Can we talk about the anti-consumerism in this game and the industry?

This is gonna be long, so I'm gonna get some things out of the way:

  • First and foremost, your money is your money. As long as something is legal, you're free to spend it how you wish and theres no shame if you want to blow it.

  • This post is mostly not a call to arms to reduce the price of the microtransactions. I just want an honest discussion regarding the ethics and the justification for having the prices where they're at or adjusting them either way. They have stated they don't intend to change monetization, so this isn't a rally. This is a discussion. However, I will go over things we can do to encourage developers in general to promote more pro-consumer practices.

  • And to further enhance a healthy discussion, please avoid downvoting people just because you disagree with them. For the sake of avoiding a hive mind-type discussion, up vote something you agree with, and downvote toxic or non-contributing people. That's it.

  • This is a pretty broad topic, so expect this post and any comments/threads that may be generated to be fairly lengthy. If thats not your cup of tea, have this be your deterrent.

  • Lastly, on mobile, so please forgive any typos or formatting errors.


To generate various venues in which we can discuss, I'm gonna start from the beginning and give my input along the way.

So, why do I belive mDLC is bad?

Well, it's not particularly bad, but it absolutely can be. Microtransactions were popularized by Valve on their titles CSGO and TF2. These are two very highly acclaimed titles that basically showed off to the entire industry that there's more profit in mDLC than full DLC.

In fact, microtransactions are such a big factor in regards to profit margins that they are more profitable than full games. Even for Valve, who have made some of the most highly acclaimed titles of all time such as L4D, TF2, CSGO, Dota, Halflife and even bloody Portal. These games are some of the most reputable, best-selling and still most concurrently played games to date. In spite of that, they have made it clear that they don't intend to make any more games. Most of their lead writers and developers have since left their studios because of this.

To reitaterate the point I'm making, some of the most notorious and fun games made by one of the best developers has ceased because making fully-fledged games is such a non-factor in contrast to the behemoth that is microtransactions. That is fucking insane and people are sleeping on it. Am I missing something here? Someone please tell me I am.

If this is genuinely true, it not only effects each game we play, but it can outright result in AAA titles being even more shallow than they already are (Black Market, pride and accomishment. You know what I'm talking about) and can lead to developers who are known for their pro-consumerism being abandoned for the sake of profits. I'm referring to Cyberpunk here.

CD ProjektRed (You know them for the Witcher titles)is a very reputable developer for being so in-touch with their community, apologizing consistently for anti-consumer practices (and working toward fixing them) and releasing games and calling them DLC. (have you people played Blood and Wine?)

It's been made clear to even them that there are large profits in the practice, and as such, microtransactions have been confirmed for Cyberpunk 2077. While I don't think this will outright ruin the game, as these guys do have a history for good fucking games, it does highlight how even developers who refuse the practice for ethical reasons will later adopt said practices. And who am I to blame them? They work! Microtransactions work so well! That's not on them, that's on us!

*I was mistaken about CD Projekt Red's new game. My apologies. I don't see any purpose in outright cutting it so I'll just strikethrough it. Cheers /u/TheChessur. *

For another example on on how they can effect a specific game, think about Black Ops 3. I don't think many people would argue when I say this: campaign aside, BO3 was easily the best Cod game to date, but its Black Market was so corrosive, so anti-consumer (and P2W), it deterred many, many players. Don't get me wrong, the game was a huge success because microtransactions fucking work, but it absolutely ruined the game for a lot of players enjoyabiliy-wise.

To elaborate more on BO3, Activision has even patented an algorithm a while back that makes players who haven't purchased microtransactions get queued with players who have to encourage buying them. Normally this would be smart, but because of how many guns are locked behind a pay wall, this meant that non paying players had to fight these weapons. And players who payed for these weapons would be queued with people who hadn't.

Microtransactions hurt the industry, individual games, hinder game development, or even outright stop it. But they're necessary. They are absolutely necessary.

Now, that's not contradictory. AAA titles being released for 60 dollars is hardly enough anymore for the sizes of some of these firms. Most games nowadays-especially for games with such a lengthy lifespan, such as Siege or CSGO- need more than 60 dollars per consumer. And no one should expect you to pay 90-150 dollars outright on a synopsis alone. DLC add to the lifespan and health of a game when they're good, but can often times not even be worth the production cost. So a simple solution can be to make low-effort transactions that cost a small amount of money, but because of the low price, are inherently readily accessible for nearly every consumer. And when I say low effort, I mean effort so low that a single artist can make a micro transaction in a few hours. I ignore the programming side of it because for the most part that's copy and paste.

So, that's how things developed. We started out with low prices, and publishers such as Activision were releasing 1-2 dollar Microtransactions. A lot of attention was brought to the dangers of them, but most people acknowledged their importance. So we let them happen. We bought Microtransactions.

And when I say us, I mean myself included. I fucked up and I've thrown 300 dollars at Paladins. PALADINS OF ALL THINGS. I put forth more money than they expect from me towards the second-most incompetent development studio I know. So I know I'm part of the problem. Chances are, so are you.

Basically, the point I'm trying to make is this: Microtransactions are necessary, and they're here to stay. But we have and always have had a say on these prices. But for some reason, we buy into them despite the STILL rising prices. I don't expect this post to even escape New for crying out loud, but I ask that the few people who do bother to read this far to do something: don't buy Microtransactions that are overpriced, low quality or from an abhorrent development studio.

18 dollars for a Microtransaction is fucking abhorrent, but it's nothing compared to some of the things we've seen. 80 dollars for Vader, 500 dollars for a pose, knife and quip, up to thousands of dollars for knife that you dont even use(CSGO).

We can get those 2-3 dollar skins back, but we've shown the industry how incompetent we are as consumers. We've shown the entire world that we're so bloody incompetent that laws had to be made to prevent legalized child gambling because parents were too lazy to monitor their kids. We've shown the developers that we don't care for our money. We've shown the world that we wouldn't mind paying 10 dollars for a litre of Mountain Dew, you just have to throw "gamer fuel" on it and we'll fucking buy it. You can triple the cost of a bag of chips because… Gamer chips!

And the sad part? I'm a little heated at this part so please forgive any crudeness or directory, but… people defend it. Now, again, you're free to spend your money on hookers and blow, but that doesn't mean you necessarily should. But you can if it's legal where you're at. Go for it.

Either way, people defend it. And the arguments I've seen are piss-poor. I'm open to a decent argument, but the most notable ones?:

  • It's a free game. So what? F2P games can often make more money than P2P titles do. I mean, Fornite is rolling in mad dough as the most obvious example. Every game regardless of the base price should be held to a standard. They are a business-not our friend, and just because they're free at base, that doesn't mean they get a 'get out of jail free' pity card. No, if their anti-consumer practices ruin or hinder a game, there is no justification for it. We are the consumers, and if we don't like the prices, we should call them out for it. If they resist us outright, they will fail as a business (not referring to Respawn here) and the rest of the industry will take note of their mistakes. As such, if people find their goat to sacrifice, we can advocate more pro-consumer practices.

  • It doesn't effect you. You don't have to buy them Please reread the comment regarding Valve stopping game production. It absolutely does. And even then, even on this game in particular, Apex Legends, there are traces of P2W practices being employed. It's not nearly as severe as many mobile games, city games or the Cod titles to name a few, but it does exist in this game. Almost every legendary weapon offers a variant with improved iron sights, a slimmer model (Wingman) or simply a falsified hitbox (Pathfinder's legendary skins. All of them) are all apparent instances of P2W features. Buying more micro transactions increases the odds of you getting as many of these as possible. Again, it's not as severe as many games, but there is no denying its presence here.

  • Blame EA, not Respawn. It's not EA's fault or Respawn's. It's mine. It's yours. It's us. We buy into this shit, and then we defend it. Again, we have showcased our blatant incompetence. Kids are gambling and the working class are generating actual markets based off of digital skins scaling up to the thousands per skin among hundreds of items.

We are the consumers, and they are businesses. I am going to put aside passion projects, small firms and indie developers aside. I am mainly referring to the conglomerates and huge ass AAA titles here: they are a business. They are not our friends. They have absolutely no incentive to employ ethical pro-consumer practices unless if we give them a reason to. And we haven't. And we won't. Rallies and posts have rised the ranks and yet micro transactions only continue to embed this industry. They will stay, only increasing in cost. We have given them no reason to stop. So they won't.


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