This Blog 2019, Goals and Grommets

Inspired by the 2019 goals post over at Charles's Dragons Never Forget Blog, I figured I would do the same thing. 2018 right around ...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Microtransactions are destroying my love of video games.

Microtransactions are destroying my love of video games.
(kind of a bonus post not related to the rest of the blog. I'm not going to announce this one around, so if you are reading this, Thank you.)

I am a gamer of that original gamer generation. I'm 38, I remember playing pinball and Pac man in the arcade. I owned an Atari 2600, even Pong was part of my early years.
I did not have every system through the years mostly for financial reasons, but once I had my own cash I have had the systems I have wanted and played the games I have wanted to play. So that's a solid 20 + years of steady plying.

However this also puts me in a group where games are still just games.
To some of the the younger gaming generation games are the movies, the competition, and the culture. Halo is their star wars, call of duty is there Monday night NFL, and they seem to be willing to spend cash to get ahead.

Here is my gripe:
It used to be that when you bought a game you got whatever was on the disk and that's it, every one had to go through the same steps to unlock whatever was there.
Companies now have options.
They can
Add newer better things to the game and charge you for them, post release.
Make a thing much easier to get via micro-transaction than it will be in game.

Lets look a Battlefield 4,
Battle-packs contain weapon and gadgets and are rewarded for ranking up in multilayer or may be purchased. Some players will choose to rank up and unlock the packs however others will just buy them and have all the stuff right out of the gate. Giving a level 3 soldier who purchased his stuff with real money a marked advantage over a player who is ranking up. Add to this that every incarnation of the game has had an increasingly slower rank up mechanic and int becomes pretty tempting to buy battle-packs. In years past they have waited a while then let people buy all the weapons for a class as one unlock, usually regular players would have 90% of the unlocks already so it never really offended me.
This is different, it will unbalance the game, particularly as they add more items to the game via DLC.

About DLC.
If something is new content DLC is a good thing, and I am willing to pay for it.
What gears of war did last years was to make things that were already on the disk pay for “DLC.”
I strongly disagree with this, I paid for that disk and the content on it.
According to Gears OW judgment sold 1.75 million units at $60 bucks a pop.. I'm no math wiz but that is a good amount of money. Don't lock things on the disk.
This is the game company telling you yet again that when you buy a game you are simply buying a plastic wafer you don't really own any rights of use to any thing else, IE the information on the disk is still theirs to manipulate any way they please even after you purchase it. This does not sit well with me.

Grand Theft Auto V has a system for buying in game cash with real money, I doubt this will unbalance the game. It might be an issue on multi player but considering GTA open multilayer is really just an invite for gamers to come and troll each other like a bunch of A-holes. Who cares. What bothers me is a company that just broke every sales record for a game and who were the sole generator of a third of the whole  gaming industry's sales at release. (Making some 800 million in 24 hours.) They still feel the need to milk a bit more out of some kid who really wants that one fast car to win street races and who is stupid enough to drop real money to get it.

My last and most striking example form a personal perspective is NBA2k14.
A sports game
Built around online competition.
It has a mode called my team, which is basically a card collecting game where you build a team.
Your initial team is woeful and you can spend points to buy better players.
You earn points by beating teams in season mode, or beating other players teams online.
You earn 250 points for a win.
Many of the good players cost in the thousands.

Two days after the game came out I tried my team online and got smoked by a guy who had a team full of “gold” level players. I would have to put in hundreds of hours of gameplay to earn enough in game points to buy an all star team like I faced. It killed the mode for me. Dead.
The trend extends to other modes of play. They have stretched out the price to improve your "my player" even further than last year. Maxing out one stat casts between 7 thousand and 16 thousand depending on the stat. You get around 200 points per average game, 400 points if you do really well. A game takes about 30 minutes, figure it out. They have made it much easier to spend $10 bucks for 50 thousand points. Thanks 2K.

Let me finally conclude.
I like games, and if you make a free to play game like Team Fortress 2 and want to charge for hats and guns, go for it.
However if the game is based around competition (BF4, COD, NBA2k14) and a company decides to stack the playing field towards gamers willing to spend real money for virtual advantage. I'm not cool with it, it spoils the experience.

Also charging me extra for content that is already part of the game I just bought, feels slimy.

$60 for a game, then extra money for a season pass, even more cash for DLC, then the price of online gaming service like Ps-plus or Xbox gold, and finally not being able to buy a used game and go online unless I buy an access code for another fee. (This I understand the game company has to make something off used games.)
I am paying like three or four times Just to enjoy a game with friend.

It seems to me like it is getting out of hand.

This I think is part of why board games and RPG's are seeing a resurgence amongst 30 somethings. A good number of long time gamers are getting disenfranchised and are looking to new outlets for social fun.
I hope the trending growth of face to face gaming at least continues.
As for me and video games, I'm not sure I can keep contributing to an industry I feel has been taking unnecessary advantage of it's base.

Some links to more articles about the subject.
Not all of these articles agree with my point of view, but that's how it should be.

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