Today’s Topic: Free to Play Games & Microtransactions

Nothing good is free in this world, right? Well, except maybe air, but with the way we treat the Earth we’re gonna be paying for it soon enough. However, there are some ‘good’ things that are free, video games! Free to play games are a broad umbrella, there are many different types. Some, online sensations, like Team Fortress 2 (In which I shamelessly have 1800 hours or so) or Dota 2.

Obviously free games need to make money somehow. Entering the world of Microtransactions!

Oh boy here we go.

Some games handle them gracefully, like Warframe, Path of Exile, or Tf2. You can complete the game, have fun, and be just as good as players that buy into the game. However, the dark side of microtransactions, the mobile games, the Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, everywhere… mortifying… What are these games doing wrong? Well, nothing from the perspective of the developers. Generally, mobile games are designed not to be fun, but to be habit forming. You get so far, but because of timers / limited resources you have to stop. So you wait for the timers to tick down, and your resources to build up, and so the cycle continues, until eventually you’re addicted. Or, you can buy currency! Even if you only buy $5 worth of stuff in all your time playing, the developers succeeded in their job. The games are designed to get you to pay money, which is why we’ve coined the terms like Pay 2 Win, Freemium, etc.

Before moving on, let’s look at the most infamous example. Dungeon Keeper. Dungeon Keeper is an old, old game where you build and maintain dungeons. You need to carve out the ground to build, a basic game mechanic that should not take too long. EA, our ‘favorite’ game company decided to release a new version of Dungeon Keeper on the app store! Yay! Oh wait, it take 24 hours to break a single tile. Imagine playing Minecraft, or some other game of the sort where every block broken or placed took 12 hours. Unless you buy our EA Moneyz(tm)! You can see why most gamers hate microtransactions and big publishers, but it’s not all bad.

Many games that cost money feature microtransactions too, shockingly. Elite Dangerous, a personal favorite of mine (I bought a HOTAS to play with it!) has microtransactions. They are all cheap, and exclusively cosmetic, so that’s a-ok. Path of Exile, a free game also has cosmetic only microtransactions. But games with reasonable microtransactions built their success off of being a fun game, and gathering a lot of players, as opposed to the freemium phone games, which I hate. Nothing makes my blood boil more than to see someone invest a lot of time and money into those games, but it’s their time and money, not mine.

I think i’ve written enough, I need to go vent my anger by playing some of my favorite free games now.

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