Free-to-play, it's arguably one the biggest seismic shifts in video games ever. Some of us play, some of us don't. But just how badly are some of these free-to-play games exploiting players?
Answer: pretty badly.
In an insane guest post over at Touch Arcade, one anonymous producer explained just how much data they have on free-to-play users and what they do with that data.
This isn’t an article about the evils of free to play manipulation to get you to spend money. This is about how we can target you, because we (and our partners) know everything about you. We know where you live, we know your income level, we know your relationships, your favorite sports teams, your political preferences. We know when you go to work, and where you work. We can target an event to start for you when we know you have a long weekend coming up. We own you.
So that's pretty bad, but this might be the worst part:
And if you are a whale, we take Facebook stalking to a whole new level. You spend enough money, we will friend you. Not officially, but with a fake account. Maybe it’s a hot girl who shows too much cleavage? That’s us. We learned as much before friending you, but once you let us in, we have the keys to the kingdom. We will use everything to figure out how to sell to you. I remember we had a whale in one game that loved American Football despite living in Saudi Arabia. We built several custom virtual items in both his favorite team colors and their opponents, just to sell to this one guy. You better believe he bought them. And these are just vanity items. We will flat out adjust a game to make it behave just like it did last time the person bought IAP. Was a level too hard? Well now they are all that same difficulty.
That's just a chunk of it. Seriously, this article is absolutely fascinating/terrifying and a must read for anyone interested in mobile or free-to-play gaming.