Activision’s Microtransaction Patent
It’s quite interesting to see the player outrage over this one piling up on the recent outrage on the whole turning stuff into “games as service” such as EA shutting down Viscereal Games, the makers of Dead Space, after there too also slowly transforming the IP from a cool experience into a micro-transaction shop. Here’s an even more upset commentator on the subject
What i find ironically funny and a little tragic about it is that we see here both motivated improvements of experiences for the players as well as the less desirable shifting of incentives and even a touch of the kinds of behaviors usually reserved to states in finding new and inventive ways of milking their tax people. And like with them I’d predict they’ll get through with it despite the outrage, but like with them I expect they’ll discover a lot of the unintended side effects of central planning, ways it will backfire and like there there’s gonna be a lot of “patching of loopholes” which might fix some things but might break even more things, or more likely not break but rather tie everything down in a net of hard to follow twisted cause and effects.
In the meanwhile i’ll try to further hide behind my singleplayer hat. Will there still be space in this brave new world for singleplayer stories without catches? The Visceral Games experience with the killing of a singleplayer star wars story game suggests less. But maybe new studios will spring up to fill this desire of the audience as the old ones shift towards the bigger money… because as long as people will be willing to pay for these micro-transactions, well… they’ll be around. What that patent does (as far as I understand it) would indeed increase the pleasure of the experience of the purchasers. Which again makes me think that this whole thing is simply a way to raise the prices, because to those willing to pay more (pre-orders, micro-transactions, late buyers of bundles) the overall experience might actually get improved in the manipulative way in which games have always done, by design aiming to create artificial worlds to give a feeling of achievement by buying the products. And I don’t mean this part as a bad thing… that’s why we buy/enjoy them. Then maybe the question is just one of price… and here, with some knowledge about economics and world history, I have to wonder how much of this increase in price is the normal and expected desire of the game makers to make more, and how much is their attempt to get the same even as the different governments burden them with new taxes and regulations and possibly in the meanwhile dilute the value of “the same amount of money”. In this second case this could mean they’re simply trying to preserve a similar purchasing power as they used to have, but they’re indirectly forced by those in power to do it in such sneaky ways. This would fit very well with inflationary universal experiences across countries and history of the general bad-will of everybody condemning everybody else and hating/being suspicious of the others as the binding trust of societies is slowly eroded with the erosion of the value of their currencies/freedoms. In this case it would be no different with micro-transactions than the classic “bag of chips got shrunk with price staying the same, or bag of chips stayed the same time, but customers realize that a) it’s got more air to product b) it’s using lower quality ingredients”, like the shift from steak to hamburger meat inflation measurers have been switching to. Should this be the case i’d expect more and more of such stories, more and more popular outrage even as this shift keeps going on due to bigger forces.