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Game Over. No, really... "The Flock" will shutdown after all players die

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Strange premise for a game...

Gameplay and setting, from the official website:
The Flock is an asymmetrical multiplayer thriller. You get to play as one of the agile hunters that make up the Flock, but your goal is to become the hunted Carrier.

As the Carrier you need to shine your light upon objectives placed in the world in order to win the game; while at the same time fending off Flock that attempt to gain the Artifact for themselves! The Flock are vulnerable to the Artifact's light, but their key to survival is to stand still when the light is shined upon them..
--- End quote ---

Aahh... but there's a twist:

From VG24/7:
This is how it works, from our understanding: once the game is released on Steam in Q3 of this year, every time a player dies in the game, it will drop the game population. Once that population reaches zero, “the game will never be purchasable again.”

Only players who have The Flock in their Steam library will then be able to partake in the yet to be announced climactic finale.

After the ending, the game will go offline permanently and no longer be playable.
--- End quote ---

But why?

“A multiplayer game can take players to incredible heights, but at some point gamers will start to play less, get disinterested and stop playing altogether,” said Jeroen Van Hasselt, the studio’s creative director.

“In opposition to other multiplayer games, we want The Flock’s experience to inspire a sense of awe, to keep players eagerly anticipating what is coming next and to end with a memorable climax.”
--- End quote ---

Sounds legit...

I saw news of this recently too and it was definitely intriguing. I'm not enough of a gamer these days to really dive into it and get my money's worth, but I genuinely like that they are trying new things, taking risks. Some of the comments I saw expressed concern at not getting your money's worth when you can't replay a game later, and having replayed some awesome, classic games years later (Deux Ex, Half Life, etc.) I definitely see the value in that argument. However for multiplayer games, although there have been some notable resurgences (or just games that refused to ever die, e.g. Quake III I think), in general one cannot count on having anyone to play with years later, so the "getting my money's worth" argument is a bit less applicable to a multiplayer-only experience I think.

Anyway, like I said I'm happy to see devs taking risks like this. They are, I think, basing some of this on well-known psychological phenomenon, scarcity and people's reaction to it for example, which may well heighten the enjoyment by those who are able to buy-in and really embrace it in the moment. I will be curious to see how it works out.

- Oshyan

I'm curious to see if somebody clever reverse-engineers a server so that people can keep playing.  That would only work for people who bought the game in time though, and also who's to say that Steam wouldn't disable the game at the devs request when "the end" comes?
Or maybe somebody will simply make a clone of the game if the gameplay is that compelling...

The Flock is released on Steam today. "Current Population: 215.358.979"

The first game that ships with a built-in expiration condition? And gets the purchasers to go along with it?

Brilliant marketing move if nothing else. Helps create a steady market for future games, rather than have whole cultures grow up around extremely successful ones like some have. Cuts down on resales and future bootlegging too. Wonder how many other games will eventually have similar tombstones built into them...

Or am I just being cynical right now? ;)


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