So, Electronic Arts (EA) has taken a lot of heat in the past weeks for its decision to go all in on Loot Boxes and Microtransactions. For those not aware, the major controversy in the video game industry right now is the fact than an already (comparatively) expensive hobby like video games where you are expected to pay $60.00 upfront for the product (compare with a movie that is anywhere from 7.99-19.99, a novel that is 9.99-24.99, a season of TV 9.99-39.99, or a streaming subscription, 9.99-14.99, etc.) and then buy “additional” Loot Boxes for the chance of substantially improving your character (or “grinding” for a long time by playing the game in a monotonous way in order to earn the same chance improving one’s character).
Basically, EA is changing the nature of the game (pardon the pun), from playing the game to continually paying for the game (“games as a service”). Unfortunately, not only doesn’t the gaming public like this, EA doesn’t realize this isn’t a sustainable model.
The Economics of Buying a Game
I’m not boycotting EA games, but there tactics make it clear that I can’t support their economics any more–especially after releasing a game that clearly needed more development time: Mass Effect Andromeda.
So, I’m rarely into multiplayer–yes, I’ll sometimes dive into the multiplayer component of a game, but outside of select titles (Burnout Paradise, CoD: Modern Warfare, Destiny, and a select few others, I don’t really dive into the multiplayer components of games for any real length of time. So you can subtract $20.00 from the game value right there. So, a game that EA charges 59.99 for, is really only worth 39.99 to me as I don’t really delve into the multiplayer.
Okay, so now we’re down to 39.99, right? Well, you can subtract another 10.00 for the “grinding” in this “new” system. I buy games for fun and for diversion, not to endlessly “grind” in order to complete the game. So, you’re new system that you put into to make you more money in addition has actually wasted you 10.00 because I want to be engaged, not bored–so now that I know I’m going to be “grinding” and bored, I knock off 10.00 with what I’m willing to pay. Now we’re down to 29.99.
Add to the fact that I have a backlog of games to play and there are more coming out from other publishers that have lessened versions of or no Loot Boxes/Microtransactions altogether and as such, seem like they’re going to be more fun than the current crop of EA games, so now I subtract 10.00 more for the game (I still need to finish incredible games like Metal Gear Solid 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy XV, etc.). Now we’re down to 19.99.
Give us Good Games and We’ll Give You Money
The equation is simple–the publishing (book) industry relies on a stable of good to great authors pumping out books on a consistent basis. You don’t get “gimmicks” such a Loot Crates with Stephen King’s latest novel. You know his books are going to meet a certain level of quality and entertainment value. This is what EA has lost and must get back if they really want to connect with gamers. Otherwise, they are going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs and then where will there shareholders (and their dividends) be?