Gaming’s Reputation (is it going down the drain?)

Microtransactions are becoming an issue in this industry, and not because they’re creating a profit. For companies they’re great. They’re a passive revenue stream that is the ‘gift that keeps on giving’. For the companies, that is.

For the customer, they’ve become a leech. How many times can you purchase a game? It’s impossible to tell how bad this is going to get. Just this year NBA 2K18 made you pay for a different hairstyle. I mean, buying the game isn’t enough.

Battlefront 2 had issues with microtransactions that have become well publicised, so did Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Assassin Creed: Origins and even Overwatch is starting to get backlash. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Ubisoft is making more money from ‘player recurring investment’ than their ‘digital distribution’. They’re making more money from their ‘live service’ model and the revenue has only grown year on year.

Sony is looking into it, with their CEO John Kodera stating ‘appropriate exploration and decisions taken in the future’ in reference to microtransactions. I think PS Plus is bad enough, but this is getting excessive.

There is only so much blood you can get from a stone.

Games have an ‘entrance fee’ of a certain amount. In America it’s generally $60. Then consoles expect you to pay for online multiplayer. In most games you don’t have the option of couch co-op. Then you now have to pay for things that used to be unlockable content, or in the worst case scenario, gameplay features.

This won’t last forever.

People aren’t made of money and soon they’ll stop playing; or, and this is worrying, it’ll turn into the mobile gaming market. Yes, there will still be good games, with indie games being particularly healthy in this regard, with just an ‘entry fee’. Or as it used to be known, a purchase.

People may continue to pay enough microtransactions to justify this move, but I don’t think it’ll last. Gaming will get the same reputation that mobile gaming has. All it takes is for enough teenagers to ‘accidentally’ spend their parents money for a real issue to occur. Or a spouse to spend too much money for their significant other to really blow a gasket.

It’s a ticking time bomb. In a few years from now, if all games require additional purchases, how long will it be before people decide gaming, or to be more clear AAA gaming, is just too damn expensive? When a parent looks at a kid and says, I already bought the console and the game, what else?

It won’t be what a parent remembers from their youth. It could stop lapsed gamers from ‘coming back’. It also doesn’t help that the practice of microtransactions are being compared to gambling. It’s an unflattering look.

It’d be different if games updated consistently with new free content to offset this ‘cost’. Titanfall 2 did it a little bit, Overwatch did, so did Arms, Witcher 3 and Splatoon 2. Three of these games you only had to spend money on once (the last three). When Witcher 3 had additional content for sale, it was worth it. The expansions were so big, they were ‘games’ on their own (in terms of length). Even Horizon Zero Dawn had an expansions in a similar vein.

But generally speaking, this isn’t happening.

Gamers are a stone that’s been bled dry. I’m convinced that if it keeps going this way, in a few years, they’d have killed the golden goose. And gaming? It’ll have a reputation that it just won’t be able to shake.

8 comments

  1. Angelica Fuchs · November 15, 2017

    It will be interesting to see how the model changes when it comes to microtransactions. I can’t help but think about games with subscriptions fees such as World of Warcraft–what makes those acceptable (or are they not) when contrasted with the microtransactions of other AAA titles? In the case of World of Warcraft, you’re not only paying for each expansion, but also for the maintenance (privilege to play imo) as well as certain cosmetics in game such as transmog armor and pets. It seems like a massive money drain, but the game still maintains a large number of subscribers. Do other companies look at WoW as an example and think they can get away with microtransactions therefore on their own titles? Why does WoW get away with it (or does it) when Overwatch (another Blizzard title which got into hot water because of their cosmetic lootbox system) and Star Wars Battlefront II don’t? Is the line drawn when it becomes a requirement to play the game as in the case of Star Wars Battlefront II, or are consumers simply deciding that now, they won’t accept it anymore with new titles?

    Liked by 1 person

    • rentedtitan · November 15, 2017

      I think it has to do with the fact it’s becoming so common now, that so many games are doing it. It’s even in single player games now, and that’s not a format that suits that kind of game to me.

      I think it really comes down to the fact that when people play WoW, it might be the only game they play. But with other games, if you want to play what has been established, a fun experience that you purchased. Now for some games that was traditionally true for, it’s become impossible.

      Especially since they’ve made some of these games a grindfest. Taking away what could’ve been a better game. That’s what I think anyway 🙂

      Also the Activision patents, those are manipulative and legitimately very concerning.

      Liked by 1 person

    • GrissilyBare · November 19, 2017

      I think that Battlefront became widely unacceptable to the public because of the pay-to-win elements on top of a fully priced AAA game. Gamers tend to dislike but ignore free to play or mobile games with pay-to-win microtransactions, but when they are incorporated into a $60+ competitive multiplayer game, they got upset. At least, this was the case for me.

      As far as I know, the only major controversy about the Overwatch loot box system is whether or not it is gambling, not the fact that a cosmetic micro-transaction system exists. I may be wrong though. i don’t know much about WoW, as I don’t really enjoy MMOs and I’m not interested in subscription based games, but I think that people tend to tolerate it because it is being consistently supported and you can progress virtually perpetually.

      I think that it has become such a hotbed of controversy recently because several things happened at once. The Battlefront 2 pay-to-win mechanics, the Shadow of War loot boxes in a single player game, and the Activision patent situation. Also, the Bethesda Creation Club mess was not very long ago either. Each of those would be a problem on its own, but together, they represent a worrying shift in AAA business practices.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rentedtitan · November 20, 2017

        I agree, but also keep in mind cosmetic items in games used to be bonus content, and that’s worrying some people. It looks like Overwatch for a lot of people became the precedent to really create this huge mess with microtransactions to begin with.

        Also I wouldn’t say the mobile industry has escaped criticism. A lot of people are saying they don’t want the AAA gaming space to become that market.

        But thanks for your perspective, I thought it was a really interesting different take 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Geddy · November 21, 2017

      WoW cost monthly payments (along with other MMORPGs of the time) because they were constantly releasing bug patches and running massive amounts of servers. That was always my understanding. The funny thing was, you could pay the cost of the game, and get everything in a month if you had the time. Everything _was_ technically unlocked, you just played for constant patches. The world was “alive” with events coming and going. Halloween time? The whole city was decked out with pumpkins and candy and minigames and everything. Even as a college student with no money, vanilla WoW made sense to have a monthly pass. It was like a big theme park.

      What changed is that now you have things that are blocked from the full game when you pay the full game price. And that price you pay in microtransactions makes you able to skip the boring, monotonous gameplay. It doesn’t enhance the game, it makes it.. not terrible. That’s unacceptable to me, personally.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reikoku Ninja · December 23, 2017

    Battlefront 2 marks a major victory for the video game consumer, but whether this turns the tides in their favor is yet to be seen. It all depends on if gamers stay outraged and keep voting with their wallets like they did with Battlefront 2, or they go back to the rat race of “I guess this is how it has to be”. Either way, I feel that the biggest winners in this situation are Indie studios and good studios in general. Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice proved without a doubt that it is possible to have AAA quality for less than $60, with no microtransactions and make a profit, which proves that AAA publishers are lying. Time will tell, but for now, the crucifixion of Battlefront 2 has sent a strong message to the greedy publishers.

    Like

  3. rentedtitan · December 23, 2017

    Yeah, but it took months for Hellblade to break even. I think it’ll be awhile before video games will be
    sold at $30. I think that game is an exception to the rule. I hope more come out like it, but until then, publishers are going to look for other revenue streams.

    Why they don’t stick to things like physical mechanise is beyond me. Nintendo did it and it worked out very well for them.

    Like

    • Reikoku Ninja · December 23, 2017

      Or go back to the “expansion set” days of gaming. You would think that would be all the rage with all the sequels they like to produce. Make a good ip with a nice modular engine, and then you can produce decent expansions and sell them for a reasonable price. Most of the development costs are spent on building a new engine or making a pre-built engine work for the game. I think that part of the reason they don’t do this is that of the perceived need to have the best possible graphics.

      Like

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