I got bored long before I finished Mass Effect 2 and Assassin’s Creed II so I never played the “final” installments in either series. Had I done so, Eurogamer informs me, I might have noticed a sinister conspiracy taking shape on my screen. No, not some convoluted Illuminati and/or Illusive Man nonsense. Something seriously nefarious: microtransactions that allow players to skip past grinding and upgrade their gear more easily.
In the crowded mobile gaming market, I get it. With so many zillions of apps, you need to be inventive to successfully monetize. You sneak into a gamer’s pocket with the promise of free-to-play. Once they’re hooked, those innocent looking in-app purchases drain their unsuspecting bank account 99 cents at a time like the Pied Piper of Wallet. I never make in-app purchases but some do and I can’t blame them: if you’re having fun, a few dollars is a fair price to unlock a free-to-play game’s full potential. I’d prefer to know up front how much it’s going to cost me to enjoy a game but whatever, that’s the nature of the beast.
But this shit? You’re already paying a hefty price for console games, and now they’re basically offering to sell you cheat codes to get unlimited in-game supplies if you have sufficient real world coin. This is a slippery fucking slope people.
Deadspace 3 is the latest game to announce such a system. While Visceral Games swears this demonic form of “downloadable content” can’t be used to get the best guns right out of the gate, the game that will allow you to do just that can’t be too far off. After that, I can imagine console and PC games intentionally being made too difficult to be fun without additional money spent on power-ups. “Just a little taste,” they say. “Just this once. It’s only 99 cents, and it’ll feel…so…good…”