LVUER wrote:Perhaps the question here is not "commercial games is better quality than free ones", but rather "what is the minimum quality that needed for commercial games?" or may be "What is the minimum standard for a game before you are willing to pay to play it?"
Modified question is more problematic cause no true minimum but almost all posters will be guilty of trying to answer.
It's like poker game where big money pot bluffing strat would be recommended for small money pot bluffing strat but minimum bet should be different to begin with cause people's psychology different when money matters differ.
Example, SquareSoft believed that people are going to pay to play for Final Fantasy so they put most on their budget on Final Fantasy.
Company succeeded at developing FF1, FF7 and FF8 at a risk of a loss and they were rewarded.
Easy to think they have obvious answer to what minimum standard to make people play.
Three games were maximum. Other FF like V who improved class system and VI who improved storytelling system were high budgets minimums improving on key areas rather than overhauls.
On generic ignorant surface, there is no hint that Square would not know how to make FF fail to make people want to pay for it.
History differs: merged with Enix, modern FFs blamed for not being as good, bulk of diverse Square games die down cause only FF can make up for sales and successful risks dwindle.
History chock full of such developments. Prototype, Black Isle games, Fallout.
It is such risks that demand that even indie developers must maximized their profits. Those who can do minimum are not doing minimum. It would be as crazy as accepting prize money of 100 instead of 1000. Those who are doing minimum are doing minimum thinking they can get away with being lazier and still make a profit. Maybe cause of deadlines, maybe cause of contracts, maybe cause they think length of game is enough, maybe cause that's length they all want to put into it but only cause they have gotten good/want to play lottery.
Minimum thinking is suicide for commercial games if only cause you never know the odds are. You never know whether your audience would truly buy your game at period or some big budget game or indie android game would wash over trend. Even bugs can redirect schedule.
Opposite true too: What if you have GOAT VN and settled for less? That's profits down the drain. Game you minimally plan to make coulda become best selling franchise and you skimped on it and it suddenly sells at a loss.