It has been largely believed since the dawn of modern gaming that EA is the worst gaming company ever. I myself have even held them accountable for the state of the games industry while some (Scott) would put the blame on the consumer. But what if I told you that while we were rallying against the EA’s and the Ubisoft’s of the world and their questionable business practices, a darker more sinister publisher was doing it’s best to get it’s hands on your money on top of the $60 you already coughed up.
It started with a pre-order bonus(es). If you remember back to 2011 the world was ready for a follow up to only good Batman game ever released, Batman: Arkham Asylum. I personally could not wait to get my hands on the expanded game and take my Batman combos to the streets of Gotham. I was so excited I was even going to pre-order. That was the first hint. Content was chopped up from the game and divided among various retailers. Pre-order at Best Buy and you could play as Robin, Gamestop and you get a Joker level along with tons of others options. It was then decided you could buy the other bonuses as paid DLC at a later date essentially charging you for content that was already on disc and ready to go.
It continued with easy fatalities. When Mortal Kombat X came out (along with pre order bonus Goro, later unlocked for real money) it was discovered that you could buy something called “easy fatalities,” a special one time use item where instead of inputting the correct sequence of buttons to do a special finishing move ( a point of pride among MK veterans) you could hold “X” and recieve the same results. You could also earn these easy fatalities in the “Krypt.” a feature in many MK games where you earn in game currency to unlock various art, cinematics, skins and characters. Or you could skip all that grind and pay money to instantly unlock everything in the Krypt.
Shadows of Mordor was a great game right? Like it came out of nowhere and was everything we never knew we needed especially in a year of disappointing Assassin Creed games. So when you look at how good the game was and how well it was received it is pretty stunning that FTC went after it pretty hard when it was discovered that the game was sent to popular Youtube gamers in turn for positive reviews.
Stat altering gear.
One of the things that make fighting games so appealing is that every is basically on the same page to start. There is no level, you aren’t starting off with a lower power gun and going against level 70 players with AK’s atleast you weren’t until the introduction of Injustice 2’s gear system. Gear that is unlocked by way of loot boxes.
If you haven’t figured out what all these games have in common yet, it’s publisher WB Games. They have been forcing the practices into all of their games and rarely do I ever seem them compared to those other companies people love to hate. It was recently revealed that the sequel Shadows of Mordor titled Shadows of War will have microtransactions. Shadows of War is mainly a single player game so what that basically means is you are paying to skip the grind, since everything unlockable through purchasing will be unlockable through playing the game. Yep you pay $60, then pay extra to unlock the best gear and Orc army to breeze through the game. Fun right? It’s almost like they think the game isn’t fun enough on it’s own, you need to pay to bypass some boring stuff.
On a whole, this diminishes the excitement I once had for this game. As a parent, where my time and money is limited, do I really want to invest both to a company that only sees me as cash cow? I vote with my money, so if I buy this game I am essentially giving WB a pass to keep doing things like this. I know things like purchasing in game loot boxes are optional. I know how it sounds when I rally so hard against them in this while my favorite game of the past year, Overwatch, is littered with the same. It just seems extra slimy to pack them into a story driven game.
The same time news on Shadows microtransactions came out, Hellblade came out. Hellblade is somewhat a unique game. Developed by studio Ninja Theory and published by studio Ninja Theory. That means where other games rely on a big publisher to fund the games process then release it, usually with little extras to milk more money from the consumer, Hellblade is fully in control of the people who made it. It is an “indie AAA” experience with a $30 price tag. I encourage everyone to look into what Ninja Theory are trying to do in the game industry because it is really admirable. The entire game was created with a team no larger than 22 people and self published digitally. Check out their development diary on Youtube. Let’s find more studios like this and send a message to the WB’s and EA’s that we are watching them and not impressed.