Can we let players pay money for watching a game?
This subject has been on my mind for a while already, and in light of the recent discussion of the actual value of Let’s Plays for linear games, it’s a good time to talk about it.
I enjoy watching Let’s Plays. Sometimes just because they are entertaining. Sometimes because I just can’t play some games due to my ADD. Either way, I end up experiencing a lot of interesting games that I’m not going to play myself. In many cases I don’t want to spend money on the full game. At the same time, I feel like I got value from the game via the Let’s Play and I’d like to show my appreciation to the developer. Sadly, it’s usually impossible. There’s no way to leave a tip on the game and most games don’t have any type of merch. Buying the game for someone else as a gift also doesn’t feel quite right. And waiting for the game to go on sale just so you can virtually tip the developer requires you to wait, keep your eyes open, and to want to do it right now.
My proposed solution would be to introduce something that, for the lack of better word, I’ll call game appreciation packs. Such a pack would include some sort of value in itself, maybe a track from the soundtrack, wallpapers or even just a nice thank you note.
The important part would be this: If the player ever decided that they actually want to play the game, the value of the appreciation pack (or some part of it) would be subtracted from the price of the game. While buying the pack you would also have an easy way to opt-in for notifications of when the game goes on sale.
By having an actual value associated with the pack, more people would be willing to spend some money supporting developers. That solution would also remove the friction from the process of tipping developers, and it would create an opportunity to turn these players into (fully) paying customers.
Would it work? Do we have an infrastructure to do this? What are your thoughts about it?