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From Micro to Macro: Enough is Enough

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By Nelson Schneider - 10/16/16 at 01:10 PM CT

Having recently dipped a toe into the multi-player mode of “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” I was disgusted to find a mobile-style microtransaction engine instead of a complementary game mode. Other mainstream “AAA” developers, like Square Enix, have been sneaking this type of nonsense into retail releases, like the latest ‘Deus Ex’ title, as well.

When microtransactions started out, they seemed innocuous enough. Horse Armor in “Oblivion” was one of the bigger, more memetic jokes made about early microtransactions, but, for the most part, they were indeed small, cosmetic, and fully optional.

More recently, however, I have noticed a distinct trend of ‘micro’transactions no longer remaining small. Many of the terrible mobile games that Chris and Nick just can’t stop playing are Free2Play – meaning that they are actually Pay2Win – and while the not-particularly-optional payments start out fairly small, they inexorably built, to the point that the costlier ones are now going for the definitely-not-micro price of $99.99.

WHAT?!

When did $100, nearly twice the price of a full retail console game, become an acceptable ‘micro’transaction for ‘optional’ or ‘cosmetic’ features? Four such ‘macrotransactions,’ as I like to call them, will get you a brand new current-gen console… Ten will get you a very nice gaming PC! Yet there are people who are addicted to spending money on terrible mobile, and mobile-style games, who will drop the cash for one (or more!) of these macrotransactions per week!

Is this not a little bit insane? Apologists and shills will, of course, try to handwave away my umbrage with macrotransactions by telling me that I have no right to tell other people how to spend their money. However, when these other dumbasses have been feeding the microtransaction demon to the point that it has grown so bold and rampant as to spread into retail games like ‘Dragon Age’ and ‘Deus Ex,’ I do have a legitimate complaint.

Where will this type of predatory money-grubbing stop? Are we headed into a future where no single piece of entertainment software is a complete experience for a reasonable price, but instead a hollowed-out shell that must be filled with regular sacrifices of filthy lucre in order to make it playable?

Jim Sterling, the rotund SJW who runs The Jimquisition, has addressed this issue frequently, dubbing the inclusion of predatory micro/macro-transactions in full-priced retail games, ‘Fee2Pay.’ I can’t help but agree with him that this kind of nonsense absolutely has to stop. Publishers are trying to double-dip on their customer base: Pay once for the ‘privilege’ of ‘owning’ the game, then pay over and over in perpetuity in order to make said game playable. Sure, the government gets away with this kind of nonsense in the form of property and real estate taxes, but we all hate them for it. Shouldn’t we hate publishers who do this too? And since we aren’t being forced, under penalty of law, to participate in this double-dipping nonsense by videogame publishers, shouldn’t we all band together and completely stonewall the idea that $100 is a ‘small’ amount of money to throw away on ‘optional’ content in a poorly-made game experience?

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dbarry_22

Wrote on10/17/16 at 11:19 AM CT

I think this all started with DLC. Companies discovered that gamers will pay for a game again after the initial buy. This is why I'm not a fan of playing anything competitively online anymore. Others can have such an advantage by paying for "extra" stuff. I find it really hard to support a game that relies on transactions like this. I've barely begun to accept the DLC movement that's occurred. I believe micro-transactions are really hurting the gaming industry and we will continue to see it in more and more high profile AAA games. It's sad really.

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