Mad Mack: Don’t Buy EA Games, Don’t Engage In Micro-Transactions – And Get Yourself A PC
Well, it certainly has been a busy couple of weeks for the games industry. First, Dead Space 3 decides that it wants to be Aliens. Then Aliens decides that it wants to be ET, and then EA decides it is sick of this whole ‘games’ thing – and proceeds to shit all over its fanbase.
I am actually getting tired of ranting about EA. What more is there to say? Yes, they take beloved franchises and fuck them into an unrecognisable pulp as they frantically try to pull in some of that sweet, sweet COD-esque money. We know that. Yes, they are corporate shills that crap out tie-in games and annual sports updates while at the same time offering less content for more money.
Just look at (for one, tiny example) the Dead Space 3 DLC. It will contain the most harrowing content in the whole series, and given how not-harrowing DS3 is, one cannot help but feel that this should probably have been included in the core game, rather than offered at additional cost. But hey, I have also covered this before. As I say, there is nothing more to say about EA that has not already been said.
So what else is there? Well, as predicted, there is an ever-increasing prevalence of games that will require ‘Always-On’ internet connections, and of course, the publishers will never provide enough server space for everyone who wants to play the game soon after launch, so you see the repeat of the Diablo 3 launch, only this time with Sim City – which just so happens to be an EA game.
In case you are wondering why there will never be enough space, it’s because servers are expensive to set up and maintain, so publishers will not set them up for the player volumes you see at launch, but rather they will plan for the more normal player volume you see a week or two after launch – the sort of volume that is (usually) set at a constant level for the duration of that game’s popularity.
Then there are micro-transactions. These have been at the front of all the discussions lately, again, mostly because of EA stuffing them into Dead Space 3 (apparently in the process disrupting the development as Visceral had to suddenly redesign the game to accommodate universal ammo, instead of the original planned different ammo types) going on the record to state that all their games will have them in the future.
It was put further onto the agenda when ole Cliffy-B stuck his oar in (unnecessarily) on Kotaku (which, remember, is basically the tabloid of games journalism – RockPaperShotgun or Eurogamer is where you should be getting your news) by firstly insulting his fanbase (calling us ‘hipster/boomerang kids’) and then using the cost of living in Seattle as justification for micro-transactions, and then railing against ‘Scumbag EA’ and similar assertions of EA being the Devil.
Well, apart from the fact that he showed himself to be woefully misguided (I am sorry Cliff, but EA is the Devil, you try fucking living in London and hipsters don’t play computer games – they use typewriters and Instagram) – and the fact that he is overlooking all of the things that make EA a fucking terrible company – unfortunately, he made a lot of good points.
Now, if you have not read the original article, then I would implore you to do so, because when other sites report on the content, then some of the message is lost. You do have to labour through the first few paragraphs, where he will liken you to a child molester, before you get to the meat of his argument. You will also have to persevere through some pretty terrible rambling prose. But if you read anything I write then you are probably well able to put up with Cliffy B. You can find the whole article on Kotaku HERE. Go on, we will wait.
The main standout statement for me was Cliff extolling us (as gamers) to vote with our wallets. That’s it. He is actually right about a few things.
Firstly, there are no ‘Free 2 Play’ games out there. At worst, there are the Zynga skinner boxes of Farmville and its ilk, while at the other end there are the entertaining (and not overly punishing) XP or money driven likes of Planetside. But we as gamers don’t really have a problem with a free game actually having some kind of incentivised monetisation – most are mature enough to realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch. So, I am not sure what Cliff’s point is, save perhaps to highlight that games need to make money. So good one there.
He is also spot on to say that EA are not the only people to engage in micro-transactions – many games have had them for a long time, including Team Fortress from Valve or World of Warcraft from Blizzard. In fact, you are already paying a subscription for WoW – imagine the gall of them asking you to pay more money for cosmetic fluff! Of course, he is casually overlooking the fact that both games are possible to enjoy in their fullest without paying for those cosmetic add-ons, because they are just that – totally cosmetic. Unlike the resources you buy in Dead Space 3 that actually impact the game.
I could spend ages explaining how him likening buying Nintendo-branded products as a kid is just like paying for game content that has been denied you, or how as a games developer himself he should in no way be seen as an objective voice in this agreement, but I do want to wrap this up before I shit myself in incandescent rage.
So Cliff is telling us as gamers to vote with our wallets. And I completely agree with him. Don’t buy EA games, don’t engage in micro-transactions and send your money where it will be of use.
What games do EA have anyway? FIFA? Sure, if that is your thing, but if you are the kind of person who buys the latest version every year then you are really not my target audience here.
Battlefield? BF3 was a step change, certainly in console online multiplayer, but will BF4 really be that compelling? Or will it just be more of the same?
Listen to Cliff and just avoid paying for mediocrity. And yes, he is right that you will probably be in the (large) minority of gamers that cares about the decrease in quality of games and the near constant attempts to extort more money from the fans. But unfortunately, the increasing cost of AAA games will mean that the market is going to tend in that direction.
However, there is a chance. We all have a chance. At freedom. Freedom from oppression, from bullshit, from EA. And now, more than ever, we can we break out. With the new console generation upon us, consider this – there is a whole market of games out there where you don’t have to put up with petty, money-grabbing bullshit?
The PC. The PC ecosystem is much less dominated by a small number of AAA gaming titles. They are there of course, but there is so much more out there. And not just generic-indie 2D platformers with quirky artwork. No, there are big budget games doing amazing things that could not be dreamed on consoles. I am entreating you – if you are considering being an early adopter of the new Xbox or PlayStation, please consider a PC as an alternative.
I will not mislead you – they are more expensive. A build-yourself can cost around £800 just for the components, and you can add another £150 (at least) if you do not already own the peripherals.
But the games are a lot cheaper, and you are less of a slave to the kinds of bullshit that are beginning to plague the AAA gaming market. So instead of spending £400-£500 on being the first asshole to own a PS4, save up a bit longer and spend the money on a gaming PC, and you will never look back. Steam is one thing, but what about Good Old Games (GOG) – seemingly endless lists of older games just waiting for you to download and play, for a fraction of the cost of a console game.
Gamers, I implore you – Listen to Cliffy B and buy a PC.