A few days ago Cliff Blesinski wrote a blog entry basically supporting the business of microtransactions and EA. This was after EA announced they would be adding microtransactions to every game and acted as the last straw as fans lashed out against EA. Now a lot of what Blezinski said about the microtransactions was true, if we don’t like them we shouldn’t buy them and that to an extent games are cheaper now than they use to be if you take inflation into account.
With that being said Blezinski misses the point when it comes to DLC and microtransactions, because as consumers we are being screwed. We as video game consumers are not getting the full product anymore, this isn’t about paying for extra content, this is about EA and other companies removing content that should have been in the game already. Not only that, but Blezinski must not have read the article because it clearly states that these microtransactions might even be tied to getting to higher levels in the games:
“We’re building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be,”
If that isn’t screwing over consumers I don’t know what is, having to pay to get to the next level after you have already paid $59.99 plus tax for a game is heinous. You want to do free to play that is fine, but don’t charge me for content I am already paying for.
But it goes deeper than that, this is about EA and other gaming companies trying to make money in a business that is not a good revenue generating business. So we as consumers are the ones who have to pay the price for their incompetence. Oh I am sorry we didn’t realize how much it was going to cost to make an Xbox 360/PS3 game, so we are going to start having to charge you more money for content that would have normally been included in the game.
We as consumers are footing the bill because these gaming companies don’t know how to operate an economically sustainable gaming business. Microtransactions and DLC are not the cause of the problem; they are the symptom of companies who don’t know how to generate enough revenue to please board members. These are not our problems as consumers; we should in no way have to suffer because EA can’t figure out alternative methods of making more money (you know like making great games). Jim Sterling just earlier last month did a video on this issue and explained very well why the argument of “companies exist to make money” is a terrible argument; I recommend everyone check it out here.
Don’t get me wrong, microtransactions and DLC are not inherently evil, but the way EA and other companies like Capcom have implemented them are. I mean let us just look at the argument that games are “inherently” cheaper now than in the past. Mass Effect 3 is a great example, let’s start off on the assumption you paid full price for the game at $59.99. Ok now let’s add all the DLC to the equation the first piece was a day one DLC (cut content from the game) $9.99, Leviathan was the second piece $9.99, Omega $14.99, and finally the last piece of DLC Citadel $14.99. You add all that up and the full Mass Effect 3 game will run you approximately $110. Now normally do you need to buy all of this no, but for a game like Mass Effect 3 you probably should especially if you are a fan of the game. This is now the norm as opposed to the exception, we as consumers are buying half games for $59.99.
Now does that seem fair Mr. Blezinski? $110 for the full content of a game, and I was nice enough to not even include the multiplayer content that you could pay for. What about Capcom making players pay for the actual ending of the game in Asura’s Wrath, is that fair to consumers? Was there a big sticker on the back of the box telling me that to get the true ending of the game I would need to buy the DLC? What about putting content on the disc and then forcing people to unlock it through buying more DLC, is that fair?
And what about those average gamers you talk about who don’t care about these things? Go look at the most recent Madden ratings and comments on the Amazon site and tell me they don’t care. EA cut some content from the game that had been in previous games and people were not to happy.
You know what is funny is, I agree with Blezinski on some of the things he said in the article, these gaming companies are in it to make money. But like everything else in life there is a right and wrong way of going about doing things. I don’t hear a lot of people complaining about the DLC methods of Take Two and Bethesda. Probably because they create huge games that don’t require the DLC but are nice to have after you have beaten the game. But then again EA could only hope to create games on the level of Grand Theft Auto V, Borderlands II, Fallout 3 and Skyrim. Hell, look at Dishonored (non open world game with DLC scheduled), a game by all accounts should have failed, EA even came out and said that games like that are too risky. Guess what it succeeded commercially and financially not to mention there is DLC coming out for the game that people want and are not complaining about. Why because the game stood on its own two feet and doesn’t require the DLC but it is nice to have if you want it.