Guess what, guys and gals? I want to give you money!
But I can’t. Instead, I can participate in monetization options. Instead of having the option to say, purchase up front, or purchase at a certain point, or otherwise do something to ensure I can just plain enjoy the content you good folks have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into…
… I can’t.
Let’s take ZeroSummer. Brilliant story, brilliant writing, and after a brief flirtation with StoryNexus a while back, this was the one that hooked me in hard and got me really enjoying it. Here’s how my user experience goes:
Hour 1: Man, I’m really enjoying this story. I’m hooked. This is really awesome. Great way to present interactive fiction. Why do I have an ‘action’ counter? When it ticks down, is the story over? Weird.
Hour 2: … what the **** is this bullshit, I can’t keep reading this story? It wants me to pay money? The hell. Screw this.
Hour 5: … oh, hey, these action points come back? Over time? Uh… huh. No, that still sort of sucks. This story is awesome though. A few more turns won’t hurt.
Hour 6: And now I’m out of actions and only going to get more at a trickle. ****. I want to finish this story tonight. Hm. Okay. How much does this thing cost?
Hour 6.01: AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAAA… No. If this was a one-time payment? For a couple bucks? For sure. But you want this much for these Nex Points, and I’d need to spend almost 10 bucks just to refresh a few hour’s read worth of actions? Fuuuuuuck you, **** no.
Day 2, Hour 1: Yay, actions again. Man, this story is really good.
Day 2, Hour 2: And out of actions again, but this story is excellent. What the hell. The author deserves some money for this entertainment value.
Day 2, Hour 3: … so the only way for me to reward the creator is to buy these bullshit Nexus points? **** sakes. Alright, it has a ‘contact the author’ button here, maybe that resolves into an email address I could at least PayPal a few bucks towards…
Day 2, hour 4: Nope. Nothing. So I can’t send the author money. I can’t even pay to just fucking enjoy this game and story. I have to pay for these bullshit points, that serve only to nag me into buying more when I burn through my actions, all for the privilege to read their story? Y’know what? This is bullshit. This is bullshit and I’m going to read a book I paid for. Actually, that book I paid for? Published by the author online for free, with a PayPal donate link. Who I’ve sent probably 30 bucks across the last 7 years, in addition to ending up buying all of his books in print when they came out. While this cool author guy here who wrote this story? Is getting nothing. Because this “monetization” option is crap.
Devs, Failbetter games? Digital busking would go much further towards generating revenue for your site and these projects. There are excellent systems out there to ensure an equitable split between publishers and authors. I want to support you guys and the games/stories you are creating. But I will not do so under a bullshit “pay as you go for insubstantial points” model. Don’t marry yourself to this shitty model. Open up options for a one-time “purchase” for a particular game. Open up options to accept donations towards further development. Anything that allows for us, the readers, to get into the stories and not be pulled from our enjoyment regularly by immersion-breaking monetization begging.