Microtransactions in console games? Aw what the crap.

Dead_Space_moneyI 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.

THE FUCK?

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…”

[Eurogamer via Kotaku]

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2011 – Games of the Year

In descending order:

10. Mass Effect 2 (PS3) – No Xbox 360 for me, so I’ve had to wait & listen (& listen) to everyone tell me how amazing the Mass Effect series is.  Once I was finally able to get my hands on it, I was definitely impressed.  The “choices matter” mantra intrigued me & while I definitely planned to go back through to complete all the choice cycles, other games ended up pulling me away.  I would’ve liked to have the option for a “good” and an “evil” version of Shepard heading into ME3.

9. Words With Friends (iOS) – just in terms of time spent playing. Though the words it does allow (sith) and doesn’t not allow (fuck) is suspect at best. The ads drove me berserk and eventually I coughed up the $.99 worth of blood money. Bastards.

8. Tiny Tower (iOS) – Another time suck that is simple but keeps me playing. I’m at 99 floors and counting; the hooks are simple but dammit, they are firmly in place. Plus I finally got a Mapple store.  Mybooks all around!

7. Guerilla: Red Faction (PS3) – I know, I know, it didn’t come out this year.  But this was the year I played it so it’s a 2011 game, dammit. Pure, unadulterated wrecking delight. A next-next-next gen version of my beloved Wrecking Crew for the NES. I want to smash everything with a sledgehammer.  Too bad about the sequel.

6. inFamous 2: I ended up cajoling a friend to drive me out to Forest Hills to buy a street-date broken copy of this from some kid standing out in the street; thanks Craigslist! The story was a fairly natural continuation of the first game though in places it felt almost the same.  The high point of the game for me was the actually pretty touching scene where Cole & Zeke, up on their rooftop hideout, complete with ragged sofa, silently share a couple (dozen) beers & watch TV.  It really conveyed the deep sense of friendship & brotherhood the two shared and illustrated how a meaningful look, a clink of beer bottles or a laugh or two can convey as much as any conversation.

5. Uncharted 3: Best of the series so far, though the ending (SPOILERS) is way too close to the ending of Uncharted 2 for my liking. Bonus for eliciting a “Now this looks like something I’d play” from my girlfriend.  Drake is still clearly a murdering psychopath but his properly keffiyeh gives him a pass, I guess.

4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: The single player is less laughable than the ridiculous MW2 though not as interesting or compelling as Black Ops; the multi-player is a tweaked and seemingly more balanced version of MW2’s madness.  It all boils down to a game of tag with guns, yet every time I pick it up, 6 hours vanish.  Bonus points for suckering me into buying Elite when, it was first introduced, I swore up and down I would never pay for it. ACTIVISION (shakes fist) !!!!

3. Arkham City: The sequel to the best Batman game since Sunsoft’s NES Batman . Despite the maddening aerial challenges, this game was note perfect.  The Iceberg Lounge portion with the ice & the shark? Terrifying.

2. Skyrim: My first introduction to the Elder Scrolls; this became my one & only focus from early November when it was released right up until Christmas.  I would love to start over, now that I know how the game world works as well as what choices I should have/could have made in terms of character creation.  But that would involve me quitting my job and until someone want’s to pay me to game for a living, I don’t see that happening.  BoneSmasher the Dark Elf will have NO siblings in Tamriel for the time being; only his distant cousin, Fly Ricky the Wine Taster, from the Capital Wastelands in the far distant future.

1. Saints Row the Third:I loved Skyrim; hell, I STILL love Skyrim. But Skyrim feels like a job; Saints Row the Third feels like a vacation. From the early penthouse invasion mission which beings by parachuting out of a plane then running & gunning through a lavish party full of gangsters and strippers set to Kanye West’s “Power” (gave me goosebumps; the perfect song for that mission) to the first time I stole a plane (and immediately crashed into the ground) to chainsawing luchadores to hitting random pedestrians with float over DDTs, I loved everything about SRtT. It’s just pure…id. Anxiously awaiting whatever DLC gets released for the game; I can’t wait to revisit Steelport.