, when I was like, who else does, what else does unity own?
John: They have made a series of I will say interesting purchases over the past couple years.
Paul: Yeah. What else do I have installed on my machine right now that they currently own?
Niki: Probably just Parsec, but they own Weta Digital the people who made the monkeys real.
John: Now Niki, please explain that.
Niki: What’s up? There the people who made the monkeys real. There were a lot of people were saying the monkeys weren’t real. And then they made planet of the apes to show you that the monkeys were real. And then waited digital, made the planet of the apes movie.
Paul: Oh. Got it.
Niki: They also made the blue people in Avatar.
John: Now how much did they buy Weta Digital for? Because I have that information in front of me if you don’t.
Niki: I don’t know, because I’m reading the blog on unity.com
John: $1.63 billion. B. Billion..
Niki: wait, but how much did they buy the malware company for?
John: It’s $4.4 billion.
Niki: Interesting. (laughs) Now okay. Uhhuh. That’s good for money, right?
John: Yeah. Iron source was genuinely valued at 11 billion a year ago. I think, because the digital advertising space has seen such a downturn in the past year of that evaluation has drastically changed.
Yeah. But yeah, that’s that’s yeah. They also bought Zeva dynamics, which is a VFX company based in Vancouver. They, yeah. They’re they did rest AR, which is a computer vision, deep learning company. They did a multiplayer networking framework, M L a P, which that was back in 20 yeah, that parsec one was 320 million back in August, 2021.
That’s cheap. Yeah. That was a steal. Yeah. I don’t understand how discord didn’t slide in to get that. Remember when telltale exploded. And I was when that was when I was working here and I would every single day be like, why doesn’t Netflix buy this company? Like, why doesn’t Netflix buy this company?
Yeah. Like why doesn’t net? What about Netflix? What about Netflix buying this company? Yeah. And I realized it was fine cause they were to fired all of them. Anyway. But I this, it seems like unity is trying to be, what if Epic was like outwardly evil.
Right. Yeah. Which is so weird because unity has built such an unbelievable amount of good will from its inception. It has been a champion of independent development to be able to make triple a looking games for essentially free. And that is it’s staggering to see a company build so much good will and then piss it away. But I suppose that’s the general vibe of, capitalism, eventually everything comes around.
Yeah. Just in, in light of, I think, I, I wanna kind of button this up with returning to skate and returning to games that might play with their their monetization strategies. I, I’m excited about Forza Motorsport, the new, the, I guess it is also unnumbered version of the new, I guess I would say more serious way to do Forza stuff.
I can see horizon doing something like skate is doing now.
Niki: Oh easy. And then as, especially as these, that is like a. That is a realization of all the shit. This is the fastest Xbox you’ve ever seen. Because like the we’ve put Mexico is here. Also, if you want to just go to fucking, I don’t know, you wanna go back to Africa?
Yeah. Or like you click on this and then you just go and it has the entirety of this game world. Like that. Yeah. That- that absolutely makes sense and is definitely a way that I can see. That moving and again, like I would tell, I would talk to you about this John yesterday. But you can’t-
you can’t like walk five feet on the Xbox without tripping over a Microsoft or an electronic arts game. Because you, when you get game pass, you get EA access or EA play or whatever it’s called now. Yeah. And you already have licenses to all of these games anyway. , you know what probably they don’t need to do anymore? Sell like $60 copies of Madden or FIFA anymore.
Paul: Or F1.
Niki: Or F1 because like people already, they already have them, right? Like you’ve already made the decision that like, that actually is not important to you money wise, is selling individual copies of Madden. So the thing I told you yesterday, John, I was like, this to me, seems like a thinly veiled, Trojan horse to figure out if the market is amenable to what if we made Madden free to play. And what if we made FIFA free to play? And we just as a, move, a quote, move of Goodwill, and be like, listen, the roster updates are free every year and we’re just gonna lean hard into ultimate team cuz that’s, what’s making the money anyway.
John: Yeah. But my only thing is that. The economics of let’s bring skate back and the way we do it is this interesting monetization, strategy. Okay. Like we weren’t making money with skate before bef for the past decade and now we’re going to be making money with skate, even if it is not at a margin that we are familiar with, it could be a super amazing success story and make them, a ton of money and make them more than they ever would’ve if they had priced it at 60 bucks, that might be true. My only thing with FIFA and Madden. Specifically those two is that those games still make money hand over fucking fist.
John: And so the move to say, now these are platforms that are free to play, but we’re gonna lean really heavily into the parts that already basically make this extra income for us. They would have to be so sure that it would make more than the oodles of money that they’re already making. So that’s my only but it’s because they keep making Madden bad every year and it keeps not mattering.
Niki: That’s true.
Paul: I think it’s like a I think it’s one of those things where like Niki was saying, I think if this test proves to work. Sure. Yeah. It like, I’ve noticed it. We talked about this recently, Niki, about F1, about how there are so many, like bizarre choices being made and it’s still built off the skeleton of a, of what you know, is an aging engine at this point.
Yeah. And, it makes you wonder man I would love it if they just were able to take time and actually , build off of modes that worked in previous years, but didn’t get carried over for whatever reason, because they have to hit the ground running to make, the deadline for the next year, for the next season.
So it, if this works which, I think it will because I think,
John: yeah, I do too.
Paul: It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be tough though, in my mind, I’m sure they. Brilliant people working on this at the moment, but like skate is such an interesting and skateboarding is such an interesting sport, if want, if we’re thinking about it in that perspective, because it’s gonna be a challenge for them to, like we were saying earlier that skate is the idea of skate is so cool.
Like drop in, drop out, you hang out with folks. Can’t really do that with F1, for example, or like Madden-
Niki: That could be a social space, like in 2K. And then you went around by a skateboard. Oh shit.
John: Oh shit.
Paul: Oh shit.
Niki: They’ve got skateboards.
Paul: Oh, fuck.
John: Oh fuck.
Niki: But yeah, you’re right, Paul, like it does like those games also aren’t conducive in a social way to that way of play either. But I wonder how many people John are just buying Madden every year because the roster is new.
John: don’t know. I’m, I am not the- oddly enough, I’m no longer the target demographic of those games because I don’t play ultimate team like so I am actually to be clear, I’ve not purchased a Madden and I think four years EA census codes for those.
But but if I had I’d be mad every year just because yeah, it is, that’s all that’s happening. Is the rosters turning.
Paul: yeah, I think it’s just another one of those things where it’s the game that the person who buys, one or two games max a year and all their friends are like, “yo, you gettin’ that new FIFA?” and I got friends like that.
If they could, especially with like cross play and just it being a live service thing, like it could become like Fortnite for skater bros and they could effectively do that for football fans and F1 fans. So it’s like they see a crack in the wall and they’re gonna just they’re really making sure that skate is a testing ground.
I hope they take their time with it, but I also like going back to the developers themselves and, even just like skateboarding culture for the most part, right? Like for the good part of skateboarding culture, it’s yeah. Like we’re just here to have fun and practice a thing that we really we’re really passionate about.
And we really don’t want anyone to get hurt, so to speak. That’s not our intention. Like I, I feel, but at the same time, there is a understanding here, right? Like we mentioned earlier, capitalism, I’m sure like it, it does need to be sustainable to some degree. Yeah. I hope they can strike a good balance.
I don’t know…
Niki: Just don’t fuck up. Easy. Just make the game good.
John: (laughs) Just don’t fuck up.
Yeah. Nail it. Nail the landing.
Yeah I’m excited to see where Skate goes. I know. That’s where we started. I think I’m also with you, Niki. I am pretty honestly optimistic about their approach.
To be honest. I think it’s something I think will work specifically for that game. And that team seems. Uniquely equipped to deal with it. I think they’re being open about the right stuff. And I don’t know, I’m excited about it and I’m excited in a kind of a morbid way to see how the rest of the industry is gonna change with some of these these big decisions.
Yeah, thanks to thanks to both of you for hanging out. I really appreciate it.
Niki: Thank you, John.
John: Yeah. Yeah!