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Why Microtransactions Will Kill the Game Industry
Posted on Monday, July 1 2013 @ 11:21:07 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


You install your favorite MMO, sign-up, boot it up, create a character, and after about level 10 you start to realize that all this grinding is getting pretty damn boring. So what do you do? Probably just uninstall it. But no, developers have this thing called microtransactions where you can just buy more XP! Sure, great, why not?! But wait, $50 for enough XP just to get 2 levels? At least I can partake in new quests, then I'll be okay! Most gamers would stop there, but some will carry on and spend that $50 instead of going out and buying a good game for the same price.

It's not just MMOs, but it runs like the plague in mobile games which is where they started. Many offenders like Candy Crush, Rage of Bahamut, Dark Meadow, Infinity Blade II, and many other "free-to-play" or low-priced mobile games have this. You may pay $7 for a mobile game, but can buy armor, gold, weapons, and other items optionally. I still find this sad and unorthodox. Charge me $15 for Infinity Blade II and get rid of all that crap. Charge me a $5 a month fee for Candy Crush and leave me be! Let me play this game! It's like the developers stand over your shoulder and tell you what you can and can't do. Why spend $10 on a virtual card pack when I can buy DLC for a much better game like Fallout: New Vegas? 

One particular MMO had me peeved and that game is Scarlet Blade. The allure of scantily clad women in an MMO gets the 12-year-old boy's pants all tight and they secretly install it. There's a special item called the Lingerie Remover, but it costs $20. You can try winning it during your hourly prize chest, or get it as a rare loot drop, but only from certain bosses. This is the single reason why most people play Scarlet Blade, to get that oh-so-secret Lingerie Remover. Once you do this your character can run around completely nude, but then what? Is that really worth $20? Instead I can take that and buy two amazing indie games like Limbo, Braid, Fez, Hotline Miami, or several excellent mobile games. This is taking advantage of people's impulses they can't control. I never would have dreamed this would leak into the gaming industry.

Now, I understand developers and publishers need to make money; that's the only reason why anything exists, for money. However, you can try making your game good. By making less than stellar games and charging out the ass for everything—that's not the answer. Some people may say that you can get through a whole game without buying anything like Dead Space 3, then it's fine. However, they are still taking advantage of the impatient and that's greed. Nothing but sick, twisted, demented greed. There are other ways to make more money off a game by making great DLC packs like Fallout, Call of Duty, and Gears of War. Spend $10 for a map pack for extra content, and it's completely optional. You're getting value and more gameplay for your favorite game. I don't want to spend $100 on 10,000 pieces of gold so I can buy a sword to beat the next boss without it taking months and weeks otherwise. See the difference?



One person who would probably take a bullet for microtransactions is Cliff Bleszinski. He's the maker of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. Great developer, a genius, and I used to have a lot of respect for him. But after his outright foaming at the mouth outbursts about supporting used game fees and microtransactions, I lost all respect for him: More studios WILL close and you’ll see more PC and mobile games.

I have seen the number of unique gamer tags vs actual sales numbers and it ain’t pretty.

At the end of the day many hardcore dislike what was attempted. You can’t do well in that space with many of your core unhappy… Especially when users have a choice. The nature of capitalism encourages competition and Sony played into that.

Brace yourselves. More tacked on multiplayer and DLC are coming.

You’re also about to see available microtransactions skyrocket. HATS FOR EVERYONE.

I want *developers* who worked their asses off to see money on every copy of their game that is sold instead of Gamestop. Fuck me, right?

*Sony* forced Microsoft’s hand, not the internet whining.

You’re going to see digital versions of your favorite games with added “features” and content to lure you to digital over disc based.

I find it funny how people are saying that I “lost” when I don’t have a job or an allegiance now.

What I do have is 20 years of experience making games and seeing how the sausage is made.
These are direct quotes from his Twitter account after Microsoft changed their used game policy to having no fees. Guess what, Cliff? That stuff would have happened anyways because you forget, companies are greedy and want more and more, and they are never satisfied. We would still be paying $10 for a used game and still have microtrasactions in it with crappy multiplayer that no one wanted, and then that publisher would charge $10 for an online pass. Where does it stop? You can scream all you want about how microtranscations are the future and companies need money. I think you're forgetting about our perspective. We buy your games, and of course you want more of our money. How about making good games and we might give it to you? How about making quality content? Gamers aren't dumb, especially us hardcore guys.

Developers do see money for every copy sold, it's called "new games." But once we buy our copy, Cliff, it's ours. After that we can do whatever we want to it—crap on it, spit on it, sell it, use it as a coaster—because for some games, that's all they're worth. So should a TV company charge a fee to pawn shops and Craigslist when we sell it? They get less money than developers do! People only buy TVs once every 5 years or so. How about furniture? What if we donate our games to charity and some poor kid needs to pay $10 to play his game that he got for free? All because you guys can't come up with good enough ideas to make more money?
  How will they kill the game industry? Think about 10 years from now, you're playing Fallout 6 and you start talking to someone. Your conversation choice says you can try to convince the guy to give you something if your speech is high enough. You try, and fail, then an ad pops up saying "For just $1 you can increase your speech enough to win him over" or something like that. At that point these aren't games anymore, but interactive ads. Everyone complained about ad placement in sports games and Burnout years ago, but they were just on billboards, and honestly it didn't bother me.

Another example: You're playing Halo 8 about 8 years from now, probably the end of the Xbox One's lifecycle. Let's say Halo 8 is more open world like Borderlands. You get to a certain main missions and you realize you just can't beat the damn boss. You try buying the most powerful guns available to you and the best armor, but you just can't do it. Then you realize, "Wait a minute! There's that one shop on the other side of the map that sells better armor, I wasn't a high enough level yet, I'll go look." Your confidence is up, you have plenty of coins to buy something, then you realize it's greyed out because you need to use Spartan Coins which are bought with real-world cash. You throw the controller, turn your game off, and sell it GameStop. Or you can continue shooting up smaller bad guys and repeating the same missions for about two weeks to get enough Spartan Coins to buy it.

How's that option, Cliffy? How does that tickle your fancy? You don't have to play them so you couldn't care less. Maybe in the next Gears of War, we have to spend $5 to unlock the chainsaw on the bottom of our Lancer's. When you rev up the gun with B, an ad pops up that says, "Spend $5 now and get the chainsaw bayonet! Watch this trailer to see what you're missing out on!" I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you.

In the end, it has to stop somewhere. Either continue gouging us and exploiting the weak, or make quality content and charge a little more so more people will buy it. I had no problem throwing down $40 for both Skyrim DLCs. Not a second thought. I love Skyrim, it was a great game, and the DLCs had a lot of content. I do think about paying $5 for some coins to continue in a game that I couldn't care less about. Developers need to start asking themselves this question: Does our game have enough quality where gamers would buy stuff for it? If it's no, go back to the drawing board instead of forcing it down our throats. We don't want to buy the game industries puke and diarrhea just because a company wants a little more money.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick

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The Rise and Fall of the Rythm Genre
Posted on Wednesday, December 28 2011 @ 00:51:54 Eastern

I remember playing Guitar Hero for the first time on PS2 and being amazed at how accurate it felt to play the guitar. Rocking out to classics like Cowboys from Hell, Godzilla, Ziggy Stardust, and other classic rock songs was like a dream come true. Guitar Hero got me to play the real guitar and actually move on. The feeling of beating your high score on Expert and finally getting through Bark at the Moon on Expert was pulse pounding and so satisfying. Walking away from that song shaking with my heart pounding was how any game in general should make you feel.

Then Guitar Hero II came along at a reasonable time, and I knew it was time to start a new with a whole new set of songs. GH2 proved to be better with more awesome songs and a longer track list, plus the addition of DLC when it came to Xbox 360 so what could go wrong? Nothing at that point with Freebird being the end song and proving 10 times more difficult than Bark at the Moon I would need a-whole-nother six months to master this beast. But by the time I got around to that Guitar Hero III was announced with music companies on board and finally giving Harmonix the original songs so I thought nothing could get better. Not only this, but real rock stars were jumping on board with avatars in-game, plus a whole slew of great indie songs.

I felt like I couldn't keep up at this point because after mastering GH2 I finally got GH3 about 6 months after it's release. With the huge price points and the guitars now starting to constantly change I felt the genre was going in the wrong direction aiming toward money and forgetting about letting us breathe and master these games which is what rhythm games were all about. By the time I mastered GH3 a little game called Rock Band was out that added the whole band set and by now my head was spinning because not only did I have to master the guitar, but vocals and drums too? I also had two different band series to master, but I pressed on and picked up my copy about 8 months after release.

Rock Band proved to be the more solid game with a huge down pour of downloadable songs that Activision couldn't keep up with in Guitar Hero III so I stuck with the new guy. Being a natural at drums was something I found out with Rock Band so a few short weeks I was pounding out songs on Expert and Hard with ease while struggling with the weird design of the Rock Band guitar. By now Activision announces Guitar Hero IV and includes the same instrument, but I blew this off for a while.

While completely ignoring the band set I just pick up the game and use the Rock Band drums to realize that the series has gone completely downhill because of the weak song selection and weird design of the whole game. By now I sit at my drum set thinking the whole genre has spiraled out of control...but it's not done yet. Rock Band 2 comes out and I quickly jump on board feeling grateful that maybe EA has the right idea with RB2 being way better than the first, so by now I have abandoned all hope for Guitar Hero and continue on with RB2 for a couple of years. As the years go on I hear about several Guitar Hero off shoots for Aerosmith, Van Helen, and other weird things that help bring down the beloved series. Guitar Hero 5 comes out and resurrects the series with a solid come back to the original and leaving the other instruments as options. I finally have faith in the series and enjoy the decent song list. Rock Band finally comes out with a third entry that finally reaches the ultimate goal of the rock rhythm genre: To be able to use a real guitar in the game, but it's too little to late. With the addition of keyboards and added cymbals on the drums it feels like the series is just a ghost and fails sales wise while Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock comes along and completely goes crazy with a big finale for the series because both Activision and Harmonix drop their franchises due to the lack of interest in the series.

In the background Activision releases DJ Hero to luke warm acclaim while releasing a sequel, but countless hell spawns such as Rock Revolution and Band Hero continue to kill the genre while the terrible portable versions of these series continue to smear the genre's name in vain. At this point in time (2008) the genre is just everywhere with Lego Rock Band, Rock Band on PSP, iPhone, Guitar Hero on Java enabled mobile phones, but while the last of the fireworks are exploding no one is paying attention, and thus the series dies in later 2010.

With all that said and done developers need to learn a lesson that a genre needs to be left alone and approached with caution because you can kill it in a few short years. Will the glory days of the first couple of Guitar Heroes ever come again? Probably not, but in the mean time take that guitar or drum set from the closet, dust it off, and rock out to your favorite tunes because what is here is all that will be here. We are now in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the rhythm genre, so long live the king.



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