Paying for Video Games Doesn’t End with the Purchase Price

Manufacturers should stop incentivizing gamers to spend in-game


Colby Brown, Opinion Editor

The video game industry has been surrounded by controversy from the outside due to the many concerns of parents and of health. But there are many concerns in the industry itself mainly lying in the types of monetization schemes implemented by video game publishers.

These schemes have been known to be close to or flat out being scams with how they treat their consumers. The monetization schemes include the famous loot boxes, microtransactions, and paid downloadable content (DLC). These kinds of business practices cannot be allowed to continue.

An important question to be answered is where did these business practices originate from? The answer is simple: mobile games and free-to-play games. In order to monetize these games, mobile game developers would implement microtransactions to make money, since their consumers did not purchase the game with money.

Instead, they were enticed to pay for advantages in-game and save time in the game that they have already become invested in. We have seen famous examples of this in Clash of Clans and Candy Crush. Soon after, game publishers saw dollar signs and began to implement microtransactions, loot-boxes and in-game economies into their already fully priced games.

Loot boxes were mainly popularized in the game Overwatch, which featured loot boxes that allowed consumers to purchase a random chance to get cosmetic items like character costumes. While these don’t provide in-game benefits, the cosmetics are highly valuable to players and encourage them to purchase the loot boxes.

This was a huge success for Overwatch, and other companies saw the monetary opportunities developing with Overwatch’s success. These companies just keep getting more and more greedy with the way they publish and develop their games.

Now, the issue at hand is not only the greediness of game economies and DLC, but the problems loot boxes bring to younger people. A lot of children play games they should probably not be playing, and there are loot boxes and game economies even in games appropriate to children, allowing kids to essentially gamble far below the legal gambling age, some examples being Clash Royale and Star Wars Battlefront II.

The point of the gambling restriction based on age is so that only logical adults with the proper capacity to think things through can decide if gambling that money is a wise choice. A child would throw countless dollars to get what he or she wants because their brains haven’t developed enough to spend their money wisely.

There have been numerous reports where children playing games with their parents’ credit cards have dumped thousands of dollars unnoticed into games without their consent. Now yes, some of that is poor parenting, but those systems should not be allowed near children in the first place. These companies should not be allowed to target kids like this.

Many loot box and microtransactions are also rigged and extremely overpriced to the point where you either have to pay or spend hours to unlock the items you want. The incentiviser for loot boxes mainly comes from a few things. 1) The idea that you can get what you want early by just paying instead of playing the game. 2) The rush you get from gambling your money and pulling off a big score. 3) If you enjoy a game, you are more inclined to spend money on it for advantages and items so you can continue your enjoyment of said game.

Game publishers know this, and they manipulate people’s purchases with this knowledge. One of the most famous examples of loot boxes was with Star Wars Battlefront II, where they implemented loot boxes with ridiculous grind times to unlock everything.

A redditor did the math when the game first came out, and to unlock all the items in the game you would have to play for 4,528 hours, or pay $2,100 to unlock everything!  That is unacceptable! This is just one example of the many broken systems that have been implemented into games because of a publishers’ greed for more money because $60 just isn’t enough anymore.

The most egregious example of a publisher who does this is EA: voted worst company in America several different years.  For years, they have been screwing over their consumers with the kind of games and systems they implement into their games.

These games have some of the worst cases of microtransactions, and many people keep paying thousands of dollars individually, year after year.

EA has also slowly been introducing more and more of the business practices found in their sports titles like microtransactions into other games. The developers are often rushed to make their games, and forced to put more monetization systems within them. If developers try to take more time, EA will shut them down and find a development team who will obey.

EA are the vampires of the video game industry. They find talented development studios, buy them out, and suck them dry. They have destroyed 11 game studios, and many more are on their chopping block because if you disobey EA and want to keep the best interests of your consumer, say goodbye to your job.

Publishers cannot keep getting away with their greedy monetization systems because it only keeps getting worse. If we don’t push back on them, they will run rampant with greed and destroy the video game industry from the inside, ruining what I and many other people enjoy doing as our favorite hobby.