State of the Gamer World

by Joel Fernandez

Our fellow gamers. We have come to a point in our beloved pastime where it has become big business. The video game industry has grown in such a way that publishers stand to make billions of dollars off of handful of triple A titles. But as fun as it is to momentarily recapture our sense of wonder from years past, it is a business. As the years go by, the ever encroaching corporate culture is becoming more and more noticeable. Today’s discussion will be about why some things should change, while others should stay the same.

Let’s start off by tackling the elephant in the room, micro-transactions. Something that used to be reserved for mobile games and MMO’s, micro-transactions have incrementally made their way into full priced triple A games. We’ll explain, just in case we have any non-gamers reading this. Micro-transactions are the reason that some MMO (massive multi-player online) games and the majority of mobile games are free-to-play. Because often times there is more money to be made on the micro-transactions than on the price of the game as a whole. Conversely, that is precisely why many elder statesmen gamers feel that micro-transactions in full-priced triple A games constitutes corporate overreach.

In order to understand the increasing prevalence of micro-transactions, we have to acknowledge a few facts about human nature. Specifically, the fact that that the intelligent will always try to out-think the seemingly less intelligent. If you understand this principle, the micro-transaction implementation in modern games will come as less of a shock. The truth is, publishers stand to make billions of dollars every year on micro-transactions alone. To that end, the micro-transactions will continue to encroach on single-player triple A games insofar as it remains irresistibly lucrative.

The next order of business, DLC(down-loadable content). After being virtually nonexistent during the 6th generation(consoles), DLC has gone from rarity to norm in a few short years. It is, for all intents and purposes, a way to make the games more expensive. Publishers will cite the growing cost of development as the reason for the extra paid content that should arguably be part of the game in the first place.

This is yet another example of the intelligent trying to find a way to out-think the seemingly less intelligent. By citing the growing cost of development, the upper management is trying to imply that the video game industry is exempt from having to adjust for inflation. As the notion defies plausibility, it’s safe to say that the rising tide raises all ships. Or in this case, all industries. Simply put, the cost of development can only increase if the value of the games increases first. To present the inverse as a means to excuse corporate greed should be labeled as intellectual dishonesty.

It would be unreasonable to expect corporate characters to remove an aspect of their business simply because some veteran gamers feel compelled to resist change. The micro-transaction and DLC era will continue for as long as a significant amount of gamers continue to buy extra in-game content with real money. We can only compel them to change by ignoring full-priced games that cross the thin line between profitable and exploitative.

We need not fear the extinction of linear single player games because the majority of gamers prefer to maintain the balance between keeping the game world to themselves and sharing it with others. Ironically, the desire to keep games the way they have always been in order to make sure that they stay affordable is indicative of the impulsiveness that drives micro-transaction profits to obscenely high levels. Because if the price of games bothers you, waiting a year will cut the price by at least 50%. Then again, some gamers are more patient than others.

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