Updates Wednesdays

Comic 382 - Too far

Posted on Tuesday, the 29th of October at 11:00 PM, 2019 in 2019

Author Notes:

DanVzare Tue, 29. Oct 11:00 PM, 2019 edit delete
I guarantee you will one day see literal commercials in video games.
It'll probably be something like: turn adverts on to earn ingame money, or you can pay for the premium subscription so you don't have to have adverts on to earn ingame money, or perhaps just pay for the ingame money outright.

Would you like a quick history of the ways content has been added to games?
Keep reading if you do.

First, games came out.

Then of course came the sequel. You could rework your previous game, improve upon it, then release it. This was then corrupted by companies just re-releasing the exact same game with minor changes (see the Fifa series). But most sequels are still to this day, an improvement over the originals.

Next came the expansion pack. You could add onto your game and improve it. It was like half of a sequel, but it required the original game to play it. Naturally there was the slight problem that you were limiting your audience to whoever owned the original game. But these expansions might fuel the sales of that original game. You could even do package deals. (Deluxe editions for example.) That being said, they were never really popular. Probably because they weren't that profitable.
This was none the less later corrupted by companies intentionally releasing a rather basic base-game, with which to graft expansions onto. (See Spore and The Sims 4.)

Next came the re-released special editions! (Not to be confused with the whole silver-gold-ultimate edition thing that's going on now.) This was short lived, and more of a prelude to DLCs, most notably for consoles that couldn't connect to the internet. (See Devil May Cry 3, and Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.)
It did kind of evolve into the HD re-releases and GOTY re-releases we have now, which typically have all of the DLCs. And those are in turn being corrupted by not including all (or any) of the DLCs, and instead re-selling them all at a slightly higher price. (See Call of Duty Modern Warfare.)

Up next was downloadable content, better known as DLC. Thanks to the internet, companies realized they could sell tiny little additions to a game. They didn't cost much to make, they didn't cost much to buy. Little risk, little reward. But it opened the floodgates none the less. As they were quickly corrupted by companies that realized that they could easily carve out content, which you would then get for free if you bought the game brand new. Therefore reducing the sales of used games. Heck, why even give it out free! Just carve out something that's already been implemented (like a character) and straight up sell it to everyone.
Heck, why even have unlockables anymore! You can literally sell all of that stuff now!
(See Soul Calibur VI, and many many more games.)

Next came microtransactions. A natural evolution of DLC, and one that originated as a means for free-to-play games to earn money. If you could now sell unlockables, then what else could you sell that was standard? How about cheat codes! This already pretty corrupted practice was corrupted even more, because companies quickly realized that people would be more likely to want to use microtransactions, if they had a reason to. After all, if you're struggling with a game, you'll want to use a cheat code to make it easier. So just make the games harder. But you can't just make it more difficult. That could push people away, or worse, they might get good at the game. It has to be a difficulty that can't be overcome with skill. Thankfully there was already a solution, and RPGs provided it. Grind! Just include a leveling system into all of your games, and lower the exp gain to a minuscule amount, and boom, instant sales. (See Assassin's Creed Odyssey.)

Then came updates. If you have microtransactions, then you've essentially made a game which can constantly provide you with money. But how do you get people to keep playing? Well, the answer is essentially free DLC. You can even fix some problems in the game. Too bad even game updates were corrupted by companies, by using them to mess about with values to make the grind as perfect as possible, sometimes they even add microtransactions in after the reviews, just to make the game sound better than it is. But what really corrupted updates, was when companies realized that if they could fix games after they were released. What was the point of testing? Heck, what was the point of even finishing the game! And so came roadmaps and promises of things to come, that never do. (See Anthem and Fallout 76.)

Finally, lootboxes were invented. Like microtransactions, this particular thing was made for free-to-play games. Most notably mobile games. And is essentially a microtransaction that unlocks something for you using slot-machine mechanics. It could be described as a booster pack for a trading card game, but with more psychological tricks implemented. And this is when game companies realized the profit in gambling.
Now some people will say it's not gambling. But it is. If lootboxes aren't gambling because the rewards have no monetary value, then why are they charging for it? Also, why is the Game Corner in Pokemon considered gambling, despite not only the rewards having "no monetary value" but also requiring no real money whatsoever? Lootboxes typically require (or at least allow the use of) actual money. I still haven't heard an argument against that one.
And if you continue to argue that lootboxes simply can't be considered gambling. Then I point you to pinball machines, which were for a time, considered gambling. Try explaining how they came to that conclusion?
To summarize, you can't point to something and say "that can't be gambling because of this" because what is and isn't considered gambling, is seemingly quite random. It's a very case-by-case basis sort of thing. I mean, just look at coin pushers. They don't qualify as gambling, despite requiring actual money and giving actual monetary rewards (both reasons I hear constantly for why lootboxes aren't considered gambling).
In other words, if enough people think it should be considered gambling. It's gambling. And lootboxes seem to qualify on that front.

Up next I think there will be ingame commercials. Mobile games already do this for obvious reasons. But considering AAA games have already taken everything else that free-to-play mobile games do, I don't see why they wouldn't take that as well.
I guess we'll see how things go.


Geeky Meerkat Wed, 30. Oct 6:35 AM, 2019 edit delete reply
Wow log post, but let's talk about the first remark:

"It'll probably be something like: turn adverts on to earn ingame money, or you can pay for the premium subscription so you don't have to have adverts on to earn ingame money, or perhaps just pay for the ingame money outright."

It has already happened some time back. In the game Anarchy Online if you play as a free player you see billboards with actual advertisements on them in game, for RL things. If you pay to play those billboards are replaced with in universe advertisements.

There are already games such as the first Dragon Age game where you encounter an NPC whose sole purpose is to tell you that he's got a quest for you but you have to buy the DLC to do it.

Heck you have games that are basically one big playable advertisement for other games. Look at Smash Brothers. Sure you get to fight this guy from that game, and that gal from that other game but that's just it they are all from other games. I know for myself at least I had NEVER even heard of some of those games and have since tried some of them until Smash Brothers.

I'm just waiting for a game where it does something like make the healing items Dr Pepper and whenever you drink one you are treated to a quick cut scene of your character chugging one at just the right angle so you can see the label on the can. Got to get that product placement in games like they got in movies.
DanVzare Wed, 30. Oct 2:49 PM, 2019 edit delete reply
I'm surprised you didn't point out Street Fighter V, which allows you to turn on sponsored equipment to earn ingame currency.