Why I Don’t Use Adblockers
I’ve had some whiskey, and I’ve been thinkin’. So let’s talk about something dear to me.
A couple years back, I wrote a “browser-based multiplayer roleplaying game” called Nexus War. Don’t go looking for it on Wikipedia; the article was deleted (again) a couple weeks ago for being “non notable”.
(Fuck you for that, by the way. I play lots of “free to play” games from time to time to see what they do, and so many of them integrate gameplay elements that I fucking invented so fuck off with your entire “not notable” shit. The game was mentioned in fucking Playboy but whatever I guess people who don’t know dick about the subject at hand know more than me.)
Nexus War was fun for me to build. It started as a small hobbyist thing that my friends could play and that was cool. That was my only reason for doing it for a long, long time. Later, it got popular and it started requiring Real Cash Money to manage.
I never designed the game with the intent to make money and it showed. Any monetization principles were clearly bolted on after-the-fact.
After a time, the output for the game overran the input for the game and I had to kill it.
Those of you who have been in the situation where you had to murder your own children may understand the emotions I dealt with in this.
Given that I am a communist bastard at heart, playing the game was free. Everyone could play. You got to have three characters for free and that ended up to anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes a day that you could play. For free.
I really only ever wanted to break even.
If you wanted to play more than a half hour, you could buy “character slots” at a one-time cost of about five bucks per slot. That gave you an additional dude that you could have running around. But buying slots didn’t create any advantage for you: you still couldn’t work your characters in tandem, nor could you “slip time” to other guys. So a one-time drop of five bones gave you another 10 minutes a day for the life of the game.
Later, I added the ability to buy small tokens. These things were not game-affecting; they were the equivalent of “cool clothes”. 25 cents and you could have a rare type of clothing. That sort of thing. It was a credits system, where one US cent equalled 1 credit.
I also ran ads in sidebars and such not. Mostly text ads, but some were images.
At it’s peak, Nexus War had 40,000 unique players at a time (80,000 over its life). Games like this have a rotational user-base. The lifecycle of a player is about 3 to 4 months, after which they move on. I guess it was costing me about 700 dollars a month to run on multiple servers, before the entire “cloud computing” thing happened. I was coding this in my spare time.
There was exactly one month that I made a profit and two months that I broke even. The ad revenue was key, actually. The introduction of ads pushed me into the green for the initial 30 days I had them turned on.
You cannot imagine my emotions at this. I could do this! I could continue running the game and not compromise any of my principles. Holy smokes, I was in the green.
Then someone made a post on the game forums about how to best disable the ads using various adblocker techniques.
I briefly thought about killing the post. I could do it. No one would really complain. But I would be censoring someone and I couldn’t abide that. They weren’t being racist or homophobic or any other kind of hateful. I had to let it go. So I did.
And the advertising revenue halved itself in the next month. And yet again in the month after, with no appreciable loss in players.
At that point I was deep in the red. It continued to get worse, until my ad revenue checks were along the lines of “ten dollars”. The playerbase hadn’t really decreased, either.
I ran the game at a heavy loss for another eight months before I had to close it. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Every time I visit a site and it throws an advertisement at me? I know what that means. And I don’t block it. I reckon there’s somebody on the other side of that http request who is hoping that my visit will earn him 1/100th of a penny.
Remember that when you decide that you love something and want to kill its ability to make money.