Scamware: A Proposal

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#1 by Ileca
2022-01-16 at 20:55
< report >Now that I am out of the mobage hell, I wish to help my fellow damned by warning them about how much they will be fucked by those predatory companies.
With few more games in my bag, I have more indsight, and believe my previous proposal was quite spot on. Doesn't mean it's complete. I mean, it would be too easy, right? Can't bring a proposal to Yorhel on a plate lol.
I am disappointed that I didn't have the time to read a VN from maybe: Interactive Stories like they have that godawful system where choices are locked with in-game currency. Sorry but Becoming the Alpha Werewolf's Mate wasn't my cup of tea. Couldn't see the screen, the cringe was making me cry too much.

Anyway.

-- Commercial
-- Commercial (free demo included) <-- Never encountered this
-- Freemium
-- Freeware

The distinction between commercial (free demo included) and freemium is that, in freemium, the commercial content is separated from the main story.

Guidelines will have to include a section about gacha.
A gacha will be considered commercial content if it doesn't satisfy one of those two criteria:
-the gacha is unlimited in "free" tries
-the gacha is unlimited in time
It works on the assumption that you will be an unlucky player that need unlimited tries and time to win all the content. To get that content, if you don't have unlimited "free"tries, none of those "free" tries will unlock the content and you will need to resort to paying. Same, if the gacha is a time limited event like A Love Poem to Skadi from Tears of Themis, you can ace the game and have as much tries as it is physically possible during the event's period, you won't get all the content coz you are cursed and only paying will make you reach completion.
It means that Tears of Themis will be considered freemium because content is locked behind time-limited gacha.

Same as freeware but with DLCs? Why not move the DLCs to separate releases? This definition really needs fleshing out.
It could be done this way, I guess. I am not against it because I read some games like that and I don't like the idea that I didn't 100% them and should technically mark them as dropped.
It will be dirty, though. Very dirty.
Releases or VN entries? DLC should have their separate VN pages. I think Beliar and me came to an understanding about that. However, that premium content is well integrated. It behaves like a patch... meaning releases...

Freemium I encountered were:
-you can buy the extra stories at any time but you can't read them until you read everything. As you can see, you can't create a separated VN page because you need to finish the main game.
-Tears of Themis again, which is a sociage. It has time limited events i.e. gacha has time limited cards (I am not sure everybody understand but extra stories are linked to those cards and you can read them only when you maxed out the cards). Those are big enough to have separate pages. Are we ready to create new VN for each events from those sociage? I only know of A Love Poem to Skadi which is out right now but the wiki page talks about nine events.
This is pretty reasonable but I know two sociage here that spam events every 1-2 weeks, for years.

I wouldn't be surprised if we had some game like maybe: Interactive Stories, with choices using paid tokens. In this case, I can't see a way to separate releases or VN because we are talking about choices.
With the freemium option, we don't have to care about the many designs those human trashes can make up to mess with our heads.


Next is the most important part imo. What are the concrete roadblocks designed to make our life as difficult as possible. Every scamware is very different from each other.
You will have ticking boxes to describe the shit they throw at your face:

-This game cannot be finished in one sitting unless you pay
-This game contains grinding that will be removed or eased up if you pay
-This game hinders your reading with advertising videos
-This game includes banner(s) shown during your reading that cannot be removed, or can if you pay
-This game includes banner(s) shown during your reading that can be removed (pop-up)
-This game has unavoidable gacha mechanics with tries you can buy

Once again, the rule will be that we are a player that suck. Meaning that if the game can technically be finished without watching a single ads, even if it's really easy and generous, the fact is that we are a player that sucks asses and we WILL watch ads so the game must be marked as such.

About grinding. Grinding is any gameplay that can be "removed or eased up if you pay". This way, it is not subject to interpretation.

I hope I made myself clearer apart the final considerations?
#2 by urmom
2022-01-16 at 22:17
< report >I'm absolutely for indicating which games are gatcha and freemium. I absolutely despise them and wish to avoid them at all cost.
#3 by n8marezero
2022-01-17 at 23:11
< report >I'm absolutely for NOT adding gachashit to the database in any way and removing any existing ones. Didn't we have a rule that nothing shall ever be added that cannot be archived locally? In other words, if a VN is part of an online service (server sided data you access via client) that could will shut down at some point and make the story inaccessible forever (Youtube story compilation or CGs/sprites on the panda is not sufficient archiving) it should not be in the database.

Now that I am out of the mobage hell, I wish to help my fellow damned by warning them about how much they will be fucked by those predatory companies.
Follow these two rules and you won't "fall prey" to this garbage:
1. don't play mobage/gachashit
2. if you must play, then never pay

I'm aware that it's common for otome mobile VNs to have you pay for each route separately. That's also seen as "predatory" by many, but it's just another form of DLC. Having those in the db is fine. Otherwise you'd have to remove all the DLC that are released for eroge like BugBug appends that come with the magazine or store-exclusive preorder bonuses or DLC patches distributed in other ways. Gacha are a different type of game and distribution.
It means that Tears of Themis will be considered freemium because content is locked behind time-limited gacha. [...]
If it's a true gacha it should be removed from the db altogether. If it was a partial that requires buying individual routes, the releases should be added as such. But a "VN" that has time-limited events that require buying or gambling for content AND said content being locked behind story/event progression and potentially becoming inaccessible if you don't catch them at the right time? That shit is definitive proof it shouldn't be on here in the first place, not as separate entries/releases nor the game itself. Why even argue about something ridiculous like that? If it's not a complete game without "live service" events it should not be considered a VN. Otherwise we need to allow FGO and every other gacha, which is wrong. Go make a gdb (gacha data base) sister site.
And if that Tears of Themis game is to stay on vndb you should ignore those event-exclusive scenes and NOT make sub entries for them because it's madness to add entries for every little thing in fucking gacha. It's bad enough we have those crowdfunding and indie games that have multiple releases for partials (like v0.03, v0.035, v0.04 all with their own release entries). Those should all be bundled as 1 partial release that gets updated and add a full release entry once/if that ever comes out (most don't). If people want to stay up-to-date on these kusoge they should follow the link to the homepage. vndb shouldn't be used to add every new partial like a newsfeed, but that's a different issue I might make a thread about.

-- Commercial (free demo included) <-- Never encountered this
What even would this be? If it's commercial you get the whole thing by paying, so why would it include a demo. And if it's a demo/trial that can be upgraded to full game, it is still just a trial version. Demos/trials and full product have to be separate.
-- Freemium
-- Freeware
The former shouldn't be part of the db. What if a free game has an optional buy button to pay for it like a donation? Does that make it Freemium (free + premium)? How many VNs with other "premium" ingame options like gacha or tokens are even in the current db, or is this just a means to pave the way for adding gachashit in the future? Because you shouldn't. Most VNs do not have "premium" content aside from the aforementioned Append scenarios or technically also Fan Disks in Japan, all of which are separate db entries (releases); or crowdfunding stuff in Western VNs with maybe backer-exclusive content (should shit like that even be added when it's only available for paypigs and potentially pirates after a leak? That's somewhat similar to that totally existing fantranslation exclusive to TRUE HAPPOUBI JIN FANS lol. Both cases are content gated behind "premium memberships" and those shouldn't be added to the db).
Anyway "Freemium" is a mistake for vndb and so is gacha.

Mark appends and such as DLC, those otome type VNs either as full releases or each route you can buy as a partial release (sometimes both), FDs as separate entries. Anything that relies on servers/accounts/events to play, don't add. Gacha? Not a VN. Problem solved.. and nothing changes?


About gacha itself:
As retarded as gachashit is with their limited time offers/events, limited time resources to progress, and how much they have flashing ads popping up into your face all over the screen to buy premium currency, pulls and other wastes of money.. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY. If you pay it's on you. They are only "predatory" if you're weak and can't control yourself and your wallet.
Maybe there are some gacha/mobage that you absolutely have to pay to progress (instead of waiting for resources/time limits) but the solution for you the player would be to just not play them (and absolutely not add that crap to the db). Far too many people struggle to not fall for DLCs, MTX, crowdfunding scams and now that NFT crypto stuff.
Can I interest you in this water filter? It's really amazing and efficient. I sell them all the time and make bank. Normally I sell them for $49.99 a set, but for you I can sell one at $29.99! Wait, that's not all. You can have 200 water filters and a license to sell them, right now for a mere $2999.99! You'll save so much money and double.. No, triple your investment! Just sign this legal paper here you don't even need to read it. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF WATER FILTER SALESMEN. /s

FFS put your credit cards away, don't link your bank or paypal to everything that can drain your money, set that smartphone aside for more than 5 seconds and regain control over your actions. Return to a time when you considered every purchase you make instead of just throwing your money at everything just because it's a new bling bling. THINK about whether you need the thing and if it's worth its cost. Do you need every new smartphone or the latest GPU or buy buggy games Day-1? Do you need the latest consoles that totally lack games when you're already sitting on a huge backlog of older games on older platforms? Do you need dozens of monthly subscription services you're rarely using? Do you need that gacha premium currency to gamble on some pictures? Ask yourself those questions before buying every little thing.

As sad as it may be that we live in a society /s where microtransactions and all these other "exploitative scams" exist. It's a fact that the general population chose to accept instead of reject them. We're stuck with all that crap so the best you can do is be responsible for your own actions to not get exploited. To blame the thing itself comes too late. Reject it for yourself. And if you must play gacha/mobage: always be aware of WHAT IT IS. Don't get suckered in and start thinking you're a dolphin or whatever those people call themselves to excuse their weakness. A whale's a whale whether you spend tens of thousands, a hundred or even just 5 bucks a month for something in a Free-to-Play game.
Treat gacha "premium" currency rolls ads whatever like a stranger offering you candy, or someone on the street offering you free tissues or wanting just 5 minutes of your time: IGNORE THEM and potentially RUN
#4 by Yorhel
2022-01-18 at 08:23
< report >So, a proposal with two parts?

Part 1: Add "Freemium" option to the commercial/freeware selection, with lots of ideas for guidelines about how to use it. Looks good to me.

Part 2: Flagging the monetisation strategies and types of roadblocks. This would be nice to have with a single (or very few) generic checkboxes for "this release has anti-consumer monetization" or something, with a free-form text field to describe it. The primary use-case here is filtering (for which you don't need fine-grained options, I'd say) and warning the user on the VN/release page (for which fine-grained options wouldn't be detailed enough, hence a text field). I'm all for throwing a big red warning on the top of the main VN page if its only full release has been flagged as scamware.

Didn't we have a rule that nothing shall ever be added that cannot be archived locally?
No, we never had a rule like that and I'm not in favor of instituting one, even if I personally refuse to play such games.
#5 by Ileca
2022-01-18 at 08:32
< report >Good rant, dude. Glad to see someone who hate gachacrap as much as myself.

However.

don't play mobage/gachashit
It's because VNDB lacks warnings about that, that I had no idea what I was gonna get myself into each time I made a choice. All mobage I read have some amount of predatory practice. The business model of the whole industry is absolutely retchable. If I had discovered VN through a mobile or a tablet, I wouldn't have continued. In fact, I would have not played games at all (I would, and be an addict, actually -__-). We really have to take pity on casus because they really are treated like cattle.

if you must play, then never pay
If you calculate the time wasted by working professionally the amount required to pay for this shit, and the time wasted by trying to not pay at all cost, you will discover that you wasted much much much more time as a free player.

if a VN is part of an online service (server sided data you access via client) that could will shut down at some point and make the story inaccessible forever (Youtube story compilation or CGs/sprites on the panda is not sufficient archiving) it should not be in the database
Do you plan on removing any game that host resources in the cloud to prevent you from patching them? Or game with DRM? Couldn't play Tsumugu Logic offline and it's not a sociage. It was even patched.
You know, we have offline PC releases lost forever in the db.

What even would this be? If it's commercial you get the whole thing by paying, so why would it include a demo. And if it's a demo/trial that can be upgraded to full game, it is still just a trial version. Demos/trials and full product have to be separate.
I am not the one who proposed that so I have no example to give you. If you install a trial and then they upgrade the trial once you paid through the app, it's technically not two separated releases. I think it's all about telling you that to access the full game you have to dl the trial. Mobage can be really confusing. For example, all Cinamon Games's catalogue is available through ONE app. I searched one of their game I wanted to read and couldn't find it. I thought it was gone but it was available inside the dev's app, and all the scamware is centralized there. Apparently, it's a farming app where the slaves spend their time gathering diamonds through the usual soul-wrenching shit aka
logging in every day, completing missions, visiting the Freeshop and completing offers, watching ads, and finishing new chapters. You are also able to purchase Diamonds, though you can play without purchasing anything at all.
This thing is a good honest jail.
Technically, all those releases should be replaced with one "maybe: Interactive Stories" that is updated ad infinitum with new drugs.
A release should represent a product/software, and not be fragmented into pieces. Adding ingame commercial routes as separated releases is confusing and against the current design. If a game is cut into 50 chapters and each of them require you to pay ten cents, are you gonna add 50 releases?

What if a free game has an optional buy button to pay for it like a donation? Does that make it Freemium (free + premium)?
No, "pay what you want" are freeware. Otherwise, every itchio game would be freemium...
You have legit VN like Kangoku Shounen or Tsumugu Logic with extra stories.
Btw, Tears of Themis is a legit VN too. It has a core story made of 7 chapters. You can ignore events and skip cards' stories tho you can't skip the card game. There is no reason to not include it in the db even if this game makes me angrier by the day.

They are only "predatory" if you're weak and can't control yourself and your wallet.
Dude, you have no idea what you are talking about. Don't blame the victims for falling into their trap. It's because the way you think, by mocking weakness and appealing to individual action, that you allow them to thrive. After all, scam victims deserve to be scammed, they are weak. No, what we need is legislation and bans. Unfortunately, those scamwares fit our neoliberal societies perfectly. Those games are really seducing. They know how to hook you. They don't need to hook everybody, they need to hook whales they will exploit to the bones. Take Tears of Themis for example, they are really generous. You can progress with the story without paying anything at a very fast pace. It's pretty rare to be noted. You can do the first 4/7 story in one go. It looks like a real freeware without any roadblocks. Well, I played the first 4/7 in five days. I started the 31 December and I am still stuck with this junk, trying to complete the end of the last chapter. Fuck this shit. They bait you with honey and wait for you to have invested too much to stop. See, this is not as simple as you think it is. Nobody wants to be stuck with an addiction and ruin their life! That's why I want to make the DB more comprehensive, not open the gate to gachashit like you appear to think I am.
#6 by casualreader
2022-01-18 at 09:37
< report >Not really a very contributing user, so my opinion might not hold much weight, but I personally don't think these gacha games should even be in VNDB, as most have never ending storylines that only get released periodically. There's a difference between a VN that has gacha elements (Boku no Mirai wa, Koi to Kakin to) and a gacha game that has VN elements (almost everything else, really). If it's not a complete story from the start, then it shouldn't have an entry as a full release.

If you calculate the time wasted by working professionally the amount required to pay for this shit, and the time wasted by trying to not pay at all cost, you will discover that you wasted much much much more time as a free player.
I don't agree with this argument though, you can't calculate everything just by the time/money perspective, otherwise you wouldn't really play any game or do any entertainment activity. How much fun you have vs how much time/money you spent is relative to each person.
#7 by beliar
2022-01-18 at 17:12
< report >I admit i don't know much about scamware, but I'm not against marking releases with scummy monetization options with proper flags.

I am disappointed that I didn't have the time to read a VN from maybe: Interactive Stories like they have that godawful system where choices are locked with in-game currency.
I assume it's something like Pixelberry Studios, which is I think the only freemium company whose games I have played. To explain, Pixelberry's games have two monetized resources:
* Keys allow you to play uninterrupted. The more keys you buy, the more chapters you can read. If you don't buy them, the keys regenerate every 2 hours, so your gameplay will get interrupted and you will have to wait two hours after each chapter to play again.
* Diamonds allow you to make Diamond Choices. It's wildly different what Diamond Choices do in various games. In many games they are just glitter - for example you can buy prettier clothes for your char to wear in a certain scene. In those games you can get the best outcome even without using Diamond Choices. However, I think these choices do have an impact on more story oriented games, and can even lead to different fate for various characters. You can accumulate Diamonds at a veeeeery slow rate by watching adds, if you don't want to pay.

Commercial (free demo included)
I'm not sure we really need this as a separate option.... Do we?

Releases or VN entries? DLC should have their separate VN pages. I think Beliar and me came to an understanding about that.
Well, as I have mentioned before, I'm okay with DLCs having separate VN entries as long as they are separate side/after stories, not integrated into the main plot, and if they are self-sufficient to feel like VNs. I wouldn't separate a DLC that adds a new character route, for example, but I would consider that for a lengthy afterstory.

Are we ready to create new VN for each events from those sociage?
That might be... excessive. As I have said, I'm not that familiar with scamware, but I assume many of them spam side content stories all the time in order to prolong their lifespan. I wouldn't want to create a hundred VN pages for such side stories.

Didn't we have a rule that nothing shall ever be added that cannot be archived locally?
No, we didn't. that goes against the spirit of VNDB. We collect the info about all VNs. Many of them are not available in any shape or form anymore and cannot be played, however the information about them is still valuable.

It's bad enough we have those crowdfunding and indie games that have multiple releases for partials (like v0.03, v0.035, v0.04 all with their own release entries). Those should all be bundled as 1 partial release that gets updated and add a full release entry once/if that ever comes out
That is exactly what we do. Cumulative releases are supposed to be updated themselves, and no new entries should be made.

Both cases are content gated behind "premium memberships" and those shouldn't be added to the db
Yes, they should be. If a release exists, and can be accessed (by paying or not), it should be filed in the db. "TRUE HAPPOUBI JIN FANS" is a bad example, as it was a poor joke. No one was given access to the supposed translation, despite fulfilling the conditions. The translation apparently doesn't exist.
#8 by Ileca
2022-01-18 at 20:06
< report >
In those games you can get the best outcome even without using Diamond Choices.
My understanding of maybe (the app) is that diamonds are more than glitter. The FAQ says that you can buy secret stories and if you look at walkthroughs, it appears to lock you out of a lot of porn. I suspect some CG are there.
Also, I believe character's endings depends on gauges (hearts, charm?) and those are filled more with diamond choices, meaning that without diamonds you might not be able to access those endings. That's what I wanted to check.
Anyway, even if it's glitter, it's still content. I am the kind who save before choices even if it's about ice cream.

I'm not sure we really need this as a separate option.... Do we?
Ok, I read back what was said and examples of this are r39937 and r60780 according to Mutsuki.
Android version of the "Fate" route as freeware with UBW and HF as in-app purchases.
I don't really care honestly because I don't use trials but I thought it didn't cost us to add that and monitor its use for a later removal if necessary.

Well, as I have mentioned before, I'm okay with DLCs having separate VN entries as long as they are separate side/after stories, not integrated into the main plot, and if they are self-sufficient to feel like VNs. I wouldn't separate a DLC that adds a new character route, for example, but I would consider that for a lengthy afterstory.
Ok but don't you think this is misleading? First, you make people believe that you can get the extra stories outside of the main app, which is wrong. People will search for that download that doesn't exist. Same misunderstanding if you mark it as patch.
Also, we will start cutting those apps into release pieces based on their paid options.

I have this other example from Doubt ~Usotsuki Otoko wa Dare?~. It has early clear bonuses. It's not the only game using this mechanics but that's the only one I know that is linked to read content. Take my description with a grain of salt because the system is complicated, I only completed one chapter and it was a month ago.
If you complete a chapter before a certain date, you unlock points that allow you to unlock endings. According to this page:
2. How do I get Early Clear Bonus without spending money?
Sadly later on, let’s say for the Xth liar it is 40 chapters long, with only 5 tickets per day (without the current 10 ticket campaign) this will take you 8 days. However, Voltage sets the Early Clear Bonus to be shorter than this, say in 6 days time. The only way to get the Early Clear Bonus is to purchase tickets for real money in the shop.

If however, you want to continue playing freely I suggest you save the tickets you get from your daily login bonus, and spend them on a particular Liar which you would like to (permanently) be able to see all endings for.
See, this is a freemium alright.
Well, you can technically clear all Early Clear Bonuses if you spend a unreasonable amount of time waiting for daily login bonuses. Like have two tickets this week. Like for gacha, we need to enforce a rule saying that time-limited events that require you to stock up resources in advance to complete them are considered freemium.

Anyway, my question is, Beliar: do you plan on calculating which early clear bonuses are doable as a free player, find out which endings they unlock, and add all those micro endings as new VN pages?
My freemium option prevents us from having to care about all that nitty-grittying, thing that n-o-b-o-d-y will do past a pack of extra stories. Who wants to detail in release and VN pages all the paying content? Add one release per paid route? This is insane! And not how those games are released in the first place! You will have six releases for one app with five routes?? Confusing! Let's mark them as freemium and basta.
If you really want to go the DLC route, you will need at least a new ingame DLC option next to patch. But some app are bound to make that impracticable.

And this game as events too!! lol I noticed that while searching. This page describles one of those events > link. It's not a gacha.
The wiki lists nine events! link

And yes, you are right, they spam this shit all the time not to keep the game alive, but to force readers to engage. All those apps are built around this concept of engagement. I want to mark grinding because that is the despicable way they bound you to their game. They force you to come back all the time at regular intervals. Tear of Themis? You have resources to fetch every four hours!

Part 2: Flagging the monetisation strategies and types of roadblocks. This would be nice to have with a single (or very few) generic checkboxes for "this release has anti-consumer monetization" or something, with a free-form text field to describe it. The primary use-case here is filtering (for which you don't need fine-grained options, I'd say) and warning the user on the VN/release page (for which fine-grained options wouldn't be detailed enough, hence a text field). I'm all for throwing a big red warning on the top of the main VN page if its only full release has been flagged as scamware.
Those filters are useful. Your generic checkbox will be utterly useless, as much useless as the g**gle In-App Purchases warning. Most mobile exclusive apps contain "anti-consumer monetization". However, those predatory systems are like night and day depending on the app. Take SEEC for example. I know them well. They started with pretty reasonable monetization aka you have an action bar. If you spend too much action points, you need to watch ads to replenish it. I had to do that a few times. Otherwise, no roadblocks. Reasonable for a mobage. Now, they are full scamware with tickets, optional gacha, grinding, timed engagement.

You need to be able to filter this difference.
Each of those options corresponds to an important concept.

>This game cannot be finished in one sitting unless you pay
This game requires time. People will filter those if they don't want to spend a month playing 15 minutes a day.
>This game contains grinding that will be removed or eased up if you pay
This option tells you that you will bleed. Combined with the previous option, you know that not only you will have to play for a month but also that it will requires you to grind at regular interval. People might accept that they have to spend a month for completion but they might not want to bear the gut-wrenching grinding.
>This game hinders your reading with advertising videos
Do you want to make g**gle richer? Do you accept to spend 45 seconds multiplied by x every day to get your daily story fix? Everybody has their take on advertising.
>This game includes banner(s) shown during your reading that cannot be removed, or can if you pay
This thing is a deal breaker. Imagine playing with ads in your face all the time! <-- I only know one release which does that to be honest aka r80148. The thing is way too intrusive to have been adopted on a large scale. People don't like having a billboard under their window. It's too obvious.
>This game includes banner(s) shown during your reading that can be removed (pop-up)
Just a mild version of the previous option. Less annoying but still annoying. I have no example. Most pop-up are during menus and for the game itself or for other games. Might be removed later if it is not used enough.
>This game has unavoidable gacha mechanics with tries you can buy
Do I need to explain why people might want to filter that godawful profanity of a thing?

See, I believe those checkboxes will help people choosing their poison. Everybody has their own tolerance.
A note can't help filter and will probably lack crucial info. It's also pretty annoying to write every time.
Even if you don't want to use those as filters, it's good to have a standardized way to input that kind of data, if only for description's sake.

And yes, we need a parent box for ease of use when filtering.

I am ok with a global VN warning btw.

In fact, I am quite sad I didn't find a way to nail those games me and Beliar were talking, the ones with the diamond-choices. They require you to pile up a GIGORNOUS amount of diamonds ahead of time if you want to 100% them aka have the best choices and not a subpar free experience. With my system, you can only mark them as having grinding.
Piling up strategies are to be forbidden in the guidelines when marking games as you can technically play a lot of those in one sitting if you spent a month grinding ads before starting.
#9 by beliar
2022-01-18 at 21:20
< report >
I am the kind who save before choices even if it's about ice cream.
I see a kindred soul. It ranked me I couldn't get the swankiest costume in High School Story, despite it having no influence on plot :-P

I don't really care honestly because I don't use trials but I thought it didn't cost
All Winter Wolves games previously could be either purchased full, or you could download demos, and if you wanted you could purchase the full version from within the demo. And I'm not talking about mobile versions here. I doubt he still has that going, but I'm pretty sure there are quite a few western devs that are still doing the same. As far as I see this doesn't really require a separate option, as we still have a demo and a full game as a final result.

I understand that mobile app might work differently, and you might be required to first download a demo and then purchase the full release from within, but I believe this might incur unnecessary confusion.

Ok but don't you think this is misleading? First, you make people believe that you can get the extra stories outside of the main app, which is wrong.
You know what, I agree. It's one thing if a DLC is purchasable as a separate program, like Highway Blossoms: Next Exit. However, if you have to buy it from within the program, it seems like we are splitting the program into multiple parts, which doesn't really make sense.

My freemium option prevents us from having to care about all that nitty-grittying
Yes, yes it does. My musings regarding DLCs relate more to the PC releases, because as I have said, I'm not well versed in mobile games. Your solution saves us a lot of headaches regarding mobages.

See, I believe those checkboxes will help people choosing their poison. Everybody has their own tolerance.
While I agree it would be useful to some people, I'm not sure your hate for mobages isn't clouding your judgement. Have you seen how many people actually take care in updating mobile VN entries on vndb? There's like two, and that's if I'm being generous. Who is gonna spend time and possibly money to go through scamware and mark all those checkboxes regarding which of them apply? The feature will be so underused. A more generic "this release has anti-consumer monetization" seems like a good compromise, as this can be inferred without actually playing the games. Not sure your extensive list holds under scrutiny regarding actual application.

With my system, you can only mark them as having grinding.
I'm not sure what exactly you define as grinding? Requirement to farm resources for choices? Regarding Pixelberry Games, "This game cannot be finished in one sitting unless you pay" and "This game hinders your reading with advertising videos" would apply. Well, and grinding, if I have interpreted your definition correctly. Not sure about Cinamon Games.
#10 by Ileca
2022-01-18 at 23:24
< report >Do we care that much about the popularity of a feature on VN "stuck in 2009" DB?
Do you know how hard it is to add mobile releases? Try find release dates. No wonder nobody wants to contribute. And since when contributing represents anything?

Stats from g**gle play:
Tears of Themis > more than 1 million downloads
maybe: Interactive Stories > more than 1 million downloads
Choices: Stories You Play (Pixelberry) > more than 10 MILLIONS DOWNLOADS
High School Story > same

The target exists and is a whole scale bigger than regular VN. Maybe they don't go on vndb (given that the website is not mobile friendly, can't blame them) but what tells you that this kind of data won't prove being useful to them and drag a new public here when they learn we help them discriminate between apps?
Obviously, the data will be filled by people who have an interest in mobage. Aka not you, not me as long as I can avoid it. What's the problem? Sure, if you go the g**gle play path and just mark them as Contains In-App Purchases, it will be useless because they will all be marked like that and you will be unable to differentiate between them. This was an hypocritical move from g**gle who knew damn well that all their games would be marked as such, changing literally nothing and certainly not helping people prone to gambling addiction to stay away from gachage. I see no interest in adding a general flag if it doesn't help you describe the inner mechanisms. What I want for this feature is not to be hateful, but to help people navigate those murky waters. When you are stuck with a mobile/tablet, the only choice you can make is pick the right poison. I didn't want VNDB to spite them, but to tell me which apps were reasonable with their business model, or at least warn me so I could prepare mentally. All apps are not equal.
Not being able to filter is not that important. What matters is answering important questions such as the real cost of those apps: is it delay? Brain time (ads)? Work (grinding)? Addiction (gacha)?

I'm not sure what exactly you define as grinding?
Any repetitive action that can be removed or eased up if you pay.
By definition, if such action can be removed or eased up, it was designed to waste your time to incite you to pay because the streamlined experience is the intended experience.
It can be farming currency, but it is also any pay2win gameplay. Even if the gameplay is "fun". We are not here to judge what is fun and what isn't but I am sure you understand that if the gameplay is fun, there is no incentive for the player to pay to remove such gameplay, therefore the gameplay is most of the time not fun. It can go as far as being a plain clicker e.g. Alter Ego I deleted.

And yes, the game should be marked as not being able to be finished in one sitting but only if we forbid "pilling up strategies" as you can technically finish those games in one sitting if you farmed resources for a month ahead of time.

As for ads, it's actually one of my weak point, It's pretty hard to define because you have:
-mandatory videos in the middle of your reading
-optional videos in the middle of your reading (e.g. Kaii Keijiban to Nanatsu no Uwasa when you reach a bad ending, either you watch an ad or you have to start from the chapter's beginning aka you waste a lot of time because of no skip feature)
-videos as a mandatory way to farm something that will indirectly affect your progression
-videos as an optional way to farm something that will indirectly affect your progression

I think 1/ 2/ 3/ should be marked as such but not 4/.
It's like gacha. You have some games with avoidable gacha. It's just a lottery that reward you few items a day. They should not be marked as gachage.
In your case, I don't think your game should be marked with that if you can avoid it. It's not satisfying because it sounds hypocritical but I prefer to flag games that really hinder you with mandatory and semi-mandatory ads. I don't want games with promotional campaigns to be marked as such.
#11 by beliar
2022-01-19 at 00:04
< report >
I see no interest in adding a general flag if it doesn't help you describe the inner mechanisms.
Well, I think you might be a bit too optimistic that people will to go to vndb and check those specific flags for the games they have played. I doubt many of mobage players even really see them as visual novels in the first place. That said, I have no strong feelings either way, so if you manage to convince Yorhel that it's an important feature, more power to you.

as you can technically finish those games in one sitting if you farmed resources for a month ahead of time
Doesn't actually work for Pixelberry Games, as "Choices: Stories You Play" only allows for non-paying players to have two keys at any single time. Meaning, after you have read two chapters, you'll have to wait for 2 hours to regen one key (4 hours for 2 keys). There is simply no way to play for more than 30 minutes (the average length of 2 chapters) in one sitting if you don't pay. Sneaky...

Also, the adds in Pixelberry Games belong to the 4th category: "videos as an optional way to farm something that will indirectly affect your progression". You can skip all ads (and all ads are outside the games, so they never interrupt gameplay), but watching them gives you free diamonds, so that's an incentive to not skip for those who don't pay.
#12 by butterflygrrl
2022-01-19 at 16:50
< report >I think a general 'freemium' tag as opposed to either commercial or freeware would be useful and applicable for a lot of phone games.

I don't think trying to dig into the nitty-gritty of what is blocked and how is a good use of VNDB. For one, I get the feeling there are fewer mobage players here to start with. A lot of these games tend to have slightly limited entries. For another, the precise details change a lot, I think? I've heard lots of stories of the mobile game publishers screwing around with the pay2play options over time, swapping between Watch Ads or Wait More or Buy Gems or different combinations of the above, all without clear notifications on the game sale pages that the rules have altered.

Mobile games seem to be more commonly in a constant state of flux than commercial games are. (Like MMORPGs in some ways). It's hard to pin down the details. It's hard to find clear records of the changes that have taken place over time. Especially if you are not a hardcore fan of the game, and as I said, I feel like there aren't that many hardcore fans in here.

So I wouldn't trust any detailed notes on VNDB to be updated and accurate. A freemium option for any game that falls into the grey area between "it's definitely free" and "pay once and you own it" can serve as a starting point for doing more research into a title if you want to play it yourself.

I do sometimes feel like there should also be a category for freeish-but-PWYW because I feel a little misled when a game on VNDB says it's freeware and then I get to the itch page and yeah, you CAN download it free, but the author would also appreciate it if you tipped them. This ends up making me feel slightly annoyed at the author for something that isn't their fault at all - it's VNDB which told me "totally free!" and then left me feeling guilty for downloading without paying.

These aren't freemium games because you can play them totally free with no further annoyances, they're just Tips Welcome. So it's a separate category.

Free, Free but you can tip if you choose, gated freemium, commercial.
#13 by Ileca
2022-01-19 at 20:26
< report >
A freemium option for any game that falls into the grey area between "it's definitely free" and "pay once and you own it" can serve as a starting point for doing more research into a title if you want to play it yourself.
If the game is mobile exclusive (or was), you KNOW it's gonna have some weird scheme unless it's pay up front. It's not helpful at all. It will just overlap with free mobage with few exceptions, real freewares and unofficial ports. You say it's not a good use of VNDB but what's a DB if not centralization of information? Are you telling me resolution or voicing is too much information? I am pretty sure that very few people care about JAN. Still helpful for the few who care. Same for engines.
Also, you are misunderstanding freemium. As long as the game has no paying content, it will still be marked as freeware even if it has the most manipulative mechanics ever. Freemium won't cover most of the mobage because what this feature is for is to tell you that you can't access all the content without paying or pilling up resources ahead of time. All the other toxic scamwares will still be marked as freewares.

For another, the precise details change a lot, I think? I've heard lots of stories of the mobile game publishers screwing around with the pay2play options over time, swapping between Watch Ads or Wait More or Buy Gems or different combinations of the above, all without clear notifications on the game sale pages that the rules have altered.
Ok, that sounds concerning, but without examples, it's as good as hearsay.
That sounds like a big change you are talking about if suddenly they switch from watching ads to tickets. It's not the same mechanism at all. Btw, I hope you noticed that we said that optional practices shouldn't count. So if watching ads on the side is removed, it wasn't marked in the first place. It should also concern the VN content only, not whatever fake gameplay there is on the side.
If a dev removes mechanisms and introduce other, entirely different, they should be treated like other release features, like when the reso/voicing/animation/etc. change.
If truly you are right and everybody does that on a quick turnover, which I didn't notice at all (but I have a meager experience of 10-20 apps), then, yeah, we could start talking about the future of this feature. However, I feel like you are thinking that all mobage are sociage (games with gacha, events, PvP, etc.). Those barely fits the rules in the first place. I don't think there are many in the DB.
#14 by adamstan
2022-01-19 at 21:11
< report >
I am pretty sure that very few people care about JAN. Still helpful for the few who care.

Yup, it's very helpful when searching various online stores like amazon for physical edition, without the need to worry about title spelling given shop uses ;)
#15 by butterflygrrl
2022-01-19 at 21:14
< report >>Are you telling me resolution or voicing is too much information?

No, but it's information that is fairly easy to obtain for a lot of games and doesn't require spending a lot of time playing the game to figure it out. with mobile games i'm lucky if I can even figure out the number and gender of the characters from the appstore listings, much less how the financial details work.

(Also it makes a difference if it's optional information that just adds more data, or meant to be a major part of how games are categorised.)

I suspect there are truly free games out there on mobile that don't have extra stuff attached to them. I don't know details though because I don't HAVE a smartphone so what I know about the subject comes entirely from other people's posts and rumors. But most gaming platforms have at least a handful of hobbyists who are happy to release things that are truly free, or have games that are truly free because they are, themselves, advertising. (the equivalent of the KFC dating sim).

I would consider "it stops you every five minutes to make you watch an ad" to fall into the grey area where it's no longer truly free. But that's me. maybe I'm using 'freemium' wrong because I don't really know what that word means because I don't play these games.

I definitely know that some games have changed their payment models over time because I heard people bitching about it, but that's really all I can say.Last modified on 2022-01-19 at 21:35
#16 by Ileca
2022-01-19 at 21:59
< report >Yeah, but which games? Aren't you talking about non visual novels? There isn't much you can do to games that are supposed to fit the rules of this DB. Events themselves are already a joke. You can't really create a MMOVN. If a VN change its payment model (commercial > freeware), we already split releases. How is that different?

About the difficulty to obtain the information, beyond the fact that this apply to every features of mobages, I don't see the problem. You will obviously have to read the VN to be able to fill the data. Like animation, some tags/traits, etc. It's not as hard as you make it. Most work with tickets and you know what that means. You don't need to have finished a mobage to find out about their business model. You need to do that to find out if some are freemium tho.

Yeah, freemium is wrongly used by a lot of people, like pay2win, etc.
Freemium means that a functional base is free and that you can pay to get optional features/content (paying a premium). Examples: if you buy a graphics editor, you will be able to edit and draw and stuff you do with graphics editors, but if you pay, you will have access to new brushes and filters, etc. It's the same for VN. You can have a self-contained reading experience, and beyond that, you have paying content aka after stories, choices extending the original experience (some kind of NG+), new routes, etc. What matters from a VN's POV is that the free story is complete.
I agree with your interpretation of ads but premium apply to money and brain time is not considered money as of now. Marking them as commercial would be too misleading.


All you guys are doing are shooting down this feature from the outside. I will tell you, when I was stuck with my tablet, I didn't find vndb to be really useful. We can't add stuff that is emulated because it would fill the db but do you know how fucking hard this is to know what is compatible or not? I can't do shit with a tablet! In the end, I was unable to find out what I could read or not without checking case by case, struggling with the many emulators/interpreters. And on top of that, I am exploited to the bones by the devs to convert downloads into money?? It was truly a terrible experience. Anyway, trying to even the field here so, guys, try to understand, especially if you don't even play mobage smh.
#17 by beliar
2022-01-19 at 22:44
< report >
All you guys are doing are shooting down this feature from the outside.
However, you should consider the possibility you have been stuck inside for so long, you cannot impartially think about the issue anymore... :-P Your hate for freemium might be blinding you to the unfeasibility of the very detailed model you want to implement. There is a thin line between comprehensive and cumbersome, and your model seems to cross that line as far as I see.
#18 by Ileca
2022-01-19 at 23:40
< report >Sure, I hate that stuff with a passion, but, dude, I am FREE. FREE! \o/
I am currently writing a book called "My life in hell: one month with android" with a REAL KEYBOARD. You can't see it but I am writing with all my fingers! *clack clack clack* What a delight.

You also underestimate my ability to make allowances. I didn't write #3 and I think I didn't change the way I suggest things here. However, hearing that there is no public for this feature when you have no stats to back you up is not what I would call reasonable.

It would be great if some features could be rolled out as beta to test if this works. I thought about that with the animation proposal. Coz I feel nothing is released by fear of failure when some details are missing. Sure, all the rough edges weren't smoothed but in the meantime, we are not moving forward.
#19 by butterflygrrl
2022-01-20 at 01:57
< report >>Yeah, but which games? Aren't you talking about non visual novels?

No, I'm talking about otome stuff. But, again, it's Vague Shit I Heard On A Forum so I can't really back it up.

Mostly what I'm trying to say is I feel like it's easier to put things into broad categories that anyone adding a game to the DB can figure out (stuff like "free, sort-of-but-not-really free, commercial") and then maybe having extra options on the side to add extra detail about exactly HOW it's not really free, than it would be to try and break all those options down into base categories. The base categories need to be clear and easy to understand, and the extra stuff needs to be set to the side for the experts to tinker with. Otherwise, it gets messed up and misused.

... like the 'age rating', which I will continue to be pissed about because of the number of people marking 17+ games as 'all ages' because the field is confusing to a large number of users.
#20 by Ileca
2022-01-20 at 04:23
< report >The age rating field is not really confusing. It's just a bad habit of considering no porn=all age. It's the fault of Japanese developers who do that. When you think about it, the filter is probably only used to include/exclude porn. The nuances of 3 to 17 are meaningless, especially when the slightest thing can give you a higher rating. I think there is a console release which is marked 18+ because of tobacco...
#21 by butterflygrrl
2022-01-20 at 18:48
< report >doesn't that prove that the age rating field IS confusing? if no one really knows what the options mean and half the people using it are misusing it?

a porn / not-porn flag would be much more helpful and i'd be happy to see the age ratings removed entirely and replaced with that.
#22 by bobjr2000
2022-01-21 at 00:30
< report >I guess its kind of funny do you consider vn to be closer to say movies,books or comics. In states movies and comics have rating system but books don't
#23 by butterflygrrl
2022-01-21 at 14:01
< report >there's also the "18+" patch for muramasa on gog, which is already rated 18+, because for some reason even patch authors don't want to just say "it's the porn patch"
#24 by Yorhel
2022-01-31 at 09:56
< report >I'm not entirely clear about what should and shouldn't be marked as "Freemium"; to what extend do ads or timegated content count?

Not being able to filter is not that important. What matters is answering important questions such as the real cost of those apps: is it delay? Brain time (ads)? Work (grinding)? Addiction (gacha)?
Right, so a free-form text field would work fine.

It would be great if some features could be rolled out as beta to test if this works.
Yeah, that's usually the way to do it, but the problem with that model is that it requires a commitment to answer questions and fix stuff along the way; which is why I'm often hesitant to implement things when I don't see much community enthousiasm such as with the animation proposal.

On the other hand, I don't expect many problems with a "Freemium + text field" feature that won't eventually work itself out, so going with a beta is fine for me.
#25 by Ileca
2022-01-31 at 12:34
< report >Yeah but I wanted a beta to test the feasibility of the checkboxes, not a lame text field that nobody will fill properly and that will fail to answer those questions. The point of the beta is to see if really nobody understands how to use the form, if there is stuff that fall out of the boxes or are too ambiguous, if nobody sees any interest in that feature, etc. and axe it if really it doesn't work, not to shy away from doing anything. You mark that as beta for contributors to know that they should be aware that it might not work so they don't invest themselves too much but instead evaluate the feature. I said it's not *that* important to filter, it was compared to the descriptive (and standardized) goal of this proposal, not that it was not important. As a beta, you can skip the filters' implementation but, ultimately, I want to be able to filter out gachage that can easily make me addicted and also stuff you can't finish in one sitting.

to what extend do ads or timegated content count?
Ads do not make a game freemium. The premium must be real money. As for timegated content, it will be marked as freemium if the content is dependent on a RNG that can be feed with real money, once again.