The DLC Dilemma: Why Micro-transactions and Dirty DLC Practices Are Hurting Video Games
Just recently, Infinity Ward announced their new title to the Call of Duty series; Infinite Warfare. Subsequently, they also announced that if you pay another twenty dollars for the legendary edition, you will receive a remastered version of Modern Warfare 4. More and more games today are now cut open and rearranged for DLC, pre-order bonuses, collector's edition, and micro-transactions. It has come to a point where games, which are part of a genre that shouldn't be based on a pay-to-win model, are starting to adopt it. Not only that, but the vast majority of consumers are constantly handing over more and more money for content they should have gotten on the disc. They are completely oblivious to the fact that they are being milked for every penny they have by the major corporations that own the games. Now, that is not to say that all DLC or micro-transactions are bad. But, more and more games are becoming chock-full of them, and it sometimes ruins the experience of the actual game. These greedy and blatantly malicious practices must stop if we want our beloved pastime to continue on for generations to come.
The Video Game Puzzle
With so many pre-order bonuses, collector's bonuses, and DLC, video games are becoming huge puzzles more than actual video games. Many developers and publishers are taking content right out of the game and reassigning it to different game stores to boost pre-order sales, or to get the extra twenty dollars out of you to get the "collector's" edition, which consists of content that should have already been in the game in the first place. If you pre-order the game at Gamestop, you get this character and level. But, if you come to Best Buy. you can receive a free skin pack and a new weapon. Some games are ruined because of these bonuses that never benefit anyone but the developers and the publishers.
If they're not making pre-order schemes, they are advertising for day one DLC. When Evolve first launched, it contained forty four different pieces of downloadable content. All together, the price of all of the pieces added up to over 136 dollars. Paying the price of a full game just for content in a game you already pay for is nothing but greedy, and there is no way to defend something as malicious as this. Sometimes, it's the publishers who make the authoritative decisions for DLC, not the developers. Activison and Electronic Arts are the two biggest culprits of this, putting DLC into their top franchises for more cash. Day one DLC has plagued many different games in the market, and while many hardcore fans are very much against this, developers and publishers still continue to implement it.
Even with the overall negative reaction of consumers and fans, developers still defend the practices. They usually make empty promises and rhetoric to create some kind of damage control. One can expect to hear things like, "If the player wants, he can support us to make more games later on," even though they already received sixty dollars or more from the consumer already. Or, they might say, "These are optional! You don't have to but them," as if the problem automatically goes away if it's optional. These practices need to halt very soon before video games deteriorate to the point where they aren't even games anymore.
Video Games Are Becoming Broken Casinos
If the DLC wasn't enough, developers and publishers will still try to milk the consumer dry by implementing micro-transactions into their games. However, they have become smart and intensified the micro-transactions in small steps, so most consumers don't realize what the big picture is. Some will even defend the micro-transactions, even if it steps over the line that the developers themselves drew multiple times.
It might start off small, like a few cosmetic items for a few dollars. The developers will promise their very loyal fan base that the micro-transactions will only be cosmetic. Soon enough, you have cosmetic items that give benefits, materials or in game currency, weapons that can give you an advantage, and even as much as full setups for your character that can only obtained through micro-transactions. Destiny started with cosmetic only micro-transactions, and very soon had "boost" packs, which helped new players level up their player and sub-classes quickly, with a hefty price tag of twenty-five dollars. This never ending cycle is atrocious and shouldn't have been an idea in the first place. However, companies aren't satisfied with just sixty dollars from the consumer, so they do everything they can to get just a little more money out of them.
A perfect example of this is supply drops from Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Supply drops were introduced in Advanced Warfare, but for a majority of the time, players couldn't buy supply drops with cash. Black Ops III used the same content, but already made a mistake; they allowed players to buy supply drops with real money. Then, they added a few weapons that could only be obtained by getting a supply crate. Players were in uproar over this malicious activity; how could Activision and Treyarch be this greedy? It only got horribly worse when someone used a fake story on the support line for Activision to confirm that a new subclass was going to be added to the game and, you guessed it, it could only be obtained in supply drops.
Some video games need to be structured around pay to win to even work, like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Online. Card games have always been pay to win, so the online versions need to be as well, or it wouldn't really be that genre But, this doesn't excuse other companies borrowing these practices and implementing them into their own game. Micro-transactions, whether with good intentions or not, are more often than not just a cash grab where developers can take every last penny for their consumer so they can line their own greedy pockets.
Are micro-transactions justifiable in video games?
Video games are special; they bring together people all over the world to take part in a fun pastime. However, companies are turning video games from "Who can get the highest score," to "Who can give the highest bid". They're dividing us, the consumers, just to get more money for themselves. You can't play with your friend because you don't have this, or you can't win against him because he has that. This weapon can only be bought with real money, and the weapon is the most powerful weapon in the entire game. These dirty practices, whether with DLC or micro-transactions, are hurting the gaming industry as a whole, and will inevitably change for the worse if this keeps up.
While there has been a recent growth in uproar by hardcore fans and casual gamers alike, some developers and publishers aren't listening to your rants. They think they can get away with putting in more micro-transactions than there are people who play the actual game. The only solution to this is to push back harder against these practices. We, as people who love our pastime playing video games, must push them back harder and harder. They aren't going to stop, and will only push harder for more pre-order bonuses and more micro-transactions. For the video game pastime to survive, these practices must stop.