Can you imagine (stick with me here) buying a jacket from your local high street shop. “Fantastic choice sir, that is one of our most popular items” the shopkeeper would say whilst counting your hard earned money. “I will go and collect your order from the back”. After a few minutes, said shopkeeper returns and gives you the jacket, “But this jacket has no sleeves? Or buttons?” “Oh no sir, you must return tomorrow and pay extra for those, maybe you’ll get the buttons and sleeves, maybe you won’t, but it’s only 79p each time you come back”. MADNESS. We wouldn’t tolerate that, so why do we within the gaming community? That silly metaphoric shopkeeper is the greedy gaming corporations we seem to have rolled over for, begging the question – do we actually own our games anymore?
Do you remember when you last purchased a game and it came with a full description on the back and a manual on the inside? Back in the “old days” I would study that thing religiously after purchase, itching to get home and play. Things are slightly different nowadays, if indeed you do actually buy a physical copy of a game, mostly you will be greeted with nothing on the inside, if you are lucky you may get an advertisement or a promotion for the upcoming DLC for the game you think you own. You might say: “But we get games within games! This means more content!” That’s not the point I’m making. Sure, individually they are not bank breaking (hence ‘micro’transactions) but this idea that was made acceptable within mobile gaming has snuck its way into our precious games. The chief financial officer for EA reported their profits from these ‘microtransactions’ were above $1.3 billion – is it getting out of hand? With those kind of profits, we should expect more in return.
Not all games contain microtransactions. And, if you want to do this, and you’re happy to, more power to you. I do not mean to sound old and cynical, I’m also not saying we all should start a revolution, myself personally just can’t comply anymore. Now if this means I run the risk of not having a new coloured gun in Call of Duty, or a simpler way to get a new player on Fifa, etc, so be it.
I understand we are now in a digital age. (who needs manuals right?) and I do look forward to certain DLC, for example I gave my money for The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne’s DLC because it seemed worth it, they weren’t pulling the wool over my eyes. These are fully fleshed out content. Microtransactions (hopefully) have no place here. Practically all big releases are coming out with a season pass as an optional purchase with the game, a lot of gamers have FOMO (fear of missing out) so will blindly pay the extra £/$20 (sometimes a lot more) for the season pass in the hope it will be worth it. Most of the time I felt cheated for paying extra for something that should have already been in the game.
Are these companies not making enough profits? Are they worried their game will fade away, and the DLC is being used as an expensive throwback? Or is it just a business ploy to keep a trickle of cash flowing into their pockets all year round. The point is, we comply, is this the new norm? We dont use cheat codes anymore – we simply pay for them. And yes, things could be a lot worse, and this is indeed an exciting time for gaming technology, and as time and technology advances, there should not be any room for exploitation.