Remember when a game for your Xbox 360 or PS3 only took 8gb to download before you were able to jump in? Remember only having to pay for it once? Nowadays we have games that bridge close to 200gb and a price tag that severely lightens up your wallet, and that’s before having to drop more money for new content.
It was only after EA added in microtransactions and locked away once-free content in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 when I began to ask myself where and when we went wrong. Only a few years prior I was able to fork out the $60 to buy the game and I had the entire experience ready to go. Now, everything’s coming with season passes and high-priced DLCs that can make that $60 go up to $200+ just to get the full experience. It’s a bummer, but even more so when I realize that greed has always had its hand in the gaming industry.
Take the ye ‘olden arcades as an example. You shovel out a quarter for another chance to continue playing one of those classic platform games like Tetra or Street Fighter II, lose a life, and then shovel out more quarters to try again. It’s a formula that’s been around for decades but seems to have just now been perfected. Granted, arcades were a different experience, but it may have been the first event to show companies just how much we wanted to play their games.
The greed is excusable, but only to a point. It’s easy to say that companies are getting greedier when compared to how they used to operate when it came to consoles like the N64. Consoles such as those were limited mainly to memory and required only a fraction of what it takes to make a game successful in modern times. Video games have become much more complex with the addition of better textures, cinematic scenes, and bigger map sizes. Add in better voice acting and it becomes clear that to make these, you have to hire additional teams, which makes them all the more expensive.
There is a point, but it doesn’t excuse legitimate greedy acts as we’ve seen from Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision who decided that he couldn’t let his developers get that huge bonus after the popular release of Modern Warfare. Not “I can finally pay off my mortgage” huge, but “now I can buy a brand new house and pay it off right then” huge. The only reason we have Respawn Entertainment is that Bobby Kotick couldn’t stand the thought of these developers making more money than him. But we kinda have to thank him. If it wasn’t for that greedy move, then the Titanfall franchise would have never existed and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would have never graced our downloads list.
The companies are starting to learn that while greed may be a requirement for keeping the games we love, they can’t go overboard with it. EA’s microtransactions and locked content spawned multiple anti-gambling laws lowering or prohibiting altogether the sale of certain types of loot boxes. Rockstar has been battling the glitches and modders of GTA V who only want enough money on the game to enjoy it. Not every gamer is going to be okay with spending 72 real-life hours in-game just to get a few million dollars, especially with the extremely expensive toys that improve your quality of life on the game (Faster missions and protection from the broomstick riders.)
You can see how more and more people are getting up in arms about things like that when companies pump out the same game for seven years and expect people to jump for joy for its planned release on the PS5.
Our newest example comes from the upcoming Marvel: The Avengers game. Spider-man is going to be a PS exclusive, and the PS community is going to be paying the same amount as Xbox and PC. This is a problem, not because many of us are butt-hurt we’ll never be able to play as our favorite web-slinger, but because keeping content locked across multiple platforms, even if you paid the same price, sets a very dangerous standard for the future. Exclusive games for a specific platform is one thing, as are game modes and games being platform-exclusive for specific amounts of time. Red Dead Redemption 2 took a long time for the PC community to get their hands on, but we knew it was something that was going to happen.
Now we are talking about locking content away from other players even though they paid the same price, and it’s very unlikely this is going to be something that happens once or twice. Dangerous practices like this could completely change how we play games from the companies we love or bring in new obstacles to the point where we can’t.
When I first started with this idea for the article, I tried to pinpoint the exact time (or game) where the companies changed how they do things. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible. Sure, there was a game or two out there that opened up the eyes for those who had MBAs, but greed has always been a driving force in the gaming industry. A business’ number one goal will always be to bring in enough revenue to continue going forward, and now, we’re just starting to realize how far some of these companies will go to reach this goal.