A lot of bullshit happens in the game industry and I get inundated with references to this bullshit whenever it does. People want to see a new Jimquisition video every time the latest “AAA” game has microtransactions or some garbage downloadable content.
The main problem is, my video series often already has episodes that apply entirely to whatever new scandal has occurred, meaning all I’d end up doing would be rewording a prior video with some names changes.
However, it IS important to call this trash out whenever it happens. Since I no longer post on a news blog, I thought it’d be fun to do a semi-regular feature that collects the latest nonsense from major publishers and presents them with scorn. I may be beating the proverbial dead horse every time I do one, but I say the horse is alive as long as companies continue acting like cocks.
Please enjoy our latest editorial adventure, The Bullshit Roundup!
Rise of the Tomb Raider to get microtransactions…
Microtransactions in so-called AAA games are nothing new, but the idea of them coming to a single-player focused game like Rise of the Tomb Raider is delectable example of just how prevalent the “fee to pay” concept has become. Yes, Square Enix is ramming freemium elements into its Tomb Raider sequel, allowing players the privilege to give it more money after already giving it some money.
Rise will try to flog users “Expedition Cards” used to craft in-game challenges for online play. These cards may be earned in-game, but if you want to avoid grinding for them, Square Enix has everso kindly granted us the ability to buy them for real-world cash. Full details have yet to be revealed, but I’m sure it’ll be a load of old bollocks.
This is, sadly, nothing new for the rebooted Tomb Raider series. The original game had $1 purchase options that let players upgrade Lara Croft’s abilities, as well as offer items for the game’s totally unwarranted online multiplayer mode. The fact it’s not new, however, does absolutely nothing to make it acceptable.
If you pay for a premium game, you should get a premium experience. Free-to-play elements have NO place in a $60 retail experience.
Especially a $60 retail experience that already has $30 DLC lined up.
Oh, and a $90 “deluxe” version of the game.
Really, Square Enix, will there ever be a point where you feel like you’ve fleeced enough money out of people?
Halo 5 gets microtransactions, developer attempts to defend them…
Halo 5: Guardians will be jumping aboard the bloodsucking train with some microtransactions of its own. As with all of these psychologically manipulative little schemes, the freemium elements can be earned in-game, making them nominally “optional” even though there’s no such thing as an optional fee-to-pay experience.
Microtransactions aren’t optional – they are always designed to be bought because no business creates a product it doesn’t want to sell. Hence, gameplay is always affected somehow, even if you never buy them. Something is done to try and tempt you, because that’s how freemium elements work.
Say it with me – even if you never make a single microtransactions, its presence in the game is never optional.
Halo 5 will sell “REQ” packs to its users. The REQ system is a series of rewards that players can unlock and use in online matches, but of course you can give Microsoft some cash in exchange for earlier unlocks. The silver REQ pack costs $2, while the gold one costs $3.
Kevin Franklin from 343 Industries defended the scheme in an interview with GameSpot, stressing the “optional” nature of the microtransactions.
“There’s no crazy special items that are only going to be reserved for people who spend a lot more money,” he claimed. “Also, you get a lot of rewards whether you’re playing Arena or Warzone, so you’re always going to have a ton of stuff that you’ll be able to use. The biggest thing for us the moment we started even talking about this system was that the game has to be balanced. At the end of the day, it’s a multiplayer game. It’s not a spend-more-to-win game. We wanted to make sure that if you spend a whole ton of money, and you thought you could get five Scorpions just because you spent more money, it’s not going to work. You’re still going to have to earn the right to call these Scorpions into the battlefield.”
We’ve heard this song-and-dance before, and it always undermines the very notion of fee-to-pay games. If your big selling point, your major justification, for using microtransactions is, “You don’t have to buy them,” then why the FUCK are you selling it? No company ever gets around to telling us why these microtransactions are GOOD. They always have to DEFEND them.
It says a lot that “no in-game purchases” has become a selling point in a lot of modern games.
If you’re constantly defending something every time you do it, without ever proving the merit of it, maybe you’ve done something fucking indefensible.
Star Wars: Battlefield… I mean, Battlefront, has a $50 season pass…
I need to remake the old Escapist episode I produced about season passes, but here’s the short story – they’re almost always a bad idea. They require you trusting AAA publishers – companies that have proven their untrustworthy nature dozens of times.
This is especially true of Electronic Arts, a company that has broken more promises than it has game studios.
Star Wars: Battlefront will be the latest game to have a season pass, and to get it alongside the game requires you almost paying double the price for a regular retail release. $50 will get you four planned expansion packs, as well as a two-week headstart on those expansions over anybody who opts to purchase them separately. You can pre-order the season pass right now, because the videogame industry is fucking ridiculous.
Given that we have all this content planned post-launch, and given that the base game looks like it’ll be somewhat lacking, we’re essentially looking at a game demanding $110 for the full experience.
You know, it’s funny – people often defend this shit by telling me that “games have to make their money back somehow,” but it always seems to be the safest bets, the games most guaranteed to make a ton of profit, that pull the slimiest moves. Do we really think a Star Wars game – one set to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens, no less – will struggle to make its money back? It’s cocking STAR WARS.
Let’s be honest – this season pass does not exist because EA needs it to. It exists because it can get away with it. It exists because enough of us will fork that cash over gladly, throwing an investment atop an investment in pure blind faith. THAT is why Star Wars: Battlefront costs $110 for the full experience – because it’s Star Wars: Battlefront, and because it fucking can.
That is really the long and short of all these stories. It’s not about “need,” it’s about “want” and it’s about “we can do this.” The games that actually need extra ways to make money never have gauche DLC practices or microtransactions, because nobody would stand for it. They’re in the big name games, the top-tier titles, the ones that never needed to make their money back in the first place.
Because they can.
Simply because they can.