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.