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Players should be able to tip developers after beating a game says ex-Blizzard boss

Players should be able to tip developers after beating a game says ex-Blizzard boss
Red Dead Redemption 2 – do Rockstar deserve a tip? (Picture: Rockstar Games)

A system to allow people to give tips to games developers has been suggested, if you’re particularly impressed by a single-player game.

The ongoing plague of industry layoffs is an unfortunate example of just how expendable most publishers feel developers are. Pay for most game creators is not nearly as high as you might think, and so former Blizzard president Mike Ybarra has suggested that their pay be supplemented with tips.

Ybarra is one of the few executive casualties of the layoffs, although it’s not clear whether he jumped or was pushed, when Microsoft cut 1,900 jobs back in January – including several hundred at Blizzard.

Apart from anything that probably means pay rises aren’t on the agenda at the moment, but Ybarra has an idea for alternative compensation: ‘I wish I could give these folks another $10 or $20 [£8 or £16] because it was worth more than my initial $70 and they didn’t try to nickel and dime me every second.’

He was referring specifically to single-player games, hence the reference to them not trying to ‘nickel and dime’ him. Which implies that somehow developers receive some of the profits from the microtransactions in multiplayer games, which he, of all people, should know is absolutely not the case.

‘I’ve thought about this idea for a while, as a player, since I’ve been diving into single-player games lately,’ wrote Ybarra on Twitter.

‘When I beat a game, there are some that just leave me in awe of how amazing the experience was,’ he said. ‘Games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Gears Of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Elden Ring, etc.

‘I know $70 is already a lot, but it’s an option at the end of the game I wish I had at times. Some games are that special.’

I’ve thought about this idea for a while, as a player, since I’ve been diving into single player games lately. When I beat a game, there are some that just leave me in awe of how amazing the experience was. At the end of the game, I’ve often thought “I wish I could give these… — Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) April 11, 2024

This is, of course, inspired by American tipping culture, which is based on the fact that American waiters and other service staff are not paid a living wage and so it has to be supplemented by quasi-optional donations from customers.

As Ybarra acknowledges, the idea of tipping has slowly crept into many other industries in America and is becoming more common in countries where there is no need to tip, to ensure an employee is sufficiently compensated for their work.

‘I know most will dislike this idea,’ said Ybarra. ‘I realise we are tired of ‘tipping’ in everything else – but I view this different from a pressure to tip type scenario many face and give feedback on.’

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Apart from anything else, it’s not clear how the tip money would make its way to the developers, and only the developers, rather than just the publishers.

It may be viable for indie studios though, some of which already have virtual tip jars, although never usually in the games themselves.

As several users have suggested, in replying to Ybarra’s tweet, it’s usually easy to get additional money to indie developers if you want to, by either buying microtransactions or gifting another copy of the game on Steam – whether the recipient wants it or not.

Elden Ring – most Japanese workers take deep offence at being offered a tip (Picture: Bandai Namco)

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