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The Psychology Behind Ultimate Team's Success

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Old 08-04-2014, 12:43 PM   #33
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Re: The Psychology Behind Ultimate Team's Success

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Originally Posted by jyoung
The tier system that was created by All-Pro Football 2K8 (2 gold players, 3 silver players, 6 bronze players) requires a lot more team building strategy than simply fielding a 99-overall super team, plus it puts every club on a level playing field, regardless of how much time or money users have invested in the mode. That is a system that could easily be implemented into all current versions of Ultimate Team, since they already split players up into "gold" "silver" and "bronze" categories.

EA's NHL series tried something similar by using salary cap restrictions for certain tournaments, but that method doesn't work well, because users will just exploit the system by filling their fourth line and backup goalie position with the lowest-rated cards in the game, which then allows them to put All-Star players on their three other lines.

All-Pro Football 2K8 provided the blueprint for how to do fantasy team modes right, but no other game has followed its lead, largely because the game makers realized that it was more profitable to just let people keep grinding away towards their 99-overall super teams instead of saying, "Here's all the players, here's your team budget, now go figure out the best way to assemble them in a realistic lineup."
I think we both know citing APF 2K8 is the easy way out though. There needs to be a happy medium, one where the developer can make money off these modes (I don't begrudge these companies making extra money if what I'm paying for enhances my experience without always feeling like I'm not spending enough) and where the sim and casual crowd can enjoy the modes as well (there's a reason APF was a one-and-done outing).

These games, if they're interested in longevity with their Card modes, need to make it so that if I choose not to spend any money, through a REASONABLE amount of time, I can attain the same things someone who spends real dollars can attain. The sweet spot is getting a million people to spend $5 instead of getting 100k people spending $50. Obviously, the end result is the same, but every year, less and less people will spend the money and you haven't grown your fan base, you've alienated it.

I just think using a very unsuccessful product as a point of comparison to say what's right with these modes is the wrong way to look at it. Instead, it should be accepted that we as people like to show off our possessions in things we value in life (in this case, we as gamers value things we attain in video games) and talk about how we can get more people to enjoy these modes without feeling swindled every time they drop real money on a pack of cards.
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Old 08-05-2014, 10:57 AM   #34
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Great article. Long time 'franchise' mode sports gamer here and I just could never figure the attraction to these Ultimate Team game modes. They still seam like just such a blatant money suck and wasteful time synch. Don't get it.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:02 AM   #35
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Re: The Psychology Behind Ultimate Team's Success

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Originally Posted by sroz39
I just think using a very unsuccessful product as a point of comparison to say what's right with these modes is the wrong way to look at it.
I would say that All-Pro Football 2K8's commercial failure was caused by it having no league license, no franchise mode, and an intentionally restrictive editor, not caused by the tier system that it was using to construct teams.

The tier system was actually the best idea in the game, since it solves two of online sports gaming's oldest, most significant issues:

1) How can you create a competitively balanced sports game when the default rosters are inherently imbalanced?

2) How do you keep online users from getting bored of facing the same elite teams (Heat/Thunder, Seahawks/49ers, etc.) over and over again?

The current Ultimate Team/My Team system merely replaces the Heat/Thunder teams that everyone picks in Quick Games with copycat 99-overall lineups consisting of Iverson/Jordan/Durant/LeBron/Wilt.

I've seen 200-plus different athletes being used throughout online games of All-Pro Football 2K8. Meanwhile, the same 10 to 12 superstars are being picked repeatedly in NBA 2K14's My Team.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sroz39
There needs to be a happy medium, one where the developer can make money off these modes and where the sim and casual crowd can enjoy the modes as well.
A mode like NHL 14's EA Sports Hockey League already offers two separate ranking/matchmaking systems for "casual" teams and "hardcore" teams.

Ultimate Team could easily adopt the same model, and provide ranking/matchmaking for teams that are built without any restrictions, plus ranking/matchmaking for teams with tier-based restrictions ala All-Pro Football 2K8.

Last edited by jyoung; 08-06-2014 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:59 AM   #36
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I really enjoyed the HUT mode in '12, but the last 2 years have really devolved into a full-on cash grab.
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