I love video games, but I hate how much they cost; even the free ones


Many free games can turn out to be anything but free when players purchase in-game items and add-ons.

Sam Pak / Unsplash

Many free games can turn out to be anything but free when players purchase in-game items and add-ons.

OPINION: Free games are, as the name suggests, free to play.

There is no initial purchase price, just register, download the game and go.

While it sounds fantastic on paper, the question arises: how do these companies make money? It’s this monetization of free games, and it’s slowly sucking up the soul of the gaming industry.

The most common form of monetization in free-to-play games is something called micro-transactions.

These are things like one-time purchases of in-game items, like a new outfit for your character, or boosts that allow you to progress faster in the game. Some of these items can cost you a pretty penny.

The term ‘whale’ is used by the gaming industry to refer to a person who spends a lot of money on these micro-transactions. Thousands of dollars.

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A whale can easily be worth more in terms of dollars to the game company than 10,000 casual players of the same game.

This has prompted game companies to actively target these players.

As a result, the prices of some of these micro-transactions are absurd.

What gave you a whole new storyline for your game, or a bunch of new multiplayer maps to play on, now only gives you a few small cosmetic pieces, such as mudguards for your Warthog in the latest Halo game, Halo Infinite. .

Back in the day, you bought a game, maybe got it as a birthday or Christmas present, and you owned the entire game.

You had the whole experience at your fingertips, ready to play and enjoy.

Now, as games move more and more towards a free-to-play model, they are being phased out. Features are removed and now locked behind micro-transactions.

Now you can play for free, yes, but the content that was once included now totals way more than if the game was a normal base price.

Think of it like getting a book for free, but the second half of each chapter costs $ 5. Is the book really free?

As a result, the vast majority of us gamers who are not whales get a game devoid of features and content, and would have to shell out more money to get the same content than if the game were just that. ‘a one-time initial purchase. the price.

Where it gets really problematic and bordering on predatory is when game companies start to model their games around micro-transactions.

Want to sell boosts that allow you to progress further in the game? Making the game take longer to progress, causing players to feel the urge to purchase these boosts.

Do you want to sell character costumes? Make the default costumes bland and dull.

The motto of free games is apparently to create the problem so that you can sell the solution.

Bryce Ranson has been an avid gamer for 20 years and has seen how the industry has changed during that time.

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Carolyn M. Daniel