How did we come to this point as a people? How did we get here? It’s time for a “back in my day” . . .
When I was a young man, there were no pre-orders. At best, you could put something on lawaway, but that was primarily big things. You just had to have the money when it came out, because there were, generally speaking, always enough copies of a game. You know, like E.T. It had enough copies, right? There was no fear of not being able to get a game due to scarcity or shady practices. I’m more than old enough to remember those days. Back when you could just go to the store and buy a game, provided you had enough money for it (or you begged your parents for a Hanukkah gift, in my case). And the games were finished! They were complete! All of the content was there, but sometimes it was hidden. Mortal Kombat 2 had hidden fights if you could figure out exactly how to get to them. It was a mystery and there was almost no Internet to give you a hand! You couldn’t just Gamefaqs it.
There was no “Season Passes”, no DLC but admittedly, there was no way to do that! The only games that really got updates were arcade cabinets, and even then it was pretty sparingly. And even those, they had to send a team out to update them, they weren’t hooked up to the Internet. So when a game went out, you were pretty sure that it was the complete game! If they left something out or weren’t happy, what was the result? A new game! I remember the first game to see constant updates/revisions, outside of sports games. It was Street Fighter II. Almost no one I knew had played the original (Street Fighter, or Fighting Street on the Turbo Grafix 16) but it received numerous updates and reworks. Turbo, Champion Edition, Hyper Fighting, The New Challengers, Super Turbo, these were all editions of Street Fighter II. Of one game. And for each version, did people buy them? Of course, they did. You want to play fighting games at a competitive level, you have to keep up with this. Maybe this was the truly the beginning of this habit. Game companies started to realize just how powerful an update was.It was a slippery slope for us. Sure, an argument could be made that “those games weren’t really complete, lots of content was on the cutting room floor”, or “with improved technologies, more content can come for a game at a later date without creating a whole new game/sequel”. Is that a fair assessment? Of course, it is. The problem is when companies gate content behind a pre-order, or create content and gate it behind DLC. Content that could have been in the goddamn game already was left out purely for greedy purposes. And sure, games have been 60 bucks for a long time and the cost of making games has gone up. That’s not a question. But when you go Gamestop’s route, and have a Bonus Mission, a Mission that’s probably in the game code that you can only acquire if you pre-order the game at Gamestop! That is one of the most predatory things I’ve seen from a company this year. It’s not the worst, but it’s surely horrible. It’s greedy, it’s predatory.
This is a AAA Game, Assassin’s Creed: Origins. They don’t have to worry about “Will people buy it?” because it’s Assassin’s Creed! I could go on my Facebook, right now and ask who is buying it. I know a handful who not only did but a few who preordered the Collector’s Edition! I don’t mind limited editions of games so much. The ones that have awesome collectible stuff that hardcore fans are going to want to own. Fine, sure. I draw the line when it comes with content that regular folks can’t have right away/will have to pay for. Making people wait to play content if they didn’t preorder it is repugnant. Worse still if they never get to play a bonus mission simply because they didn’t go to Gamestop! Season Passes are pretty damn predatory too, but they aren’t even the biggest thing this year that’s upset me. I have not gotten used to them, because I think they’re vile and unfair. They already bought your game! They already own it! Why should someone have to shell out more than 100 bucks for a single game? And that’s the cheapest! There are games where people would probably have to dole out 120-200 bucks for a single damn game and all its DLC. The greediest, the worst is Middle Earth: Shadow of War.
I’ve been keeping up with how other companies have been talking about it, if they’re even mentioning the Lootboxes, and how scummy of a practice it is. How depraved and vile it is. You know what serious games journalists are saying? That “you should just not buy them, they aren’t a big deal, nor are they useful”. Are you serious? You know how you stop lootboxes in a paid game? By not purchasing the game! It’s repulsive that they want to create an infinite amount of money by preying on people who now “have the option to buy lootboxes”. Fun fact about me: I don’t have a gambling problem, but I do LOVE getting cool skins/cosmetics for games I play. For F2P games, I don’t mind this one bit. Overwatch was a game I purchased with real money. Every time a new set of skins would come out, I’d spend 20 bucks or so on lootboxes, to try and get the one skin I wanted. Sure, I could just “level”, but if it’s a temporary, limited-time event? I want them, and I don’t want to miss out! Did I get some of them? I did.
But now I don’t play Overwatch anymore. I know that compulsion’s there, that I’d want to them but that’s just not a healthy attitude. So, I can’t play Overwatch anymore. Luckily, there is a class-based shooter I can play that’s fun, that’s free, and my friends will play with me. But Shadow of War didn’t just “add lootboxes to a 60 dollar game”, no no no. In addition, the True Ending can be expedited through lootboxes! You want to see the “True Ending”? Better get to spending, unless you want to grind! Noone that I saw was asking “Will these lootboxes give an advantage in PVP?” I just … I want to know how we got here. The first DLC that I honestly recall was on the Sega Dreamcast. Me and my roommate had a dial-up Modem and a Dreamcast and could get their DLC that way. DLC is a way of pulling content from a game and making people pay more, and there are times when I can put that aside and spend on it for a game I truly love … therein I think, lies the problem. Is there a time when DLC is okay? Is there a time when pre-orders are okay? Pre-order crap is why I stopped doing it. I buy almost all of my games digitally, when they come out. Maybe the day before, because I know whenever I’m ready, I can just… have it.
What’s your least favorite greedy event this year? NES Classic/SNES Classic? Shadow of War? I’d love to hear about it!