I don't usually get into the fray when there's a controversy involving video games. And I'm still cautiously on the fringe of what I'm about to touch on, mainly because when it comes to people on either side of a video game related argument chances are good that either side has an attitude that would make a sailor cringe. Gamergate introduced me to some pretty disgusting people on either side of the debate.
Video games are like wine, even the terrible ones have a following. As technology evolved, certain aesthetics were discovered as being conducive to making people who play video games want to spend more money on them. Dare I, a very proud and staunch capitalist, suggest that there are moral limits to when a company should stop making as much money as they possibly can and by doing so afford concern toward addicts of their brand. Pretty much what I'm doing here is going against the grain of my fiscal ethics and rant about a particular genre of video game.
Freemium games. These things are horrible, and are also insanely lucrative.
Freemium games wouldn't exist if video games hadn't been built previously on a principal of ultimate achievement. You hack through an impossibly hard game like Ninja Gaiden and end up with an Engrish sounding "You are winner!" and thus have years of bragging rights among your peers at school. Imagine if one of those lowly friends of yours had a few bucks to spend while at that crucial moment in the final level and could invest that money into the game to not have to waste another week trying in vain to be as good as you. They'd probably go for it.
For people who play video games; video games make us feel good, and they make us feel great when we are known as the best at them. At times we'll pretend as though it's not such a big deal, because having reflexes as awesome as ours make it child's play that a particular challenge was bested while it keeps several million other players blocked from discovering more content. Trust me; for all gamers the ultimate prize is being known among your peers that they cannot beat you.
In video games, if someone says "you cheated, blah blah blah" after you defeated them, they just sound like a poor loser to other gamers or a complete loser to those who don't play video games and wonder why a source of pride could be derived from them. Freemium games with an option for players to play against each other prominently feature a ranking system, that provides a worldwide perspective on who is the best at the game. Notice that there is no such thing as a freemium game that has a worldwide system that differentiates those who paid real money for an advantage. By not stigmatizing those who essentially bought their status, these games tap-dance around the idea that you have to pay up to be the best.
I'm guilty of putting real money toward a freemium game for the sake of easing the challenge of that game slightly by having a more powerful avatar. I would say, at the most, I've invested $10 in a game similar to the old 1942 game that I honestly never even play anymore. I might take pride in the fact that I haven't spent a lot of my hard earned cash on these games, but then I think about how many more weak willed people might have had the same attitude and thus it rained virtually-endless amounts of $10 bills for that company.
I'm offended by the marketing practice, not because it's an unfair way to achieve status in a pretend world, but because it's literally an investment in nothing. These games are minimal in what they offer in terms of graphics and plot, and their updates are typically just a means of spending more money on them. The WWE currently has four freemium games that I know of. I've played them all, and they're all cheap garbage. If you paid five thousand dollars on any one of these games, you would find yourself only slightly closer to the status of an addicted whale who has collectively spent ten times that amount on their addiction. Spending money on these games gets you nowhere, and does nothing to encourage the developers to honor you in some way. If you want status, you have to spend more than everybody else.
Time is currency. I have a few friends who religiously play games like Clash of Clans or Game of War, and they are completely oblivious to the concept that their time is worth money. When you're bored and want to kill some time, a video game is a fun alternative to reading a book on carpentry. When you have responsibilities and thus have a mountain of tasks that need to be completed, a video game is an unhealthy means of procrastination. If you really want to spend your money on a freemium game, it's your money. I find it startling that so many people don't even consider their time to be worth anything. Most freemium games employ a concept of having a timer setup to prevent constant upgrading or limit an amount of attempts at a challenge. My friends will literally be checking the time every minute just so that they can pounce back onto their phone and play their game some more. If you're a wealthy businessman who needs a vice to replace a more unhealthy addiction and can afford blowing through $500 every time they play a game, that's fine. I ask that people consider the amount of time they spend tapping away at their game, and consider just how much actual progress was made within the game in the weeks that they spent playing.
The most egregious example of this concept is the concept of loot crates. I cannot play any game that employs or casually permits this marketing concept, thus I'm saying that I've quit all MMORPGs. Beyond loot crates, I'm as offended at the notion of entire markets being in place that trade real money for in game content. I even feel this way toward life simulators, where if you dig deep enough you'll realize that people only participate in them for sexual content. It's worse in these examples, because you're essentially paying a fee on top of a fee. Most of these games can't be played for free, you have to buy them or pay a monthly fee to experience them. These games can't technically be called "freemium" because they're not even free. When the experience isn't fulfilling enough, instead of quitting the stupid game and doing something more fun and less costly, there are people who will invest so much money into these games that they're stuck with a sunk costs fallacy if they ever think about deleting the game. That game is all they have to show for their efforts that earned that money.
I wish that this was a problem like Bitcoin or the housing crisis where eventually interest would wane and profits would plummet. Freemium games are a totally different beast. If a game loses popularity, a new one is made and some of those who found the strength to leave the old one are now tempted to begin an entirely new experience and potentially get a head start on anyone else who might get on board. I don't think that mankind will ever evolve to recognize that there should be a spending limit regarding our own petty indulgences.
We're going through a bit of a virtual revolution. It's not catching on with everyone, thankfully. We love to immerse ourselves in some kind of online persona, whether it be a Twitter handle with tens of thousands of followers who like every stupid thing that you post, or being an obscure curmudgeon named enviousdominous on the WrestleZone forums. For some, their choice in an online persona is that of the top player in Game of War. I personally think that it's horrible that people are charged money for what amounts to moving a little faster on a road to nowhere, and that games that employ that concept are shameless about advertising that their game is more addicting than the rest.
I won't tell someone what their definition of fun should be. For some people, spending money on anything is more fun than anything else. For some people, being lured into an unhealthy spending habit which offers literally nothing in return when they hardly have the financial means to support the habit is more fun than anything else. I consider someone's idea of fun to be a delusion when they're only playing the game to cope with what they've become, an addict.
I grew up on video games, prowrestling, and Pink Floyd. Video games for me should be something that you play for fun, maybe for bragging rights, but ultimately something where if you put it away and never played it again you wouldn't be out any more money than your original investment of $59.99.
And almost immediately, posts on various groups from "team owners" came into being using words like "grinders", "proof needed", "must co-ordinate battle" and the worst one? "We get the event card in 3 hours?". Basically these losers who play a freemium game their whole life, cos they don't work, or seem to do anything else now expect others to do as they do and act like bosses... literally like the team is a job. Suddenly anyone who doesn't quite measure up was a "freeloader" and it killed the game for me.
I DID find a good team, but even then it was too onerous...and it soured the game, and others like it for me.
To be fair, the model of grinding is a big problem for me in games... it's pointless and kills the fun. Something like Elite Dangerous was interesting but ended up endless small missions and grinding when I worked out again, the "community goals..." grinded one to a silly degree as it was easy, and ended up with enough money to buy and upgrade any ship... so stopped playing as the challenge was gone. It even made the WWE2K games now where you have to "grind" currency to buy shit, or pay double the price of the game.
DLC at times I don't mind... Fallout New Vegas was the pinnacle for me, where it was well thought out, added to the game each time and was worth paying for... Fallout 4, never bothered with...though I did for Farcry 4... but lo and behold, for 5 you need to spend more. It's getting stupid.
Personally, I think some games like the WWE2K ones should work like this.
Buy the game/engine for £15... it includes the basic match modes/game modes and 20 wrestlers, a couple of the "top names" that the E want to push, some dross like Rawley that no one is gonna by and a couple of tag teams... Then you select the rest of how the game works according to what you want... you want a retro only game with legends and oldschool graphics? that pack is £15, but there's no Cena, Reigns or the new guys and only retro matches/ring set ups etc... likewise, if you want the modern game you do the same...that too is £15 but doesn't include ANY legends...
Likewise you can go somewhere in the middle and do an Attitude Era pack... no-one after 2002 included or before 1997 and everything more "adult".
The key here is they get EVERYONE in the packs... so if you buy the Golden Era pack, everyone from Hillbilly Jim to George The Animal to One Man Gang to Savage and Warrior are in there and all the old tag teams.
Same for the Attitude, so the Mean Street Posse, Gangrel, Al Snow and even Brian Pillman are in there. The modern one, use NXT to bump up the numbers with guys like EC3, Ricochet and of course Ronda...
You can then have some DLC additionally that costs upto another £15, for move sets, exclusive character packs or the ability to have custom ring music, but the game still only costs you £75 tops to buy it all.
Most would spend the £75 eventually... you'd get bored playing endless Hogan era stuff when you can't do Elimination Chamber or TLC matches for example but the idea of having that retro version would appeal to many fans, likewise they'd want the Attitude pack.
The danger is that the modern pack would be the worst seller I guess.
To me, grinding is one of those concepts that these games subtly tries to discourage. That's a pretty obvious point, but I make it to elaborate more on the business model. If you're able to have a fulfilling experience not spending any money whatsoever, they lose. They all present you with initial challenges that you can easily obliterate with your awesome skill, and you'll level up on top of leveling up while earning what seems like more resources than you could possibly spend in a week. Close to the end of that period, they offer up an awesome deal where you can upgrade your stuff even more for the ridiculously low price of $1.99. If you spend that money, then it's obviously important to you that you have something to show for your investment. Then they start slashing prices, but only for a limited time as indicated by a ticking countdown clock, and offer you 1,000 of their premium currency for a 50% markdown of only $49.99. If you had stuck to grinding, you'd be going back to old challenges so you can complete them several hundred times over only so that you can be on par with the guy who happily threw away a weeks worth of groceries so that he could be better than you. Bottom line; to freemium develolpers, grinders are the enemy.
Fallout New Vegas had the greatest DLC of any game I've ever played. New Vegas was set apart from all the other Fallout games because of its DLC. Fallout 3's DLC was lame, and Fallout 4's DLC was pointless for me as I was playing on Survival.
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