What is the perfect way to design a game?
Ideally, you either live in Utopia where money no longer exists, you win more money than you ever need in the Lottery, or an eccentric billionaire funds you setting no limitations on what you do. Then… go.
You’d be designing your game completely free from any financial concerns. The objective would simply be to make something fun, exciting, personal, whatever. All design decisions you ever make during development would be utterly untainted by subconscious financial motivations.
That, obviously, is not a particularly likely scenario. Games, generally, need to make money – someone has to pay for development and it’s fairly reasonable to say that someone should be those who play them.
But that means that unless you’re a robot, you’re going to be affected – albeit often subconsciously – by that knowledge, regardless of whether you’re EA or one person in an attic. Given that the best way to design a game would be utterly free from financial concerns then my argument is merely that the more we limit referencing or thinking about money during a game’s design, the better the design will be on average.
So. Make a game, think only about the game, finish, then spend however much time you want contemplating price-point. This is a better way to design a game, as far as I’m concerned, than designing one where the design itself necessitates financial decisions such that there isn’t even a single page in the design document which doesn’t have the word “money” or “cash” or “gems” or “stars” or “marketplace” in it. Unless you’re a robot, that’s going to affect your design decisions whether you like it or not.
THAT is why I’m not a fan of free to play games.
It doesn’t mean they can’t be good. Can’t be great. Can’t be mind-blowingly terrific. But I don’t want to make one or play one.