Reading this article about free to play games on the iOS store made me legitimately feel sick. I mean, Dragon Vale, which is one of the most grossing (free) games on there — is making $400,000 PER DAY. That’s the cost of my remaining mortgage, PER DAY. $109,500,000 per year. This is me, staring down 25 years of mortgage to pay off what these motherfuckers earned since I ate breakfast this AM. For their iOS game.

The comments field is a bizarre setpiece of people either saying “Yeah! Go little developers, or alternately devs saying “how do I get in on this action?'”. I can’t square it in my head, it makes me feel dizzy. Most good, Uncharted-quality games cost… what? $50 million? To make? I have no idea. An entire studio of hundreds, maybe thousands, of developers spread out across the entire world all laboring at once for a year to create Dead Space or whatever. Then there’s these… probably like, 5 guys. Each making a cool 20 million per year spread evenly, on digital rent from Dragon Vale.

It makes me feel… I dunno… like, “I’m a programmer. I could program that. Of course I could.” Then I remember about how those other guys mortgaged their house and everything they owned and went bust on the iOS store. Remember, I guess, that there are millions of people striving for this pie and only 0.0001% of them or whatever get rich.

It puts things in perspective though. How many dollars do you think that the guys who made Spec Ops… or Sleeping Dogs got paid to do what they did? So good and satisfying. So many orders of magnitude greater than Dragon Vale. So much blood and sweat for what? An $80k per year paycheque until you got fired because nobody bought your awesome AAA game. What possible impetus beyond just passion for the medium would keep someone going, creating the kinds of things I want to play when free-to-play (do you want to buy more coins yes/no?) makes probably a hundred times more than most small businesses per year.

I make it a point (ususally) to buy games that are specifically NOT free to play because I get annoyed at the constant trolling and prompting for me to rate things, or to buy widget X or Y. This is not the kind of game design I want. This a-la-carte, first hit is free methodology is not conducive to good holistic play experiences or to good art. It brings down the caliber of gaming across the board. Who is buying this? As the Vita dies a slow and painful death, WHO IS BUYING THIS?

These guys, driving their ferrarris. I wonder what they do with it all? Buy private islands? Invest in the art game scene? Spend it all on Dom P and bling bling? Philanthropy? How do you even justify that? How can you possibly justify it? The Last Guardian is probably never going to come out and I can’t play Pandora’s Tower… but these guys can make, like, no shit Oil and Gas Mining Company profits from Dragon Vale.

There needs to be a pay it forward clause here somewhere. You get to keep 20 million, OK, but the rest needs to go to advancing the art.

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