Inflation is often the counter argument to our complaints against microtransactions, DLC, season passes and premium editions. Some people seem to think that the gaming industry is having a hard time dealing with inflation and that microtransactions and DLC are essentially the replacement for the $70.00 price tag.
This is due to the fact that for god knows what reason, game developers assume that people will not pay $70.00 for a videogame and as such they need to chop up the game in segments and make us pay $120 for a complete game and $60.00 for 75% of a game. Ask yourself this question, why did net neutrality exist to begin with? That’s simple, because net neutrality enforced ISP’s to offer fair deals. Sadly the same cannot be said for the gaming industry because it is difficult to discern the value of games, hence the reason why I started adding a value to every single game I review… because that’s what the game is worth to me.
But what if this was to be the case? What if games were valuated in the same way a property is valuated? Unlike ISP’s which can be valued based on clear facts, videogames are a highly subjective medium, we can’t simply judge a game’s value… or can we? Of course we fucking can, why the hell do you think I started reviewing games in the first place?
My philosophy is that you can still measure the quality of any medium no matter how subjective it may be, those measurements may be personal, sure but I think all games have a median value and that we as game critics should take action and decide how much a game is worth. Sites like Metacritic are wasted potential for this reason, they allow people to give a game a score and the combined value of each person’s score is the outcome. Perhaps if Metacritic allowed for people to valuate a game then we would have a weapon that we could use against the scummy publishers who overcharge us for games, a way to spread a strong, shared message.
Of course it would likely be abused by people but I think such an idea is important to think about considering we have Youtube channels like Extra Credits which are actually justifying microtransactions and DLC and explaining to us that these practices are necessary for the gaming industry to stay afloat. That’s a lie! Take a look at the steam store page and look at all these indie titles, look at their price tag, do you see many Indie games priced at $60.00? Nope. Why? Because indie developers aren’t so arrogant as to think that they can control the prices of their games through brand influence and marketing… unlike AAA publishers who get away with it every single time.
Why do they get away with it? Because we let them! We have been getting ripped off for years now. I hate to use the word “we” because I understand that some of us, myself included have held ourselves back from purchasing certain games due to the unethical practices associated with them. The masses on the other hand continue to consume these games and as such videogame publishers have maintained the value of their games. So why can’t indie’s do the same? That’s simple, indie developers are making games that nobody wants to play. They realize that they cannot compete on the same level as AAA game developers as they lack the funds to properly market their game, let alone add features most AAA games offer which would require strong marketing in order for the additional costs required to implement these features to be viable as they need to make that money back.
So you can clearly see that the gaming industry is completely one-sided, the big AAA companies have dictated the exact value of our games. It’s about time we, the consumer decides what we are prepared to spend on a game. We need to discipline ourselves better and just say “no”. How hard is it to miss out on a yearly release that isn’t going to be too much different from the last? I skipped Pokemon Black/White but I still played Pokemon X and Y and I didn’t feel like I missed out.
I personally think that the average gaming consumer needs to grow a nutsack and do what I did with Pokemon Black/White. If the game is not impressing you, don’t buy it, it’s simple. Ok let me rephrase this, if a game looks like it isn’t worth paying $60.00, don’t buy it at $60.00… got it? I don’t think you have, so I’m going to go further into this.
The biggest problem with most of you people is that you’re too impatient. You people seem to have this mindset in which you condition yourself to play every single game the moment it is released. Now as a games blogger, I get it. I pre-ordered Kingdom Come Deliverance. Why? Because it’s a game I would actually like to make content for and if I bought the game too late (which I often do) then the interest in the game would dwindle, especially if it ends up being a bad game. As such it is important for me to at least play 1 new release.
Last year I played Nier Automata and in my review, I mentioned feeling ripped off because I was charged an extra £5.00 on top of the usual £40.00 and how the game just wasn’t worth £45.00. Nier Automata was the only game I played that was released last year and as such it wins the Cynical Gaming Blog’s Game Of The Year award 2017 for being the only game I played that was released in 2017, nothing more, nothing less.
If you expect me to give Nier Automata a medal for being an underwhelming attempt to impress me, you must be out of your mind. I tore that game a new asshole and rightfully so, the game needed to be put in its place so I put it in its place. Did I give it a bad rating? No because it’s not a bad game but can I say that I thoroughly enjoyed it enough to warrant the price of £45.00? Hell no, I valued it at £40.00 and that was a very generous valuation for the monotony that game put me through in its later sections.
Before writing my review of Nier Automata, I was conflicted. Should I be forgiving or should I be harsh? Some reviewers would argue that they should be completely unbiased and objective, I’m not one of those reviewers. Sure I can highlight some points that may affect people in a positive/negative way but I’m not going to copy/paste a Wikipedia article, I’m going to express exactly how I felt playing Nier Automata because that expression is how I illustrate my experience of the game so that you, the reader can make up your own mind based on the things I mention in my review.
I’m glad I chose the latter, my Nier Automata review is a symbol, a symbol that I will not tolerate any kind of bullshit in this industry, if you have the nerve to up the price tag, watch your back, I will spread the word of your bullshit. I am always watching, observing your attempts to get us to pay more than we should and one of these days you might find your game suffer the same fate as Nier Automata did in my review.
Now what about inflation you ask? First of all, have you noticed that games are not only adding more DLC and microtransactions but they are also going up in price? Is James Portnow blind or something? He points out that games are not going up in price when technically they are, take a good look around, Blue Reflection was £49.99 at launch, Exist Archive was £49.99 at launch, Nier Automata was £44.99 at launch and finally there’s Ys VIII which was also £44.99 at launch. Now I’m starting to see a trend here, all of these games are made in Japan. Are we paying extra for localization now? I made a blog about this ages ago but I seriously think that this is the case.
Plus notice how these prices differ, some charge £5.00 for localization, others charge £10.00 for localization. How does that make sense? How can 1 localization cost more than another? This is absolute nonsense, someone is clearly profiting off of this and sure, these are companies, it’s their job to profit from our misery… but as consumers it’s our job to stop that from happening and keeping the balance. Why aren’t we doing this!?
So in response to James Portnow’s recent extra credits video about the prices of games and how they shouldn’t be $60.00, take a closer look and you will find that the base prices of games started going up way before you uploaded your video. I’d also like to note that Nier Automata generated a ton of sales despite this lofty price tag. So technically your justification for the industry’s need to implement DLC and microtransactions in their games is absolutely bloody ludicrous. Add to that the fact that these companies are still capable of squandering this money on high quality graphics and trailers (I’m looking at you Activision-Blizzard), if inflation was as bad as you make it out to be, would they still be able to afford this? Hell no.
In fact, the only people who suffer as a result are indie developers which is quite sad because indie developers often tend to charge way too little for their games. I purchased Prison Architect’s “name in-game” bundle (which includes 4 other games) for under £15.00, a price so low that I might as well just put my own name in the game for spending so little money on a game that offers so much because I have committed daylight robbery and thus I should be imprisoned for at least 2 months.
So why is it that a game like Prison Architect (it’s a good game by the way) manages to charge a measly £14.99 when Call Of Duty WW2 charges £44.99? It doesn’t make any sense to me. So how can inflation affect the industry in such a way that requires games to charge $70.00? Fun fact: it doesn’t.
You see, inflation is a fancy word for “Adapt”. When prices are required to go up, it is natural that the quality offered by the product will go up with the price. I remember back in the early 2000’s when a game called Pokemon Gold and Silver was released. After playing Pokemon Yellow and enjoying it, I was excited for Pokemon Gold and Silver. When I finally played Pokemon Gold and Silver however, my expectations for the game were more than met, heck I was blown away by how much they managed to add to the game. Pokemon Gold and Silver is a good example as to how games should adapt to inflation, by being more valuable than the previous game in the series. The problem is, this just isn’t the case anymore, games are getting worse, not better.
The existence of all these “re-boots” is due to the fact that game developers have completely run out of ideas on how to build on a series and as such they reboot it as an excuse to use their brand’s power to generate income without having to enhance their game, rather they make something completely different which may or may not be better than the previous game. There’s no real quality control anymore, instead there is a system that verifies if a game can psychologically influence the consumer to purchase not just a single product but multiple products in the form of microtransactions. This is what the gaming industry has become and we have to accept this. As such, we need to put our foot down and force game publishers to provide us with quality experiences like they did back in sixth gen.
Sure you can argue that there have been some great games released this generation. I personally enjoyed Odin Sphere Leifthrasir the most this generation, a sixth gen game completely rebuilt from the ground up. Why is it that a re-release of a game released in sixth gen just happens to be my favorite game of eighth gen so far? For those of you who are still unconvinced, I have reviewed several sixth gen games on this site that you probably haven’t played before. Go play them, then come back and if you still don’t get the point I’m trying to make, I clearly haven’t reviewed the right game for you yet. There have been so many games released on PS2 that I’d be fucking dead by the time I counted them all, go play them!