Has Free to Play influenced the design choices of games too much?

I have given a lot of attention as of the last year/year and half to free to play games. Almost all of these games have some type of online component intended to keep you around so they can get whatever hooks into you as possible to get you to engage in the micro transaction section of the game.

An entire years worth of debating could be had over the pricing models and just how the micro transaction stuff in free to play games has influenced the industry as a whole. Particularly how disguising it can be in certain cases (See: Marvel Heroes) but that isn't what I'm here to discuss.

I have noticed a tend that I would like to think is a concern that continues to grow as free to play games become more of the model for a lot of games. That trend is the design choices that allow free to play games to operate in a way that pushes people to spend their money on them. That trend is barriers, walls, and general game punishment for your time investment. I have noticed this trend grow to other games, such as Dead Space 3 as an example. But other non free to play games like Guild Wars 2 or even Assassin Creed 3 have developed these game strategies at some point. As we enter the next generation it seems to be even affecting the nature of how the big companies like Microsoft are using it for using their console.

First of all, I want to ask the question...at what point did it become a crime to enjoy content? If your kind of in the dark to what really the problem I'm talking about then I'll explain. In a lot of games now we are asked to play the content the way they want us to play the content or not play it at all. I don't mean just linear. Fail states in AC 3 if you don't do the mission the way they want you to do it. Level barriers in RPG's to ensure you don't go ahead in areas and force you to grind out their content. Limiting your abilities and then flashing the big "micro transaction to make this better" button to try and mil you for your dollar. Hell even with Microsoft and their new console with the rumors of installing games to the hard drive for DRM, online every x amount of hours and have to have Kinect plugged in. Again, it all speaks to the "this is our product and you will only be allowed to use it thew way we want you to use it."

Why does this exist? Why do we the gamer community let this exist? It is about more than just consumer rights as well. I have always struggled with how the entertainment industry, whether it is movies or games or even music to an extent seems exempt from other business philosophies of the consumer comes first. I mean if you look at other areas of business, even say tablets or phones....user bases complain and clamor for features in their devices and they get them. The focus in almost every other set up is to create a product that the consumer wants and continue to give them what they want without any barriers.

Yet with games particularly lately we are shown various things we like and then told we have to do this and this and this to get to the content that we like. Anyway I've ranted here enough. What do you guys think of this issue? Do you see it persisting and becoming a more popular thing as the next generation of games comes in? What if anything can we the gamer community do to try to fight this issue?



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I agree. It's something I have seen more and more often and it makes me sad when I see so much of the gaming community just shrug and say "Well then don't play it" instead of getting mad about it and letting the problem spread. One thing I have realized after my many years as a gamer trying to fight against terrible trends in this industry is that there's really nothing we can do to stop things like this. No matter how many people stand up and stop supporting games that nickel and dime content there's always going to be a larger group of people that are either too dumb, not well enough informed to know why they shouldn't support something, or people that truly just don't care enough to outweigh the few of us that would stand up and say no. So we get drowned out. It only takes a very small percent of people who actually buy that stuff to make up the difference for the few thousand of us that never buy the game.

Just look at any thread or news article about the latest game to nickle and dime content through pre-order bonuses like the Arkham games, Metro, or Sim City. There is nothing but page upon page of people saying how much they hate what the developers are doing by cutting content or designing aspects of the game around this cut mission content. But then those same people either end up buying it anyway or enough people just buy it as DLC a day or two after that the few people who actually say no we don't want that and don't buy it don't make a difference to the developers because they get the same amount of money.

So ya, I hope you love nickle and diming microtransactions, having half the game locked behind paywalls, getting a game only to then need to pay the same amount all over again to get the other half of the game and so on because it's only going to get worse from here and there's nothing we can do about it. If we actually wanted to see a difference then we would need some sort of figurehead that the gaming community could actually rally behind. We would need some group or organization to get tens of thousands, if not hundreds, of people who were actually going to buy a game to not buy it. We need to have a game sell millions of dollars less than what it would have if they hadn't have include those things and we need the group to be strong enough that they followed through and did this every time someone announced that they were doing this with a game. If the mere mention of these things could enact the wrath of a group of people large enough to start a smear campaign against a game all across the internet so that there was not a single good word spread about it then maybe we would see change. Until then, nothing is going to change and it's only going to get worse.

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Edited By Slag

@devise22: I dunno man. How is F2P really any different than the Arcades of old?

I much prefer console games of just buy it and you get the whole game (mostly), but it's not like F2P is an invalid way to pay for a game or sell it. Arcades would try to get you hooked and milk you for everything you had one quarter at a time.

There were definitely whales back in the arcade days too. I've probably dropped way more than 60 bucks in my life on games like Ms Pacman or Street Fighter II. I don't feel cheated at all by that.

What I don't like is the combination of both styles. I don't want to pay 60 bucks AND get nickel and dimed.