Social Action Project – Essay – The Reichenbach Fall in Gaming

The gaming industry has had a rough time in recent years with the introduction of micro-transactions and season passes which are becoming a lot more popular in big triple A games. The damage that has be caused to single and multiplayer games by these two money making schemes has been disastrous for most games. There are so many other ways developers can get a bigger profit from a game which doesn’t involve more purchases inside the game or a season pass that isn’t trustworthy. I will be looking into how developers could stop this scamming and give possible suggestions on how they could make money elsewhere. But first, for the people who are unfamiliar with micro-transactions and season passes, I will breakdown what they do, where they started and why they are still going strong today.

Season passes are like a VIP ticket where you gain access to all or most of the DLC that comes out for a game. These allow the gamer to buy the DLC Inside of the season pass cheaper than buying them all separately. It started off in 2009 with a new IP called ‘Borderlands’ which has become very popular over the years. They had 4 different pieces of DLC so decided to bundle it together and give it to the customers for a discounted price and ended up calling it a ‘season pass’. This idea became very popular and other developers took this system and used it for their games. This is a very clean and efficient way of developers giving DLC for cheaper than they actually are but there have been some cases where season passes have ripped of their customers. This can be done in a couple of ways. The big and most problematic reason is when the contents haven’t been announced yet and the developers are expecting you to buy it just because it’s a season pass. What the developers want you to do is buy the season pass when the game first releases, so you have access to future DLC that you could end up disliking. If you only like one piece of DLC in the season pass, you wasted around forty pounds when you could have just got that DLC for a way cheaper price.

This system is easily abused and toyed with to allow the developer to choose what they want in the season pass. Let me put you in a situation. You buy a season pass for the standard price of forty pounds, everything in the season pass is awful. Meanwhile, a separate piece of DLC is released and is not part of the season pass which is really good. This is what happened with Destiny, the two expansions in the season pass got negative reviews and when ‘The Taken King’ was released and announced it wouldn’t be a part of the season pass, people got mad because they pay for two awful expansions and as soon as a good one comes along, they have to pay more to obtain it. This is the problem, not all DLC’s were announced for Destiny so people couldn’t make an informed decision and had to wing it. This isn’t a rare sight either, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront and Bethesda’s Fallout 4 had a season pass and took just over a year for them to announce and release all the DLC contained. Season passes can be manipulated in such a way that people pay for something they don’t want or something they don’t even.

Micro-transactions are a system that allows you to buy in-game items and currency to either help along or boost players level and XP to make them complete a game faster. This is an awful idea. They started on mobile games around a decade ago now and in recent years have sneaked onto the radar of Triple A games which have scooped them up and put them inside their full priced game. The developer who do this don’t really have a reason but a strong opinion for micro-transactions. Paul Rustchynsky, a developer for ‘Driveclub’, a PS4 exclusive driving game, said that micro-transactions inside ‘Driveclub’ is an “non-issue”. His reasoning for micro-transactions in his game is confusing but here’s what he said “We don’t want them to use them really, We want them to play the tour and naturally progress through the cars.” I was very confused with this because he says he doesn’t want his customers to use the micro-transactions but decides to put them in anyway. He’s says they’re “not intrusive. It’s almost invisible. It’s something we actually kind of hide a little bit.” He doesn’t give a reasoning for why they are “almost invisible” but from his next quote it sounds like he took inspiration from ‘Motorstorm RC’, which was the last game in the ‘Motorstorm’ series but ‘Motorstorm RC’ had the same system as Driveclub “and there were no complaints,” Rustchynsky said. “If anything people said, ‘that’s a great way to access this content immediately.’”. Now what he’s doing here is comparing a series killing game to a launch title that will be advertised all over the world right beside the PS4 itself. They are two completely different games but Paul treats them as the same. So his point for putting micro-transactions into the game, which he disagrees with, was ‘this other game did it so why can’t we?’

But when small developers say these types of things about micro-transactions, people don’t tend to freak out that much but when the CCO, Chief Compliance Officer, of EA turns round and starts to say things like “micro-transactions will be in every game”, then maybe we should be more concerned. Peter Moore, who is the CCO of EA and presents a lot of EA’s conferences, believes that micro-transactions and free-to-play games are an inevitable of gaming’s future. EA is one of the biggest gaming development companies of this generation and has a lot of power to turn games that were once considered brilliant into a really atrocious games. The main ones that really annoyed a lot of people were ‘Dungeon Keeper Mobile’ and ‘Star Wars Battlefront’. The first Battlefront os considered one of the best games ever made and it shows with massive battles going up to 128 vs 128 people and that was in 2004. But the most obnoxious and vile acts they have done was release Dungeon Keeper on mobile. Doesn’t sound that bad does it? A classic game put on a portable device so you can play it where ever you want. Brilliant! But no, they decided making it free, which is never a good sign, and added horrendous micro-transactions and wait timers. Even though they are very powerful, most of the gamer’s hate them and with a passion. And with these comments they can hate them even more because Peter Moore carried on to say “I believe that the real growth is bringing billions of people into the industry and calling them gamers. Hardcore gamers won’t like to hear this.” What he is saying here is that he wants to introduce new gamer’s into an industry that just have free-to-play games and to only way to win is to pay and keep pumping money into a game until you are bored and move onto the next. This is why gaming is going down hill! It’s because people like Moore only thinks about themselves and don’t consider the gamer’s in any way. It’s disrespectful that he even mentioned the idea of bringing a mobile based system to console and PC’s.

10 years ago we didn’t have to worry about micro-transactions and season passes. When we handed the money over, we got a case, inside that case there was a disc with a full game inside. Now we have to buy the game and season passes and worry if there will be micro -transactions in the game. Gaming news outlets now have to reassure people that there will or won’t be a season pass or micro-transactions in a game. If all this disappears and developers stop being so greedy towards their customers, maybe we can have a fun, happy environment in gaming. But I don’t think that greed will disappear anytime soon. A lot changes in 10 years.

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