Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Cliffy B. Speaks Out Over Microtransactions - "You vote with your dollars."

I'd make a Gears of War reference here, but I don't actually know all that much about the game, so you'll just have to imagine something inane.

I'm pretty sure that if you were reading this blog last week you pretty much know my reaction to both the presence of microtransactions in Dead Space 3, as well as EA's pledge that such systems will be implemented in pretty much all their games from now on. If you didn't here's the cliff's notes: fuck that shit.

Of course, there are two sides to every argument and viewpoint; while a lot of games, myself included obviously, are angry over such things, people in the industry while not all of the same mind have their own stance on them. Even though he's stepped away from creating games for the moment, designer Cliff Bleszinski, better known as Cliffy B made a blog post a couple days ago chronicling his reaction to this whole thing.

Now, I'm definitely not agreeing with him on all his points, but I think that he does bring up one very good one that I have absolutely no qualms with: "You vote with your dollars." Whether you like Cliffy or think he's way too outspoken, whether you agree with him or think that he's way off the mark on this issue, if there's one thing you should take away from any discussions about this is that simple sentence. The only reason that microtransactions exist in any form is because people do buy them. Now, whether or not EA is embellishing when they say that people have enjoyed them in Dead Space 3 is a completely different story for a different time. However, I would go so far as to say that, if you don't want microtransactions in certain games, then don't buy those games when they have microtransactions.

Now that that's out of the way though, I have to turn my attention to some of the other things that Cliff said; things that I don't really agree with.

"I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as “the bad guy.” I think it’s bullshit that EA has the “scumbag EA” memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong."

Cliff attributes the way that these companies are looked at to image control. I think that may be a part of it, certainly, but when you try to compare Dead Space 3 to Team Fortress 2, the comparison just isn't a good one. They both have microtransactions, I'll give you that much, but consider this: Team Fortress 2 was either sold as part of a bundle with The Orange Box, or for maybe about twenty dollars at most and often on sale for closer to five. This was before, long before, microtransactions even became part of the TF2 universe.

Dead Space 3 on the other hand, had a full price tag, most of the microtransactions add at least three to five dollars. Now, I don't give TF2 a pass on this either, I think that most of the stuff in the Mann Co. Store is overpriced, which is why I don't even bother looking for most of it. The drop system is good enough, and certainly when the resource farming in Dead Space 3 was proven to be a feature and not a bug that would be immediately patched, most people found it good enough as well.

That doesn't change the fact that one game is cheap as dirt and years old AND now free to play, and the other is a friggin' AAA title that's asking you to fork over dollars for better stuff faster.

There's one thing I saw Cliff mention though, one thing that really rubs me the wrong way:

"Your average guy that buys just Madden and GTA every year doesn’t know, nor does he care. He has no problem throwing a few bucks more at a game because, hey, why not?"

No. It's not hey, why not, it's because these people are the ones that are ignorant. I don't mean that as a slight, I mean that these people are literally ignorant of why they're effectively being ripped off. It's probably these people that convince companies that putting microtransactions in full priced games is viable to begin with, and they're also the ones that ultimately pay the most ... in more ways than one.

I've been a gamer nearly all my life, so when I see something like this, I know that it's not resonant on a very deep level. Someone just starting out though, or someone too young to recognize what's going on or just sitting at the outskirts of the culture, only picking up titles once in a while, some of them see something like microtransactions and go "well, that's odd, but I guess if I have to I have to", not knowing that they can play the game and get the same experiences without that investment.

Perhaps I am overgeneralizing, but then again, so is Cliff. I think that perhaps at least I realize that I'm doing so. Of course not every gamer, even ones that only play a handful of games, is going to do something like that. But the ones that do only really add fuel to the fire of a really terrible idea.

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