Thursday, December 6, 2007

Nickle and dimed

Remember the good ole' days when you would buy a game and everything you could ever need to enjoy the title (assuming it was enjoyable to begin with) was right there on the disc? Nowadays, not so much. Despite the epic development times and high cost of admission, more and more games are coming out incomplete these days. It wouldn't be as big a deal if we weren't being asked to pay even more as the months go by to complete the game in stages. Thanks internet. You really screwed us on this one.

A game comes out and costs you sixty clams but, what's this, it's only single player and the campaign lasts a mere six hours. Not to worry, extra side quests will be made available for ten bucks a pop and the pleasure of an online mode will only set you back an additional half C-note. And we buy this stuff?! Yes. Because we needzez it or we won't get the full experience and be cool like that Mike kid down the street. Also, when these $10 map packs come out for multiplayer, guess which maps everyone will now be playing. It's either pay the extra cash or play by your onesies. The genius of it all angers me to no end.

Then there's those little add-ons that cost something like 99 cents. Everyone argues, "but it's only 99 cents, joo can sparz it ya cheap bastard." That's not the point! Why am I paying ANY amount for an extra paintjob to be slapped over an existing skeleton? The 99 cents start to add up after a while. Shouldn't these little additions that add literally nothing to the playing experience be more of a thank you note from the publisher for purchasing their expensive game in the first place?

I guess I should count my lucky stars. About a year ago the rumor was a Madden game would be coming out with current teams, current rosters, home and away jerseys, and a small collection of stadiums to play in for full price. "Premium content," such as historical rosters and jerseys, extra modes and other teams' stadiums would come via download for a fee. What the hell is premium about things that, until this new generation, were standard in every other title? Sadly, with the current success of microtransactions, I see this setup as being a very likely fixture for future games.

And let's take a look at these games made specifically for download, shall we. I'll use my recently reviewed PAIN as an example. Sure, it's only ten dollars and a good way to get some laughs and watch the physics fly, but what are we really paying for? The answer is a way to get you both coming and going. You pay the initial ten bucks for the game featuring one map, a few single and multiplayer modes and some other little features. Then we get two skins less than 24 hours after the game's initial release for new characters costing a dollar each. If they were ready when the game was, as is made obvious by the instant availability, why weren't they in the title to begin with?

Later expansions will most likely include one map and maybe a character or two. I would expect, for a game costing $10, for such an expansion to cost about three bucks at most. Mark my words, we'll be paying at least double that. Had the game included a total of four or five maps, an extra mode or two and a few playable characters, it would have been perfect for the $10 price point. By the time this game is done, we'll have probably paid 30 smackers for something that, had we known the full cost of participation in the beginning, we would have most likely deemed too steep a price for what was being offered.

These microtransactions are great for games like Guitar Hero where an already extensive play list gets extra tracks, not because developers were lazy/greedy with the initial title, but because they want to keep cranking out legitimate content post-release. However, the "small" price tags for features that should have been included originally are unacceptable. I would say the only way we can fight this is with our wallets, but it wouldn't be fair to call anyone to arms when I know I myself will be buying into these diabolical tactics. I simply REFUSE to miss out on my Warhawk dropship.

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