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Who Wants to Log In to Become a Millionaire?

By Paul Nadin on December 08, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Who Wants to Log In to Become a Millionaire?

If you’re the type of person who reads the MMO news, and since you’re here it’s a pretty safe bet, you’ve heard that Zenimax is offering the chance to win one million dollars just for logging into The Elder Scroll Online: Tamriel Unlimited (if you live in the right place, but that’s another story).


It’s a big, bold move that is guaranteed to get lapsed players logging into the game. Sure, many people won’t do anything while they’re in there, but some might, and some of those people might stay. By all accounts the game has had some wonderful changes and additions over the last year, so I imagine they’ll have a great time rediscovering the game.

In other news, Blizzard offered a new hero to be used in Heroes of the Storm if players watched an eSports event featuring HotS. I love this idea, It’s something a little different (just like Cho’Gall, the hero in question) and it points players towards a fun event that they might not have witnessed without the promotion. Wins for everyone!

We’re seeing more and neater ideas to get players to log in all the time, developers and publishers are having to get more creative than ever when promoting their games. I like it, I think it’s fun and I’ll take any excuse to jump onto a bandwagon that feels this good to ride.

If you don’t like these new strategies and shenanigans, I have some bad news for you: They are not going away.

Time was that players would log into the same game day after day for years at a time. We invested, we felt connected, and sometimes we just didn’t feel like we had another option.

Just like when someone like me laments the decline in reading full length novels (which probably isn’t happening, but I’m getting old) in favor of listicles and character-limited micro-blogging on twitter (which isn’t a real problem, it’s just the kind of thing old people like to suggest), we are bombarded with games media in a way that is totally unprecedented.

I remember when only one game was released every year and you had to save up for 2 years to be able to pay for it. Not like these days with your Steam Sales and your Humbly Bundlies.

No attention span, that’s what’s wrong with the youth of today (and every day going back thousands of years, apparently). Now get off my lawn. What was I talking about?

Ah yes, the attention economy. That’s what we live in now, and it’s why promotions, incentives and publicity stunts aren’t going anywhere but into platforms that I’m too out of touch to know about.

The attention economy used to be more stagnant, is the point. There was less to grab our attention, and so there was less shiny to distract us. Obviously in today’s world of MTV and new movies at the Drive-In almost every week, you have to do more if you want your piece of that economy.

As players, we’ve never had it better. Many of the best and most popular games available are free, tons of games are available before they are even finished and if they aren’t there’s a sale just around the corner. We are freer than ever to try all the new shinies, and it’s changed the way we consume games.

Aside from the obvious exceptions, it’s becoming less and less reasonable to assume that what is typically referred to as the ‘core’ market for any kind of game is going to stick with one option for any significant amount of time. That’s not to say games will no longer have their dedicated fans, of course they always will, but players will become more spread out and more prone to dipping in and out of games than ever.

Smart companies are already taking this into consideration, with aggressive post launch DLC plans, tactics designed to get players invested earlier to keep them around longer, and creative marketing pushes like we’ve never seen before.

I think what I’m saying is we should expect to be treated more like a transient group, as eager to return as we are to leave. I’m excited to see where this takes us, and what new ideas studios come up with to stake their claim in the attention economy. Because it’s the 21st century, and everyone rents because no one can afford to buy.