First, please read this: The Game Bethesda Needs to Make.
Recently Bethesda announced the release of the latest iteration in one of my all time favourite video game franchises: Fallout 4.
During their 30 minute or so announcement they highlighted many of the new features which would be included in the game. They were essentially massive improvements on systems they had introduced in Skyrim, with a particular focus on crafting. You may recall that from my past post that this was a key element in my “dream game”. Not only has Bethesda done it, they’ve done it brilliantly. I can’t wait for this game to hit. There are still many other features that are missing, but this is a big leap forward.
I’ve had some time to think. Thoughts about my game have marinated in my brain since the post, and a new iteration of the idea has bubbled up in a purified form.
Cross platform/console, free to play, open world, and open crafting all stay the same. Include the small settlement construction elements that Bethesda has added to Fallout 4. Massive game world.
Real world map. City building, teams/factions and any element of formalized co-operation. We don’t need this anymore, you’ll soon see why.
The silver briefcase.
Before we get to that, a little context. You may or may not have heard of the term “eSports”. ESports is the name applied to professional video gaming. For those who laugh/chuckle, many of the largest eSports offer international tournaments with several million dollar top prizes. Games like League of Legends have made eSports accessible and extremely popular. Over 150 million tuned in to watch last season’s world championship, not including a sold out Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. Not only are eSports are extremely popular with spectators, they’re beginning to draw major sponsorship contracts from multi-national organizations (Samsung sponsors two, not one, two pro League of Legends teams). Players net hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in tournament winnings, more in sponsorship endorsements and advertising payments from streaming services like Twitch.
This is where the new element of my game comes in. Working title: “The Game” (Let The Game begin).
As before, players spawn in a home in a random neighbourhood. But this time the system randomly selects a few people and places a silver briefcase in their inventory. This briefcase contains the co-ordinates to a random location somewhere in the game world, and a keycard. At the co-ordinates, and only accessible with the keycard, is a cash prize. A real cash prize. Something like $100,000. Maybe even have a prize that increases with every day that goes by without a winner.
Players without briefcases, and there are way more of these than with the silver briefcase, hunt down these players in hopes of securing the briefcase for themselves. Players with have to find the co-ordinates by creating navigational tools, and keep the masses from getting their precious briefcase. First one to the co-ordinates and swipes their card wins.
The game requires a massive world to be built, almost an analogue of our real world, to allow the game to last a while, and to ensure in-game population doesn’t get too dense. Players can be as creative or as fast as they want in their pursuit of the prize. Since it’s a one prize award, any teams that form will be informal and at the whim of players in game. Players with briefcases are easy to spot: the briefcase is strapped to their back and locked. When a player is killed they take an equipment and item hit, but not totally reset. A briefcase player loses the briefcase permanently, and their killer has the option to take the case or destroy it. If people chose to destroy the case, that’s one less case in the game. Any new player who joins the game during the season has the potential to be given a silver briefcase, carrying on the game.
There will be also be a leaderboard tracking people who’ve eliminated the most players who carry briefcases. No prizes for this rank (or maybe there is), but bragging rights may spur an informal contest, increasing the challenge faced by players with briefcases jockeying for that grand prize.
What happens when the prize is claimed?
Like any sport, there are seasons. When a season is won by a player, this may be a good time to implement major changes, map updates or system upgrades. Once the new season starts, players locations are reset to random start spawns, all items reset. Any store purchases do not, but since they do not impact game-play, players don’t have any advantage by them carrying over. If all of the cases are destroyed, the season finishes and resets as well.
Since this game will be free to players on all platforms, and offering a cash prize, it needs monetization. You could sell in game space to companies for branding on a season by season basis. Partner with companies for season wide sponsorship (Season three brought to you by Ford), or special prize sponsorship for side prizes. In game non-essential items like attire can be also available for micro payments. It should never be that players who pay have any advantage over those who don’t. Perhaps even have a list of playable characters which can be unlocked with micro payments. Weapon visual enhancements. Since the game resets at the beginning of each season, it presents an opportunity to roll out new or bigger monetization opportunities (a new F150 is hidden somewhere in the world. First to find it wins a real one).
You only have to look at Riot Games to see how fiscally successful this can be.
A game like this would explode in popularity and, if done well, wouldn’t require a ton of development after the fact. New characters or towns can be released to keep things fresh and encourage re-playability. With services like Twitch so widely used, advertisers not only get access to the screens of million of participants, but the hundreds of thousands who watch the best players compete. The Game brings the spirit of gladiator like games of old into the 21st century, and nobody gets hurt!