Micro-Transactions Everywhere!

Micro-Transactions Everywhere!

Introduction

Tonight is the night! You finally decide to treat yourself after a long and rough week of work. You recently got your paycheck, you’ve cashed it in, and you’ve now got some spending money to buy you a nice dinner. No microwaved ramen tonight, nope, you’re going to get a nice steak dinner from BLT Steak. You get there around 7 PM, grab yourself a seat, order your meal, and patiently wait for your food to come. Your mouth is watering as you continue waiting, tapping your feet in excitement. The thought of that sweet juicy taste makes your stomach rumble, and after a few minutes, there it is. A raw steak on your plate with no sides. Your body freezes, and you suddenly become confused. You turn to the waiter and ask him what’s going on. He looks at you saying, “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. You wanted your steak cooked?”. You look at him mind-boggled, “Of course I did!” you say to him. “Oh, well I’m afraid you’ll need to pay a $10 fee to cook it, and if you want the sides that come with the dish, that’ll be an extra $5 fee for each.”

Imagine that for a moment, a world of micro-transactions. No longer can you buy an entire car, or an entire house, an entire book. If you wish to get the full experience, you must pay small fees to get the rest of your product. This is a terrifying reality that we’re entering. Hell, we’re already there. With game after game now being released with micro-transactions. Full priced $60 games being given this unholy treatment. This greedy practice has been going on for decades. Since the digital age of gaming, and it’s getting worse every year. From Deus Ex Mankind Divided, to Destiny, to Halo 5, and now Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Let’s discuss this.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

The most infamous story out right now is Warner Bro’s inclusion of micro-transactions in the upcoming Middle-Earth Shadow of War. This feature will be included in the game’s Nemesis System. The system will allow players to purchase war chests that contains more orcs to help build their army, and even Training Orders, which can help level up their orcs and boost XP. Now, here’s the thing, I wouldn’t be so upset about this if it weren’t for one thing, this game is NOT an online game. Yep, it’s a single player, open-world, roleplaying game that has no option of playing online.

Not only that, but this game will also have the infamous two different in-game currencies. You know what I’m talking about, like how nearly all free-to-play mobile games have a gold currency and a diamond currency. This game will feature Mirian and Gold. Mirian you can earn through playing the game, and Gold you will most likely have to buy through different options like $0.99, $9.99, $49.99, and almost definitely $99.99. Which will probably be labeled as “Best Value!”. Warner Bros has published some great games in the past. Games like The Witcher 3, the Batman games, and even Mortal Kombat X. It’s a shame to see the company making greedy decisions like this.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

I might be wrong, but as far as I’m concerned, this is the patient zero when it comes to single player games being given micro-transactions. The game offered in-game currency packs ranging from 1,000 – 15,000 Credits. The prices range from $0.99 – $9.99. They also offer you Praxis Kit Packs, Chipsets for Breach, and Weapon Packs. These are just little packs that will help make life easier in the Campaign and Breach. Now, unlike most micro-transactions, these are one-time use. Meaning if already purchased a weapon pack and wanted to buy it again for another save, you couldn’t do it. Since you already bought it for your last play-through.

The one thing that made me happy about this though, was the fact that Eidos Montreal didn’t seem to like the idea of micro-transactions in their game. Knowing they couldn’t get rid of them, they did however make it easy for players to make it through the game without being tempted into buying them. The fault lies with Square Enix on this one. Though the game did come with micro-transactions, I’m just glad Eidos was able to make it fair for all players to play.

Call of Duty

There was no way in hell that I was going to miss this one. This franchise has become very infamous for their disgusting practices with micro-transactions. This ugly trend began back in Black Ops 2, when the game came out with different colored camos you could purchase from the in-game store. The prices for these ranged from $0.99 – $1.99. Not the greatest, but I was happy it was just cosmetics. Then things got crazy when the infamous Call of Duty Ghosts was released. You thought Black Ops 2 was bad? This game had skin packs, character packs, weapon packs, and even voice packs. There are more micro-transactions in this game than any other game I’ve seen. A grand total of 78 options to purchase. Wow.

However, that isn’t even the worst of it all. Advanced Warfare launches in 2014. The first Call of Duty game to officially feature a loot system. The dreaded Supply Drops are born. There are two kinds of Supply Drops in this game; Common and Rare. Common Drops come with three items and will only give you common items with the very slight chance of a rare item, and Rare Drops come with three items that will give rare and common items. The rarity of these items range from Common, Rare, Legendary, and Epic. This system has been with COD ever since. From Advanced Warfare, to Black Ops 3, to Infinite Warfare, and even to Modern Warfare Remastered. It’s just sad to see.

The Solution

Like I’ve stated before, the best way to stop these ugly practices from continuing is by completely refusing to purchase this content. If the entire gaming community stands up and demands the removal of micro-transactions in $60 games, then our voices will be heard, and the gaming industry just might change their minds. That’s the only way we can successfully put an end to this disgusting trend.

In Conclusion

There is a major difference between micro-transactions in $60 games versus micro-transactions in Free-To-Play games. Some Free-To-Play games need them in-order to keep their game alive. No MMO can continue to thrive without them. Some good examples are Warframe, Team Fortress 2, and World of Tanks. When you have them in a $60 game, that’s where I get angry. When I pay full price for a game, I expect to be getting the full game. Not bits and pieces that I have to unlock by paying for small extra fees. That’s insane.

It is our choice to decide whether or not micro-transactions in gaming is okay. Much like how it’s our choice to purchase these small fees. We don’t have to purchase these, at least until the game starts tempting us. If this trend doesn’t end, I fear that another Game Crash may come in the near future. Hopefully things will change soon.

Works Cite

  1. Osborn, Alex. “Middle-Earth: Shadow of War’s Nemesis System Will Have Microtransactions.” IGN, IGN, 5 Aug. 2017, http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/08/06/middle-earth-shadow-of-wars-nemesis-system-will-have-microtransactions.                   
  2. 24/08/2016, Wesley Yin-Poole Published. “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s Annoying Microtransactions in the Spotlight.” Eurogamer.net, Eurogamer, 24 Aug. 2016, http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-08-24-deus-ex-mankind-divideds-annoying-microtransactions-in-the-spotlight.
  3. Jacques, John. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Gets Microtransactions.” Game Rant, Game Rant, 14 Dec. 2016, gamerant.com/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-remastered-microtransactions-101/.                                                                                                           

 

 

Why Do We Ignore The Stories?

Why Do We Ignore The Stories?

Introduction

Since the 1970s, gaming has evolved. Games have become bigger and better than they’ve ever been. Going from 2-D to 3-D, from pixelated to high textured, and from arcade games to immersive games. We’ve seen masterpiece after masterpiece, disappointment after disappointment, but at the end of the day, we’re proud of how far gaming has come over the years. However, there is one small thing I’ve noticed with most games. Nearly all people seem to neglect or ignore the story. I do understand games “aren’t anything special and are just a form of entertain”, however, there are many titles that I’ve played where the story taught me something powerful.

With Modern Warfare’s message of how all it takes to change the course of history is the will of a single man, to Deus Ex’s message about corruption, and even Black Ops 2’s message of what do we do when the enemy steals the keys to our technology. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more games out there who have touched the lives of millions of gamers. The Walking Dead, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Borderlands, Half-Life, Portal, Kingdom Hearts, Fire Emblem, and even the Pokémon games all have something great about them, a great story, but there are people out there who just play them blindly.

Rarely do I hear people talking about the story of these games or the lore. It’s just something many people have lost interest into lately. One of the reasons why I think many games have been poorly developed lately. Not many people care about the story. They just want to play their game. So I ask the question, why?

Call of Duty

A franchise that’s been around since 2003. From a group of developers who brought you Medal of Honor Allied Assault, they branched off from Respawn Entertainment and created their own company known as Infinity Ward. When they developed the game, it blew up in popularity not only for it’s gameplay, but for it’s immersive story. It put you into the boots of Pvt. Martin for the Americans, Sgt. Evans for the British, and Cpl. Voronin for the Soviet Union. You play alongside squads of each allied nation in a battle against the Nazi Regime. You were put through Operation Overlord, the Invasion of Stalingrad, and the Fall of Berlin. From battle to battle, you bonded with the soldiers you fought with, getting to know their stories and characters. It was a game that touched the lives of many gamers, and it didn’t stop there.

The Call of Duty Franchise went on to making games to help further the series. The games went from World War 2, to modern day, and even into the far future. With every release, the game improved in gameplay, and even came out with a new story every time. One of my personal favorites has to be Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. That story left me in tears by the end of it. Bonding with the soldiers who you fight with throughout the game, only to see them die before you is heart wrenching. Though the characters may be fictional, it still shows what kind of hell these men had gone through. The multiplayer in Call of Duty is great, but I think the stories they tell are even better.

152809-Call_of_Duty_2_-_Big_Red_One_(Europe)-2

Deus Ex

The series began back in 2000 with the first installment, and grew in popularity ever since. The series was very famous for it’s gameplay as well as it’s story. The game revolves around conspiracy and corruption, and the only person you can trust is yourself. Throughout the game series, you never known what’s going to be thrown at you as you descend further down the rabbit hole. Friends will turn on you, corporations will hunt you, and at the end of the day, you’ll need to rely on your instincts and your augmentations.

This is a game of choice as well as thinking. Certain choices you make in the game will have an impact on things later on, and things can get very crazy very fast depending on your decisions. Not only does this have good gameplay, but it gives the player a very well made and complex story and world to explore. Throughout the series you explore places like New York, Detroit, Hong Kong, Singapore, Prague, and Arizona. You experience the cyberpunk world of Deus Ex. Human augmentations being sold to the general public to help enhance them and making them more human.

It’s a very immersive game that I feel deserves more attention.

Deus_Ex_Universe

Half-Life

Oh, Half-Life. A once famous and popular gaming franchise that has been around since 1998 and is still popular today with the release of Black Mesa back in 2012. It revolutionized the gaming industry with one word, physics. While it wasn’t the first game to implement physics, it was the one to popularize the concept. Since the release of Half-Life 2, nearly all games that came out after the fact began using physics in some way. Not only was this game famous for it’s mechanics, but again, for it’s complex story as well.

You play as theoretical physicist by the name of Dr. Gordon Freeman who used to work at famous scientific research facility known as Black Mesa. One day, your team manages to get their hands on strange crystal from the Xen Relay and decide to conduct an experiment on it. During the experiment, the crystal creates a rift between our world and the Xen Relay. This causes a number of alien creatures to invade Earth, and reek havoc on humanity. You are one of the few survivors of the Black Mesa Incident, and must find a way out of the facility and back to the surface. However, not everything is what it seems.

Throughout the game, you are constantly being followed by this strange man in black who seems to be observing you. The closer to the end of the game you get, the more and more he appears. This game will surprise you with it’s complex story and it’s relation to the company’s other titles.

Half-Life-2-Episode-3-Artwork-half-life-2575197-1181-1452

In Conclusion

Everyone has their reasons to play games. Sometimes it’s just a way for us to past time, maybe it’s so we can get immersed into the story, or even simply because the game is so good we can’t put the controller down. Gaming, like all other forms of media, is a way to separate us from reality. To put us into a fictional world where imagination can run wild and free. A world where we can do whatever we want, how ever we want to. We can make good or bad decisions, be a hero or a villain, and even destroy a world and rebuild it again. However, we shouldn’t be silent about the games with a powerful message.

Games that can teach us the good and bad of the world. Games that can make us laugh and cry. Games that can show true corruption, and how it can affect the world. Those games need to be recognized, and be given more attention.

Special Thanks!

Thank You Everyone!

Just wanted to thank everyone for their support in bringing life to this blog. It feels really good to finally be exploring my skills in writing. I hope this blog can not only improve my writing, but inspire me to do bigger and better things. I’m going to be starting small with my blog. Starting next week, I’ll be posting a blog every Tuesday and Thursday from now on. Soon as I start getting a bigger audience, I plan on posting at least Monday – Friday. If you guys have any stories you wish for me to discuss, please don’t hesitate to email me at br4vo14@hotmail.com. I’m open to any suggestions you guys have. Thanks again for the support you’ve given me, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

– Mason Russell

Final Fantasy XV: Another Game of War

Final Fantasy XV: Another Game of War

Introduction

Machine Zone, a company we’ve all come to know. The company started small back in 2013 with their recent mobile game, Game of War: Fire Age, and got bigger in 2015 during the Super Bowl with their famous commercial for the game, featuring Kate Upton. It was a silly, over the top performance for a rather dull and below average game. Still the game managed to make a lot of cash in 2015, with over $600 million in revenues in that year alone, and as of August 3rd, 2017, it is making a little over $700,000 in daily revenues alone. This game is the one that started it all. Following the release and popularity of Game of War, we were soon greeted with Mobile Strike in 2015. Most popular, again, for it’s commercials now featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This game, was almost the exact same as Game of War. Very similar style and gameplay, and it made $1.47 million worldwide ($873K in revenues). Both of these combined made a little over $2 million worldwide, and when you see these games, you begin to wonder how and why.

Then the day comes. On March 31st, 2017, Machine Zone releases Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, and I instantly begin to cringe. This game, once again, is extremely similar in both style and gameplay from both Mobile Strike and Game of War. This game is exceptionally insulting to the Final Fantasy Franchise. It plays absolutely nothing like the classic games we all know and love. It’s just another Game of War clone with Final Fantasy XV painted over it, because the “developers” at Machine Zone were too lazy to update or change their games over time. In today’s blog, I wish to discuss the absolute insanity of this marketing scheme that companies like Machine Zone make every day, and succeed at. Let’s have a look.

What is Game of War?

Game of War, released back in 2013, was a Real Time Strategy game that is based around building a kingdom with resources you collect, gold you earn, and armies you raise. Once you build a strong enough kingdom and army, you may have the option to go to war with other kingdoms. In an attempt to steal their resources, and even capture their hero. If you’re not one for going solo, you can make alliances with other players. This will allow to supply each other with various resources, as well as gold, to keep both of your kingdoms afloat. Sounds like a brilliant game concept, right? Well, not quite.

Though the game on paper sounds to be well put together, things begin to slowly fall apart immediately after the tutorial. The game throws you into this false sense of security, giving you free gold and resources so that it may show you how the game works. After that, it sets you on your own, and the tasks slowly begin getting harder and harder. With every objective you complete the costs start getting bigger and bigger. Pretty soon, you start to notice your resources and gold are quickly depleting, and your kingdom is slowly growing desperate. You try building and expanding new parts of your kingdom, only to be met with a time wall that lasts anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, and you don’t have that time. What do you do? Buy the micro-transactions of course.

If it isn’t the obnoxious time walls Game of War throws in your face, they do better advertising their micro-transactions at you, or in this case “bundle packs”. These lovely little packages include huge boosts in gold and resources. They’re the little things that catch your eyes, and for only $2.99, you have no choice but to buy. One way or another, you can and will fall victim to this nasty scheme. You may start the game playing for free, but soon enough, you’ll be tempted by the dark side of micro-transactions.

That is Game of War in a nutshell. A formula that has now been repeated three times.

First Kate, then Arnold, and now Final Fantasy

One of the ways Machine Zone’s games rose to such popularity was due to their commercials featuring famous people and franchises. The most notable being the recent partnership between Square Enix and Machine Zone to create Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. One of the worst partnerships in history, but the smartest. What better way to make an extra buck than by partnering up with a company that has two of the top grossing games on iOS? It’s a genius idea by Square Enix.

Now, the reason why I’m most upset about this is not only because of the fact that it’s just the same exact game, but the fact that its Final Fantasy. A game series that’s famous for it’s amazing and unique gameplay, it’s incredibly in depth story, and it’s beautifully crafted characters. In case you’re wondering, no, there’s none of that in FFXV: A New Empire. No story, no characters, just a bland, lifeless Noctis telling you how to build your castle. It’s boring, and they could’ve done so much with this game! They could’ve added a story to, they could’ve added better gameplay with the combat, they could’ve come up with a new concept for the game, but they instead simply copy and paste their old formula from their past games, because it’s cheaper and it gives them more money. Its what Machine Zone is best at.

The Solution

The best solution to this issue is to stop supporting these kind of disgusting business practices. Stop giving in to their micro-transactions, stop supporting their copy & paste method of game design, and show Machine Zone what a real video game looks like. By now, its painfully obvious that the company is simply doing this for money and nothing more. If their use of Arnold didn’t give it away, Final Fantasy certainly does. If we stop supporting groups like this, maybe we can get them to change their ways. Possibly set gaming companies on a better path for the future. Only time will tell.

In Conclusion

We all have a choice. We can choose to download and invest money into games like these. We can choose to support these kind of games for having iconic characters advertise them to us. As long as Machine Zone continues making money off their games with their ridiculous micro-transactions, then more companies will soon follow in their footsteps. Hell, they already have. However, that is a choice we all must make. I think this quote by Froghand can sum it up pretty well.

“We’ve entered an ecosystem where games are no longer sold to players, but are instead leased to them piecemeal, where it is perfectly acceptable to create an unfinished product because the sheep just don’t fucking care about their rights as a consumer. And one of the problems that this ecosystem presents is that games have no more room for flavor text and fun, because to have too much fun would mean that there won’t be any more opportunities to sell more of the game to them later on down the line, in micro-transactions and character skins and other devious practices which have, due to the ignorance and disinterest for the disgusting and unwashed gamer masses, become the standard norm for games, paid, free, or otherwise. It is no longer enough for companies to charge eighty dollars – eighty fucking bucks, the price of two week’s worth of groceries – per game, in addition to the four to six hundred dollars for the games console itself, but it is only once they start adding in ways to continue extracting money from you even after you’ve paid this exorbitant price for a luxury product, that they will become placated until they find more ways to nickel and dime you.”

At the end of the day, we the consumer must decide if this is okay.

Works Cited

  1. DiChristopher, Tom. “Immersive Games Cashing in on Mobile Billions.” CNBC, CNBC, 3 May 2014, http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/02/on-mobile-more-challenging-games-mean-more-money.html.
  2. Gilbert, Ben. “How the Abysmal ‘Game of War’ Featuring Kate Upton Makes so Much Money.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 22 May 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-game-of-war-makes-money-2015-5.
  3. https://thinkgaming.com/app-sales-data/3352/game-of-war-fire-age/
  4. https://thinkgaming.com/app-sales-data/164583/final-fantasy-xv-a-new-empire/
  5. Carter ThomasDecember 8, 2015App Monetization, Blog, Case Studies 25 Comments. “13 Top Grossing Apps That Are Making Way Too Much Money.” Bluecloud Solutions – App Marketing, Bluecloud Solutions, 21 Feb. 2017, http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/13-top-grossing-apps-revenue/.
  6. “Machine Zone and Square Enix Announce Partnership to Develop FINAL FANTASY XV Mobile MMO Game.” Business Wire, 7 Nov. 2016, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161107006256/en/Machine-Zone-Square-Enix-Announce-Partnership-Develop.