Remember the days when you would spend hours and hours building a single character in an MMO, trying your best to min/max all of those little stats to win a few duels, or to just survive long enough to turn the tides in battle?
Remember the feeling of getting that super-mega-awesome sword from some jungle temple after over a month of farming the place, and once you put it on and walked through town, you got that first whisper: "Dude, where did you get that???"
Unfortunately, those days are over. With the coming flood of what could only be considered as vapor-ware, game developers, and publishers are showing they are no longer worried about the long term success of their games. They simply want the money grab.
This is becoming ever so apparent with Bioware's ME3 disaster, as well as the quick pace of SWTOR's leveling system. (Seriously, did anyone even notice it rush by?)
Not to mention the upcoming financial models of some MMOs. For instance, Funcom's The Secret World's current financial set up screams, "This game will die. Please buy a lifetime sub so we make more money before it goes free-to-play." The fact that they are offering lifetime sub packages, as well as preorders, before a decent amount of game footage should be a red flag.
Maybe I'm being paranoid. But I sure as hell have earned a little paranoia with the amount of garbage the gaming industry has been producing lately.
Now, I'm most definitely a Blizzard fan-boy. I grew up playing those games, and loved EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. of it. But I firmly believe they slowly ruined the genre. Over time, WoW has grown easier, quicker, and just downright un-mmo-esque. There is no "epic feeling" when it comes to epics. They're just purples. Who cares? Not I.
Blizzard may have been the tip of the scales for the downfall, but they haven't stopped the plummet.
Diablo 3's real-money auction house is another masked attempted to nickel and dime the customers. They swear up and down that it is a better model than players going out and spending money on third party sites. But here is the question that should be asked: If these players want to spend real life money on their accounts, don't they deserve the risk of being hacked, as well as their credit card numbers stolen? It's cheating. Plain and simple. You spend outside resources to increase your in-game resources. It's the same damn thing as entering a cheat code you learned from an outside source into the game. Blizzard is just learning to make a little cash in the process of the cheating, and in essence, condoning it.
Apart from the obvious pay-to-win models, even the cosmetic money-bought items need some rethinking. Part of the point in playing a game is to make your character look as bad-ass as he/she can be. I'm a sucker for awesome looking gear, and I feel like a difficult fight, or even hours and hours of farming for a piece of awesome looking gear, (even for a damn social tab) is part of what makes an MMO great. So why can players just cheat a major part of the game for 5 bucks and look awesome immediately upon enter the game? (Huh, Anarchy Online?)
It seems like I've mainly just attacked two companies. (Funcom, and Blizzard). But other companies are not immune. PLEX in Eve, hats/weapons/items in Team Fortress 2, character skins in League of Legends, weapons/skins in Bloodline Champions, the "gem" system in Guild Wars 2: It's all the same. Each time you spend outside money on anything other than a box fee or subscription fee, you're taking a major part of the experience out of the game.
Who is to blame, though? Though I think some of the blame is placed upon the companies for a lack of artistry in their games, the truth is that WE are to blame. We spend the money, we tell them it's ok to nickel and dime us, and they continue to see how far we will go.
What can we do?
Stop paying for stuff that should be included in the games to begin with.
Boycott games with financial models that are obvious money grabs,
And expect more out of these companies.
Yea, I get it, the economy sucks, whatever. But for Christ’s sake, what ever happened to games made for art, and not ONLY for a profit? I would gladly pay a sub fee and even a box fee for a game that is honest about their product, and legitimately tries to make a piece of art.
Half of the issues in the game industry could be solved by companies not withholding that their game sucks. If it sucks, say so. Chances are we will still play the damn thing if it has some redeeming quality to it. The problem is, with a money-grab and sneaky advertising that only shows the polished parts of the game, you don't give us gamers a chance to look at it with a critical eye until after you have our money. It probably should be illegal.