Videogames have such a special meaning to me but for some reason they are being tainted by greed – microtransactions. What is happening and why can’t our games stay untouched and pristine?
I Love Games
As everyone knows (if you read the site on the regular) I am a video game lover. Ever since that wonderful Christmas morning in 1989 when I was given my NES by my uncle, my life has never been the same. I lived video games, but not in an unhealthy way. I was not one of these kids who locked themselves in their parent’s basement, played games, and had some general fear of natural lighting. I loved sports and playing outside and I led a very fun childhood. But every Friday as soon as I arrived home from school to my mothers feet I begged, “Mom! It’s Friday and I have no homework and I think we should rent a video game!”. If I actually had homework was another story all together and my mother never fell for that “we” should rent a game nonsense. Never the less most Friday’s ended with a game rental, a pizza, and eventually the family sitting down for a night of Rescue 911, COPS, and America’s Most Wanted.
I am much older now as you might guess. I no longer require games to be rented for me and Rescue 911 is no longer on the air much to my dismay. Yet I still get that same feeling when I sit down to play a game that I have never played. The butterflies build up and my brain starts to accelerate for I am about to enter my element.
Years down the road I was eventually employed by one of the big box computer store giants for a few years while in college. This gave me access to all these games that I have a need for. Eventually I picked up my Xbox 360 and I fell in love. After much playing I start to see all of this new content becoming available on LIVE (online market for Xbox). What is this content that can be downloaded? I think to my self wow that is really awesome I can expand my gameplay for FREE! oh……………no………………………………… this isn’t free at all?! This is when my brain-universe began to wrench.
I had seen where you can buy an entire game for the console on Xbox Live, and the same with the computer. Online purchases are becoming the norm so nothing is new there. But now I have a choice to add new levels or outfits for my character. Ok I can accept this, something that is new and I will cope with it. This becomes acceptable as I justify this as an expansion pack as I am used to that term with my PC games. I can spend a few bucks here and there if it makes my favorite games last longer. The universe has been returned to a peaceful state once again (or so I thought).
Continue to the Next Stage
Time passes and this new thing that will eventually be called DLC or downloadable content becomes very prominent with console and PC gaming and I kind of accept it. Yes, inside I really feel that if you are going to patch and improve your game why not just make it available to the masses. These companies already make a killing off their games but I digress and accept what I cannot change.
Now this is around the time that I acquire my first smart phone. Ok this is really fun. I can have games with me at all times and I don’t need to carry my Gameboy around like in the old days. This may be the beginning of something dangerous for my self and millions of others. So little by little I start building up my app library. There seems to be more and more free stuff appearing that isn’t fart sound effects and beer glass simulators. While this freedom starts to appear something else starts to spring up. This thing is dark and evil and tasteless and I hate it. This thing is called a microtransaction or “Pay-to-Play”.
Over time I start to ask my self WHY? What is the purpose of this? Why do I have to pay money to keep playing a game? This isn’t an arcade. I own my phone and I downloaded this game. I shouldn’t have to pay $1.99 for more energy so that I can continue cooking dinner, or tending to my hotel, or farming zombie faces. This makes no sense!
Yes reader I know what you are probably thinking, it will be one of 2 things. Either you say to your self “Sean these aren’t real games anyway” or you will say “Heck! These games are free anyway so why not let the company make a little money”.
To you I will say you are right, and there is no use getting upset over something so silly. I will take a breather and just settle down. Woosah! Woosah! Ok the universe is getting better.
The Final Evil – Microtransactions
I have since accepted that microtransactions help fund games. I get that, not every company can sell a $60 game and make a profit, or even sell units. I also get not everyone is willing to dive into a subscription based game like World of Warcraft or Terra. This is a money-making industry and people need to make money, it cannot all be for passion.
It seems that the new thing that I cannot deal with is the “Pay-to-Win” model of games. You like a game? Good, now are you good at it? Yes, well that is just great have fun…..want to be better? Then pay us some money and we will give you the best gear and the most money. This is not a new ideal nor is it going to go away any time soon. There will always be people who are looking for a leg up, and the developers are willing to trade that advantage for some cash. It almost seems like hey if you want to use our cheat code you have to pay us some money. That is all well and good, I can get over that but recently something shook the brain-universe to the core and the volcano of anger spewed forth hate. What could cause this you may ask? One single game: Sleeping Dogs.
Sleeping Dogs is a game for Xbox, PS3, and PC in the same style as Grand Theft Auto, Mafia, and Saint’s Row. I really dig games like this and the story telling is top-notch here. I loved this game (notice I said LOVED — past tense) until the first round of DLC was released. In these DLC packs you would guess there might be new areas that are unlocked, or possibly new gameplay modes. Nope, that is not the case at all. Here is a list of the downloadable content:
Retro Triad Pack – $1.99
Go old school with a killer look and ride straight out of the 80s! New hair, accessories, clothes and boots are combined with an 80s style kung fu van to complete the look. Items come with their own buffs, increasing your damage resistance, Triad and Face experience and striking damage.
Top Dog Gold Pack – $2.99
Earn major respect by boosting your Cop, Face and Triad Experience Points and gaining new abilities. Gives you 8,250 Triad, 4,500 Cop and 4,500 extra Face Experience Points. For the ultimate in upgrades combine with the Top Dog Silver Pack.
The Red Envelope Pack – $2.99
Need help buying that fast car, fancy threads or luxury items for your new apartment? For fortune and prosperity download the Red Envelopes Pack. There are 20 envelopes each stuffed with $50k, scattered throughout Hong Kong, find them all and you’ll net a cool 1 Million HK dollars to spend on whatever you want.
The High Roller Pack – $2.99
Want that fast track to the in-crowd? Look like the real deal with the super fast, luxury Tuono vehicle and High Roller outfit. Plus, with an extra $200k to burn you can be sure to get ahead and get noticed. Please note this pack gives you early access to the Tuono vehicle and the High Roller outfit, these items can also be earned through the normal game progression.
Top Dog Silver Pack – $1.99
Boost your Cop, Face and Triad Experience Points to earn respect fast and gain new abilities. Gives you 5,500 Triad, 3,000 Cop and 3,000 extra Face Experience Points. For the ultimate upgrade combine with the Top Dog Gold Pack.
The Retro Triad Pack is acceptable, OK, but I would never pay $2.00 for new outfits for a character. Now look down that list and what do you see? You can buy gold for real dollars! This is not FarmVille or some other Facebook web app here. This is a high budget incredibly developed open world game. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the first game, nor the first game for the consoles, or even single player, that is doing this. It is just Sleeping Dogs you are in my cross hairs and you have donated your body to be the straw which causes my brain-universe to reach forth and shed anger upon you.
This nonsense of microtransactions is a plague on the industry. This will be the slow death of what videogaming was. It makes me nostalgic and wish to have those old days back. Where I could buy a game and play it without the fear of not being able to progress past a certain point without paying the troll-toll to get back that boy’s soul. I do not want to shell out $60 for a game try my hardest putting in an ungodly amount of time just to have someone else be able to achieve that same thing in a quarter of the time just because they paid a cheaters tax. This tarnishes the game, the developer, and the industry. If you want to make free gold available, then publish the cheat codes, don’t hold them for ransome. It just comes off as disgusting greed. E-N-D.
Message to developers: Stop this please, you are destroying the industry. Maintain what honor you may have left and stop this pay-to-win nonsense. The real gamers out there do not look highly upon it.
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