trjh2k2

Unity Does the unity store actively encourage asset flipping?

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I've never really been a "Unity guy", since all of my game-dev learning happened in C++, and in other engines, but I recently discovered the "complete projects" section in the asset store.  It's full up on projects you can buy that are billed as "ready to customize and release", with full ad integration.  Some of them claim to be for educational purposes, but why would you include a complete, polished, full featured game with ads as an educational example?

This leads me to the question of why this goes by unchallenged?  Does Unity and the environment of the Unity Store actively encourage this style of game development?  Is the problem of asset flipping our own fault?  I don't mean this as a "we should make Unity shut this down" kind of thread, but rather just to examine whether or not the environment of being able to just buy whole games or pieces of games is something that damages the industry.  I get why Unity would allow it, and I'm sure it's a working business model for some people- and maybe some people DO actually just use these to learn from, but I'm not that naive as to think that there aren't people who recognize this as one of the shortest paths to putting a game on the market so they can cash in.

Thoughts?

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For the most part, I think this was due to a Steam problem more than any issue of Unity.  I mean, who cares if someone buys a complete game that someone else willingly put up on the Unity Store, and then turns around and tries to sell it.  If the game is not actually good, it shouldn't sell, right?  Or if the buyer made some decent changes, it should feel distinctive and sell.  The market should discourage people releasing derivative clones.

Well, Steam fucked this up by letting cheap games grant Steam Trading Cards.  Suddenly everyone wants to buy and play these dumb games so they can get trading cards they can sell, and the developer gets a cut of every transaction on the cards!

Steam has recently done some work to try to curb this behavior, dunno how much of an impact it's made.

 

That said, I think having a full fledged, professionally made example can be really helpful to some people.  I find a lot of Unity's assets to be only vaguely useful and impractical.  Scripts/Assets that really only work for the small scene that they were included in.  Either they don't scale well, or they don't handle a majority of physics situations, etc.  

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I know steam definitely has a role in the asset flipping issue, but that part is well known and discussed all the time.  Nobody discusses unity's role in the issue though.  They created the environment where terrible games can be easily made by purchasing big chunks of work and slapping them together.  Legit question - Does any other engine do this?  (RPGMaker maybe?)

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8 minutes ago, trjh2k2 said:

They created the environment where terrible games can be easily made by purchasing big chunks of work and slapping them together. 

I don't think they're the cause of the issue.  Certainly they make it easier for people to sell their items and for people to buy the items, but that doesn't make them liable for how the items are used.  They do a good job of making it easy for buyers and sellers to come together, and that's a valuable service.

There have always been people out there who bring together the minimum parts they can, make a slapdash product, and attempt to profit from that.  The market happens to make it easier to get better components for the slapdash product, but they aren't the cause of the behavior. That behavior has been around for all recorded history.

It is literally among the oldest recorded actions of humanity. Given enough people there will always be some who attempt to make a quick buck this way.

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So we're just absolving Unity of any role in the practice....?  I get that they're not the cause, they didn't invent asset flips, but I still think it's worth discussing their role in it.

My question wasn't whether or not they caused it, but if their store environment encourages it.

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Putting those together:

Does {an online market that lets individuals buy and sell resources} encourage {people to sell mostly-complete products used for asset flipping}?  I get that they're not the cause, they didn't invent asset flips, but I still think it's worth discussing their role in it.

On the general level, the open-to-anybody marketplace will always have this type of thing. No matter who runs the market, no matter how strictly they attempt to regulate it, there are always people who will try to exploit. In that regard I do think the organizers deserve a pass.

 

On this market specifically, what would you have Unity or the market's community do differently?   What exact policy would you want to put in place that would solve the problem you see without incurring serious collateral damage?  Any wording or policies I think of cover not just the mildly-problematic flipping issues, but also a wide swath of useful materials. 

 

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Unreal does this as well, they have an asset marketplace, RPG Maker also stands out.  And I'm sure I could find thousands of nearly complete games/tutorials for phones and resell them.  Again I don't really see an issue.  Who are the resellers hurting?  Shitty marketplaces that don't do a good job of filtering or presenting products?  

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Fair enough.  I don't have a solution for it, but it surprises me that they get a pass so easily when so much about gaming gets torn to bits over every little misstep.  I mean, I'm sure they're well aware that Unity gets used this way.  That doesn't make them responsible at all, and I'm not suggesting that, but it surprises me that I've never seen it discussed before that Unity is in a position where they *could* impose something that would have an effect on the issue.  I was surprised that selling complete games on the asset store was allowed in the first place.

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I learned so much from my first industry job having access to an actual game from end to end, professionally done..  So I can see where the benefit comes from.  The fact that they can turn around and sell it and cause problems for a poorly implemented marketplace...is more about the marketplace being poorly implemented.  The same problem can happen with non-unity prebuilt games.

 

What would Unity impose upon their marketplace?  One could eliminate the complete game category...but that wouldn't stop it from being put on the store.   It would either show up in some other category, or be split out into easily recreated parts, or offline from the Unity store entirely.

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I don't actually see the problem here. The bottom line of any industry comes down to, "how can we make these products more cheaply?" The Unity engine itself does that, as does Unreal, Gamemaker, etc. AAA developers make use of exactly the same benefits when they use middleware or existing libraries.

This whole thread has worked under the assumption that this is bad, and should be stopped, and someone needs to be held accountable. But why is it bad? The only complaints I see from people about 'unworthy' games being on Steam are from other devs who are angry that being on Steam is no longer a guarantee to get eyeballs on your game, or from Gamergaters who demand that only the 'right' kind of games make it onto 'their' platforms. Having some shovelware buried on page 7 of a search on Steam has never impeded me from finding or buying what I want, and I doubt it really affects anyone.

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the short answer is no, pointing to asset store means you know nothing about the whole "asset flipping" industry.

yes, there is an entire industry around "asset flipping", "reskin", or let's just say "piracy"  of commercial games.  fully automatic pipelines with hundreds people copy games, from concept, game mechanisms, game data, to reverse engineering code, asset stripping, etc. and it's a very profitable industry producing a lot of profit and employing a lot of people. And it has nothing to do with unity or asset store, while at the same time being very evil and insidious. 

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯  I guess that answers that then.

Very surprised that nobody finds the idea of selling games this way to be sketchy.    And no- I don't know much about asset flipping as an industry.

Are we all just ok with shovelware and asset flips then?  I mean, shrugging it off and saying it's steams problem just shifts the blame from one place to another, and calls it a non-problem.

5 hours ago, Kylotan said:

The only complaints I see from people about 'unworthy' games being on Steam are from other devs who are angry that being on Steam is no longer a guarantee to get eyeballs on your game

Are we not the appropriate people to be discussing it then?  We're those devs.  We're the ones who have to fight for those eyeballs.  It directly impacts us.

5 hours ago, Kylotan said:

or from Gamergaters who demand that only the 'right' kind of games make it onto 'their' platforms

I don't think this is helpful to the conversation at all- all you're saying is that if someone has an opinion different then yours then they must be one of those terrible gamergater-types.

5 hours ago, Kylotan said:

Having some shovelware buried on page 7 of a search on Steam has never impeded me from finding or buying what I want

What about mobile app stores that are so full of garbage that it's barely worth trying to find decent games on a phone?  I don't think it's fair to say that gaming doesn't have a problem with shovelware, asset flips, derivative cash grabs, etc.  It's not just steam - all of the stores are full of garbage, IMO.

Sure, I can understand leaving Unity itself out of the discussion - but I'm surprised to hear so many "it's not a real issue" comments.

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1. asset flipping games using, well, shovelwares have no value, such way makes little or no money(apart from the Steam feature/bug with trading card). Players simply ignore them.

2.most "garbage" games are not asset flips, but they are diligently made, hand crafted. but still less than playable, especially compare to commercial grade game.

3.even decent( commercial grade), or even excellent games find it very difficult to reach intended audience, last time I checked it costs something like 5-10 USD to get just one download. 

4. true asset flipping games are usually produced with higher quality than...average indie game, even carefully produced ones, simply because they have so much financial and manpower.

so yeah, I guess it's really not a problem

if you are a player find garbage unbearable, there are all kinds of ads and recommendation , curator sites for you to find good games

if you are a producer trying to make good game but worried about being out-competed by asset flipping games, you are right, but these are made by professionals, not someone who buys on asset store.  And to win against them you simply have to do better.

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22 hours ago, trjh2k2 said:

Some of them claim to be for educational purposes, but why would you include a complete, polished, full featured game with ads

Unity's ads is a pain and honestly I downloaded a example file so I could review how it's suppose to be setup.

These complete games are perfect learning tools for someone who wants to see how it works and unlike the tutorials videos and web pages is more up to date with changes to Unity. Unity makes ridicules changes for no reason.

18 hours ago, trjh2k2 said:

So we're just absolving Unity of any role in the practice....?

Unity has no legal responsibility to stop asset flips and doing so would cost them money.

They would have to pay money(maintenance) to loose money(there cut from the sale) and there would be no gain from it and could even be backlash from developers who use the asset store. It's easy to see why Unity doesn't dare change things.

19 hours ago, trjh2k2 said:

They created the environment where terrible games can be easily made by purchasing big chunks of work and slapping them together.  Legit question - Does any other engine do this?

The only thing Unity did was provide people with a beginner friendly engine. That's the thing about people who asset flip, they are new developers who are desperate.

I in counter the type all the time, a new developer who just quits his job because they don't like it then go into indie development because some website somewhere told them its easy. The new developer spends a month or so and learns the hard truth: it's easy to make a game but hard to make a good game.

Financial pressure gets to them and they either sell what bad game they made or buy a better game and try to sell that.

 

So if you want to blame someone for the bad games on steam and the stores you can blame the people who go around telling people that they can quit there jobs to make games.

A good example of how few developers actually want to sell asset flips is how small of the percentage of games on steam is asset flips. It wasn't even a 1% last time I checked and I think it's less now as many of the ones I know about has been removed.

Unreal has almost no asset flips even when it has assets in the store that can be exploited as such. Most new developers who try Unreal abandon it in a few days, so it has the least amount of new developers. It also has the least amount of asset flips.

 

I am not saying there isn't people out there hoping to make a quick money, just that most of them don't start out that way.

Also the bad games on steam only hurts buyers who dive into the indie game part looking for games. To find a asset flip you have to really go searching for one.

1 hour ago, bonfireKaka said:

yes, there is an entire industry around "asset flipping", "reskin", or let's just say "piracy"  of commercial games.  fully automatic pipelines with hundreds people copy games, from concept, game mechanisms, game data, to reverse engineering code, asset stripping, etc. and it's a very profitable industry producing a lot of profit and employing a lot of people. And it has nothing to do with unity or asset store, while at the same time being very evil and insidious. 

Re-skinning is where a developer foolishly thinks they will make money by selling the same game many times with small differences. Don't get me wrong you can earn some money that way, but the effort you would put into it could have earned you more money as a waiter.

If you ever read online a post with someone starting with "If only I had know..." it's a scam. The people who re-skin the games charge more than a developer would ever make with a re-skinned game. You would need to do the work manually to profit from it and again that amount of work and skill could earn you much more money than re-skinning can.

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"Are we all just ok with shovelware and asset flips then?" I'm okay with there being crappy things out there that I don't want to buy, yes.

"We're the ones who have to fight for those eyeballs.  It directly impacts us." Sure it does, so we have to ensure our work is more appealing, gets better reviews, delivers more value. I don't think trying to exclude things we don't like from marketplaces is the answer.

"What about mobile app stores that are so full of garbage that it's barely worth trying to find decent games on a phone?" Lots of people are happy with the games available on their mobile device. They may not be the same type of game you want to play. You're going to have to come up with a more objective argument, because right now you seem to be asserting that things are broken without providing proof it is so.

"all you're saying is that if someone has an opinion different then yours then they must be one of those terrible gamergater-types." Well, I was talking about what I see, which is slightly different from attempting to label the people I don't see. But I'm being completely honest in that all the arguments have been either:

  1. "I want fewer games on Steam because I want my game to get a better chance of success" (from someone who, strangely, assumes that their game will obviously be okay)
  2. "I don't want these games on Steam because I have strong opinions about which games are important".

I have little sympathy for the former, as open marketplaces are better in general, and no sympathy for the latter, because the existence of clones and simple games doesn't crowd out or somehow damage the 'core' games or their audience.

If someone can produce evidence that there are a large number of these games are consistently making it to the front pages of Steam or soaking up revenue that might have gone to better games, I might amend my stance. But I'm not seeing that.

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11 minutes ago, Kylotan said:

because the existence of clones and simple games doesn't crowd out or somehow damage the 'core' games or their audience.

This is the most important fact isn't it. All these half made games are just killing the half made games.

The good indie games really worth playing do a lot more than just gamble there chances on being found on the app store. All of the good indie games I bought on steam are games I found out about elsewhere.

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8 minutes ago, Scouting Ninja said:

All these half made games are just killing the half made games.

I disagree though.  I often end up avoiding indie games because it's very difficult sometimes to tell the difference between a legit effort and shovelware- and I can't be the only one.  There are people who just open up whatever store and browse around- those are lost sales if you lose their confidence that random cool-looking icons and screenshots on their phone aren't going to waste their time.  I do think shovelware damages the market.  Maybe not in an extreme way, but I don't think it's zero effect.

Edit- an example, take something like Tilt-To-Live.  I'd see that icon, go "looks kinda cool", try it out, and I ended up paying for it.  I wouldn't even bother anymore in todays version of the app store.

Edited by trjh2k2

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1 hour ago, trjh2k2 said:

  My point is that I would not take a chance on similarly cool looking games anymore because I expect shovelware now.

1 hour ago, trjh2k2 said:

I wouldn't even bother anymore in todays version of the app store.

My apologies I didn't get what you where saying, I am a android user. Even my own games I focused on android and did not know apple changed how the store works.

You are correct with apple changing the store to remove info that other stores provide does make things a bit harder. You can still see if a game is good by checking the total rating and the amount of reviews.

 

This is more of a store problem than a asset flip problem. To fix it spam apple with complaints.

 

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1 hour ago, Scouting Ninja said:

You are correct with apple changing the store

Again not what I meant.  I'm not taking the chance - not because Apple has done anything to their store, but because there's so much garbage out there now, compared to the likelihood of encountering something cool at random when I first got my phone.

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2 hours ago, trjh2k2 said:

I'm not taking the chance - not because Apple has done anything to their store, but because there's so much garbage out there now

It's not really taking a chance when you can see the review. You can read other peoples opinion and see from it if downloading the game is worth it.  There is also game critics, who we as developers should support, as they go out of there way to take chances with games, they inform there communities and the players don't have to take risks.

It should also not be possible for the average player to even find a game with less than 200 downloads, you have to go look for games with lower downloads.

 

If a game advertises it self well, it won't be just dependent on players stumbling on the game in the store, and it won't be a risky investment as people would know about the game.

Then there is the developers who start by publishing bad games. Scott Cawthon is a good example. The developer is well known for his Chipper And Sons that didn't even make it to steam because of critique. This lead to the much lesser known(:)) Five Knights At Freddy's.

 

If a developer just uploads a game to steam, never tells anyone about it or markets the game, and hopes for the best. How is that different from a developer who never uploads a game at all?

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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That's all fine and great, but review scores aren't reliable.  My point isn't that there are ways to tell if a game is any good, my point is that for some users (myself included) the confidence that any given app or game is going to be of any quality is pretty low, so when I want to be entertained, I'll go elsewhere.  At one point you could just search the app store for interesting things and stumble on some cool stuff- now I don't expect much from app stores anymore- and regardless of the fact that there are ways to tell if an app is ok, it's the lack of confidence- and that element of discovery that no longer exists- that I'm getting at.

Just my two cents, either way.

Edited by trjh2k2

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Caveat emptor.

That is true, reviews aren't reliable. You may not like a game, even games that get good reviews may not be fun for you.

As for quality, if you aren't sure about a game's quality (from either a lack of reviews or lack of quality brand) then buy from somewhere that has a good return policy and post your own reviews when you've tried it out.

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I feel like this whole discussion is missing my point.  My point is not that I want to find games on my phone, it's that potential customers looking for entertainment are going to look elsewhere if they have no confidence in the overall quality level of the stores offerings - which has an impact on the market.  We've admitted that steam has a bunch of issues that impact devs, but it's not just steam - the mobile app stores have similar issues like being full up on garbage that discourages people from using the platform (IMO).  I've never even heard of anyone buying games from the Windows Store- but I know there are games on there.  What it ends up meaning is that people won't bother with using those platforms for discovery - they'll only ever really search for known quantities, which means you have to work that much harder to get your stuff in front of customer eyes outside of the platform.

Things like asset flips, lack of curation, or people exploiting these systems (like to make money from steam cards or whatever else) in whatever way are exerting a force on the market.  Sure, we can take Unity out of the discussion, but regardless, those forces are still there.

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