Pre-orders, microtransactions and DLC – the parasites of this industry

feature-parasite

The time has come to speak up about the load of BS that’s taking place right in front of our eyes at this very moment. Games as we once knew it is something of the past. The Japanese companies that once owned the world (Capcom, Konami, Nintendo, SEGA and several others) are all struggling in this modern era. Though they’ve tried to adapt to the Western market it’s not quite worked, and when they were supposed to listen to consumer needs they dropped the ball. Since then the Western markets have taken over. Now it’s all about money and nothing else.

Not even console gamers are exempt from this global monstrosity. As soon as the first telephone line got plugged into the back of the SEGA Dreamcast it paved the way for consoles too.  Ironic that it’s a fallen Japanese hardware (now software-only) giant that got the ball rolling for Western corps to reap the benefits in the console market. With the arrival of the broadband era came the opportunity to download bigger files than ever before, at reasonable speeds and that meant one thing to the big corporations – money. Your money to be exact.

Let’s quickly jump back into the past. You bought a game, that shipped with several discs, if it was too big for one disc, and the product was complete. It worked out of the box. There was no DLC, there were no patches to fix anything (testers had a job to do) and there was no such thing as pre-orders. You walked into a store with little or no clue what you were going to buy as there were no marketing ploys to convince you otherwise. A game ‘launch day’? You’re kidding right? What’s that? You went home, stuck the game into your console and it worked. No need to install or download anything, it just worked. Today it’s a very different scenario.

Wheel Barrow Full of Money

Let’s take Assassin’s Creed: Unity for example. It’s the perfect candidate of current trends in the industry. Leading up to launch the game was hyped, as always. DLC was planned and so was microtransactions. More so, with each and every trailer you’d be reminded of a your pre-order bonuses. You know the stuff that was originally part of your game years ago? Yup, if you PAY THEM MONEY IN ADVANCE you can still secure those things, be it a weapon, clothing or something else that’s quite useless. It’s yours! Give them your money now! Oh, but wait, it won’t be the last time you give them your hard-earned money. Nope, you’ll have to pay more if you want the complete package.

Download Content has plagued this industry more than you would like to recall. Remember when you bought Tekken way back on your PS1 and PS2? You’d unlock characters whenever completing the Arcade mode. It gave you reason to continue playing the mode as you were awarded with a spiffy-looking CG cutscene as well as an additional character to play with. Now there’s nothing to unlock. “Here, have all the characters that’s PART OF THE DISC VERSION, and pay for unlockable characters. Here’s our banking details. K thanks, bye”.

Think of it this way – you’re only securing 50% of a game when you fork out your R900. The DLC will add at least R500 to that purchase and now we also have microtransactions, which will have you spending additional money. Hundreds of Rands. The mobile model has got it right – download the game for free and pay microtransactions for extras, it makes good sense. But microtransactions for a game that cost me R900? Do you take us for fools?

The problem with all this money hungry jargon is that we, as gamers, don’t only end up spending more money, but we also own unfinished products. Say hi to Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Driveclub and Halo: Master Chief Collection. Did you fall for the hype? Did your multiplayer experience bomb out on launch day? DID YOU GET YOUR PRE-ORDER BONUSES? Did the publisher get your money? Do you think they care that you’re not playing the complete product now that they’ve already secured your money? Should you perhaps reconsider this pre-order bullshit? These are important questions. If you’re spending an additional R500 on DLC and another R500 on microtransactions you’re spending close to R2000 per game you buy. It’s now that the Collector’s Edition with the Season Pass looks inviting right? Well, not even that covers you for ALL the DLC you’re planning to buy. One way or another they’re making money out of you. And if they don’t they’ll keep the game away from press so that you don’t know it’s crap, so you still give them your money you’ve pledged via your pre-order months ago. Either way, you’re the sucker in this parasite game.

Wario

The squeaky clean Nintendo, who I love, have kept as far away from this model for years, but they’ve also succumbed to the pressure. Pressure? Well yes, you and I are pressuring them to change their way of doing business. We’re the ones making those filthy corporations richer than what they already are and Nintendo, though they’ve held out as long as they can, wants a piece of the action. Guess what? You can now pay for Mario Kart 8 DLC for the first time ever and buy their Amiibos, which really are physical DLC figurines (I’ll be a massive part of that problem). However, it’s definitely a more appealing form of DLC than the virtual stuff that will be useless once the servers go down. At least I’ll still have a figurine to show for my money right? You see, there I go. I lunged for the carrot and they’ve reeled me in hook line and sinker.

Unfortunately the snowball is now so big that it’s unstoppable. We can stop buying all these extras in advance or after the release of the game, but it would take a global effort for it to vaguely stir up a movement. The biggest market still lies with the more casual gamer and they don’t have a clue or care what’s going on in the industry. As long as they can grab their annual game of FIFA and Call of Duty they’re happy. Is it a fight we’re losing? Sadly, I think it is and it’s no ones fault but our own. On that shitty news I present to you the below video that makes no sense, but at least you did not have to pre-order, pay for microtransactions or DLC to view it. Think of it as a free unlockable to my mumblings.

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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