Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is finally out, but it seems we can’t ever have a major release – even a fantastic one – without some controversy overshadowing things. The grim news this time? Eidos Montreal’s otherwise fantastic release has become yet another “AAA” game to go the fee-to-pay route.
Yesterday, news broke that Mankind Divided featured a lot of microtransactions. Despite totally covering this once before, I’d forgotten about them by the time I played the game, mostly because they’re confined to Breach, an additional gameplay mode that is dull as hell and didn’t interest me in the slightest.
Breach is an extrapolation of the story campaign’s most boring sequence – a series of stark, mostly monochrome “virtual reality” maps in which cyberpunk hackers run around downloading data before escaping the level with their earnings. It’s a rubbish mode, quite frankly, and not worth your time.
It’s certainly not worth your money.
It is something I definitely should not have dismissed so readily, however, given the fact that Breach is every free-to-play trope shoved into a $60 product.
Even Breach’s tutorial is set up like a free-to-play game, giving you “free” booster packs and PRAXIS kits that you’re forced to used immediately, more concerned with explaining how purchasable cards and items work than how to play the game itself. I’ve tried many free-to-play games on mobile, and they almost always start this way.
Deus Ex even does the classic “dual currencies” thing. You have regular credits, which are earned liberally during play as the worthless bullshit money, and you have chips – the premium currency that actually gets shit done.
The whole thing’s structured like a two-bit mobile game rather than a worthwhile online component to a major premium release.
Fortunately, these microtransactions don’t infect the main reason anybody is buying a Deus Ex game. The single-player mode isn’t hawking anything at you, at least it wasn’t during my 30+ hours of playtime, and hasn’t sold out its dignity like Dead Space 3 did when it shoehorned a whole new economy into the experience.
Still, Square Enix’s indomitable avarice is on display once again, and it’s a really bad look. It’s insulting to see fourteen additional purchase options the moment you’ve just spent $60 on a game – especially when most of those options are designed to be bought multiples of times.
Starting small, you can buy 1,000 credits for $0.99 and work your way up the price chain until you’re dishing out $29.99 – basically half the the cost of the game itself – for a chipset pack.
One weird note – unless my eyes deceive me, the microtransactions are more expensive on Xbox One. The 500 chip pack flogs XBO users for $39.95 as opposed to $29.99.
The same is true for a lot of the prices. 1,000 credits is $0.99 on PS4, but $1.40 on Xbox One. It can’t be tax considering the huge markup.
I’m assuming that’s a pricing error on the part of the Xbox One version, though it’s been unchanged since yesterday. After checking and double checking, these look to be the exact same packs at significantly different prices.
This is the way of things, naturally. The eighth console generation started strong on the microtransaction front, showcasing an industry determined to naturalize fee-to-pay elements and bore us with their inclusion enough to where nobody cares to protest.
The saturation has indeed worked, too. Each new game that utilizes microtransactions causes less and less of a stir. Game journalists half-heartedly report on them at best, outright blast anybody complaining about them on social media at worst. The Reddit thread on this issue is full of people aggressively apathetic about it – not just uncaring, but combatively critical of those who do care.
The language around microtransactions has changed – executives creepily call more substantial DLC “macrotransactions” as if to imply fee-to-pay has always been around. They’re being spun as favors, something provided to “make fans happy” and “customize” the way we play. The banality of bullshit is in play – enough games have pulled these stunts now that it’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t being pulled.
We’ve always been at war with Eurasia, after all.
The good news, of course, is that only Breach has been negatively affected, and Breach is negativity incarnate to begin with. Hell, I can’t even play Breach right now. As of this morning, it keeps crashing during startup and I’m not particularly sad about it.
Sadly, however, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is yet another superb game I’ll no longer be considering for awards when GOTY season rolls around. Due to my long-standing policy of not awarding fee-to-pay games of any stripe, it’s instantly disqualified from any additional honorifics, though I do not regret the score I gave it – that was based on the excellent single-player material.
You may ask why I wouldn’t consider Mankind Divided for awards when I don’t regret the score, and I have a very simple answer for you – because fuck microtransactions in $60 game, whatever form they take.
Fuck them hard. Fuck them to the Moon. Fuck them with a big shiny augmented penis.
Something something I didn’t ask for this something something memes.