A study of microtransactions in games

The business practice of selling small in-game content to players has become a reluctant norm of the modern gaming industry. The audience reaction to this varies widely between utter disgust to complete indifference. There are arguments for and against them but I am here to try and layout the argument for why they represent a very real threat to the medium that we all love.

The key argument I most often see in favour of microtransactions is that game developers and publishers are businesses that need to make money. The more impassive take the stance that if you don’t want them then nobody is forcing players to buy them. Both of these facts are true but don’t accurately reflect reality.

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Below is my evidence on why all players should take a stand against this business practice. Continue reading

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Nier Automata and Depression

The overarching theme of Nier Automata is that of humanity. It is of consciousness, awareness and the self.  What makes this interesting though is that there aren’t any human characters but instead artificial beings desperate to find meaning in their lives. It is a Sci-Fi trope as old as the genre yet it always evokes strong reactions because of the question it raises about the fundamentals of what humanity actually is.

Depression is an illness that preys upon the darker aspects of humanity and the uncertainty that surrounds it. To be depressed is often to question the core pillars that hold up our individual lives and the structure of society. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there something more?Why can’t I get to be where I want to be? Why don’t I fit in? What right do I have to this life when so many more deserving died before their time? It is a constant cycle of darkness that needs to be fought constantly so that it doesn’t simply overwhelm you. Continue reading

Death in Games – Narrative/Mechanical Synergy

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Video games hold a unique position in media by being directly driven by the actions of its audience. Chose your own adventure type books and interactive movies have tried to achieve this to varying success but are held back by being limited to set outcomes.

Character death has been traditionally a big deal. When the protagonist dies, it is a monumental moment that often marks the end of the narrative. It is emotional and it has meaning. Games are the first medium where death just happens. Sure, narrative death in games holds true to its movie and book counterparts but mechanical death is treated in a very different way.

In early games, death was there as a fail state. The player lost and couldn’t experience the full game. Since each attempt meant another coin into the arcade machine, failure and death were a very common thing. Continue reading

Loot Boxes in Shadow of War

God Damn it, Warner Brothers Games. How many times do we have to watch the triple A gaming industry try to shoot itself in the feet to try and bleed out more cash from its customers? How many bad business practices and anti-consumer moves do we have to see before enough is enough. Will it ever be enough? Increasingly I doubt it.

*sigh* So, the incident that has sparked this is the announcement that WB Games will be adding loot boxes to Shadow of War. Loot boxes are shady enough at the best of times, but for a single player game that is full retail price and has paid DLC, it is simply shameless. Continue reading

Great games to play with non-gamers (that isn’t Nintendo).

Gaming is increasingly becoming a more mainstream hobby but there are still those who, for whatever reason, don’t play games. Maybe you want to involve family members in your passion, kill time with a non-gaming friend or introduce a romantic interest into your world. With so many games out there, which are the best for introducing new players to games while being enjoyable for all parties involved?

I am only including multi-platform games here. All of them will also be focused on local play too rather than online. Continue reading

Bethesda’s Creation Club – Are paid mods the future?

As a struggling writer pumping hours of hard work and passion into my craft, I can certainly understand wanting to get paid for that effort. I don’t think there is anyone out there who doesn’t think that certain game modders release work to a high standard. Many games are near unplayable without mod patches while other games are given a wealth of post release content, often offering a better experience than what the developers managed, that keeps a game’s community thriving for years.

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Yet the topic of paying mod creators never fails to put people on edge. We can all remember the catastrophe that marked Bethesda’s fist attempt at monetising mods. In a rare win for consumers, two giant corporations backed down on making easy money due to how unpopular and flawed the system was. But now Bethesda has cut out Steam and is back for a second attempt. Continue reading

Dark Souls 2 – Is it really a souls game?

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Dark Souls 2 is an interesting game. It was the first ‘main-steam’ Souls game to release after DS1 rose to become a beloved title after its launch. Initially there was a consensus that it was a letdown. Now though the tide has turned and a large section of the fanbase will crucify anyone that criticises the game. I’ve watched Youtube videos that analyse the game with massive dislike bars just for explaining why they felt that it didn’t live up to its reputation while much of that fan hate has turned to Dark Souls 3.

I am a big fan of the original Dark Souls. It easily tops my list of favourite games. As such I was very excited to play the sequel. I didn’t expect it to quite live up to the first because, how could it? DS1 is like lightning in a bottle. The planets aligned and a damn near perfect game was released. The chances of another game living up to that was slim so I tempered my expectation. Hype is a gamer’s worst enemy after all. Continue reading