Category : Games

Steam refunds and loss aversion

I’ve written about Steam quite a bit before, because it is such an interesting testing ground for both economics and psychology (other than the fact I enjoy playing games on the PC). The digital marketplace in general breaks a lot of the traditional rules and restrictions that markets were assumed to have. Today, I want to focus on one small aspect – refunds. The changing nature of game selection A lot has changed in the games industry, given its mass […]

Red vs Blue

Two of the games I enjoyed most in my youth were the original Unreal Tournament and TimeSplitters 2. Both games were arcade style twitch-shooters at their core, but what made them great was the multitude of game modes and options, great maps, and the ability to play with fairly well programmed AI bots as well as human opponents. There was something else that these games allowed you to do: have more than two different teams (at least for the game […]

The battle for the PC gamer

It’s as if someone has flicked the switch this year in the minds of Microsoft and Sony. It used to be that console manufacturers would focus on getting as many people on their own platform as possible. This meant drawing in people from every other market to theirs. This is fine in principle. The problem is that in practice, consumers are not homogeneous in this way. There are plenty of people for whom a certain product line will not work, […]

DLC meets behavioural economics

A little while back, I wrote about some of the theory behind present biased behaviour. People who are present biased (i.e. place a disproportionately high value to things that happen right now, relative to things that happen in the future) can be aware of the fact that they are (‘sophisticated’), or not (‘naive’). One interesting and important implication of the theory is that sophisticated people will respond to commitment devices that are costly. For example, Gine and others published a […]

Price Discrimination on Steam

Price Discrimination is a well-known concept in microeconomics. The basic idea is quite simple. In a competitive market, firms have to accept an equilibrium price. This is because competition, in theory, should drive prices down to somewhere close to marginal cost (the cost of producing one extra good). However, quite often in real life, a firm has some market power that enables them to set prices independently of other firms. This is possible for a number of reasons e.g. monopoly/oligopoly, […]

Linux Porting: A Golden Opportunity

Steam OS was released in its first iteration almost a year ago. It was Valve’s attempt to move towards a PC gaming operating system that emulated the experience of consoles, without the impracticalities and overheads of Windows. It also avoid various legal and licensing issues with Microsoft that are costly and undesirable for games developers. For those of you that aren’t aware, Steam OS is a Debian-based Linux distribution, centred around Valve’s Steam content distribution and management platform. Early experiments […]

Framing Mario

  Whilst watching a Mike Matei video on Super Mario 3D World (apparently the best game around at the moment), I noticed that he was hitting on a nerve. Watch the video above to listen to his argument. In summary, he is unhappy that after a few failed attempts at completing a level, you are given the option of using a ‘White Tanooki Suit’. This allows you to effectively become invincible for the rest of that level, taking all of […]

“Ma, build me a PC for Christmas!”

When our current (and soon to be previous) generation of games consoles released, it became apparent that the hardware was on track to converge with the kinds of things you’d find in a modern home computer. Both the 360 and PS3 use graphics cards that mirrored what was available in PCs upon their release, as well as the kinds of multi-core processors you see in desktop machines. The PS3 initially even allowed you to install Linux on it, before the […]

FPS > Graphical Superiority

I wanted to make a quick point about the current trend in console gaming. This generation of consoles (i.e. the PS3 and Xbox 360) have all touted ‘High-Definition’ as their key selling point and progression point over the previous generation. Both of these consoles are capable of outputting at 1080p resolutions. As this generation seems to be nearing the end of its lifespan, there are a couple of things that I’ve noticed. Resolution It seems that the vast majority of […]

Top 20 Favourite Games of All Time

In the world of digital entertainment, some games have transcended the boundaries and managed to create artistic, intelligent and immersive experiences that cannot be matched. I thought I’d sit down and think about the computer games that have had the biggest impact – on me and the gaming world. Here are my top 20 games of all time. 20. Worms: Armageddon (PC – 1999) Probably the most innovative multiplayer strategy game ever made. The Worms series throws teams of up […]

Why I love… Elasto Mania

Elasto Mania became a cult classic game around 8 years ago when I was in high school. It swept our school network (and many others) like a class A drug – you know it will suck you into its world, but the draw of being there is too strong to resist. Not that I have any experience with narcotics, mind. It was created by independent Hungarian developer Balázs Rózsa in 2000 – someone who surely has earned the respect of […]