Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"Free"

I'm a fan of capitalism. I don't think it's necessarily wrong for a company to want to make a dollar. But these days, especially with the massive role marketing/advertising and social media play in our lives, it feels like there's been a shift. How good a product is seems less important today than how easy it is to sell that product. From a certain point of view, this makes sense; you can't guarantee quality, afterall, but you can guarantee an aggressive, annoying marketing campaign. And from an investor's point of view, the latter is actually more attractive than the former, since the latter can be counted on, and even if the former is available, someone's gotta sell that shit.

Absolutely no where in the world is this clearer to me than in videogames. Two little concepts...DLC and Free-to-Play...have taken some good intentions (more of what you love, play what you want at no cost to you) and paved a road straight to hell with them. Desiging a game used to be about fun. Now it seems, more often than not, desiging a game is akin to creating some kind of money farm to reap maximum profit for minimum work. Games used to be like books; you sit down with one, you enjoy it, you move onto the next one. Now, games are like businesses; you invest time and/or money in the game, you turn a profit (fun) from the game; you invest more to get more, then you walk away when it's no longer profitable (fun). 

Gamers are no longer gamers. Gamers are now customers. Me, personally, I don't like it. I guess I'm a reader, not an investor.

The most insidious part of all of this is how easily defensible it is. "If you don't want it, don't buy it!" "No one's forcing you to pay for anything!" "Play it for free, and if you don't like it, quit at any time!" "There's plenty of content in the basic game!" These lines are so easy to spit up, game companies don't even have to say them: gamers will say them to other gamers who complain. How fucked up is that? 

I miss the Good Ol' Days when customers wanted things as cheap as possible, and companies/corporations wanted to sell them as expensively as they could get away with. Now, the lines have blurred. Some great stuff is free. Some stuff you already paid money for is going to ask you for more money. The lines have blurred, and I'm not entirely certain any of us are better off for it. Well, not us gamers, anyway. 


   
















2 comments: