Are Video Games getting easier? Also Microtransactions Update!

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There has been a long-standing argument that video games are getting easier to appeal to younger players. You often hear older players complain that they didn’t have it as easy when they were growing up. And with the recent release of Crash Bandicoot: The N’sane Trilogy, social media has been talking about the level of difficulty that game and games even before it. So the question remains, are video games getting easier?

What’s changed?

Mechanically, games function a lot better for the most part. I recently re played Banjo Kazooie and the swimming mechanic made me nearly launch my controller at the wall. Games run a lot smoother which can create the illusion that a game is easier to play. Look at any Ubisoft open world game. Despite what you make of them as games, they do run quite smooth mechanically (usually anyway, Assassin’s Creed Unity and floors with more holes than Swiss Cheese withstanding). Now I loved games like Crash Bandicoot and Banjo Kazooie, but the 3D technology was fairly new at the time, so there were going be some issues.

Are the players just getting better?

With the rise in online gaming and E-Sports over the past decade, its safe to say the skill level in video games has risen exponentially. With the help of YouTube tutorials, walkthroughs and game guides, every average player can learn to get better at a game. This compared to the PS2, SNES and NES era, where you could buy strategy guides and the average player was only the champion among your friend groups.

And Finally…

Are Games getting easier?

No, games are getting better mechanically along with a higher skill levelled player base. This creates the illusion of an easier game. In some cases, they are actually becoming harder (Demon/Dark Souls started this trend and it can royally go fuck it self). Explaining why some people find Crash Bandicoot so difficult is simple, your reactions are slower than when you first played it and the mechanics are ever so slightly outdated.

Now an update on Microtransactions and how EA has managed to make me look like a complete tool.

As all 5 of you know, I’ve been singing the praises of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s DLC system since its announcement. However in a interview with Gamespot  Design Director Niklas Fegraeus said:

When you want to progress and get stuff, you can either play the game and when you play you earn the in-game currency, and with that you can spend towards whatever you want. If you want to accelerate that, if you can’t play for a week, you can purchase that.’

Essentially, you can accelerate progress and get better stuff by paying for it. This is, bluntly put, fucking stupid. The system will no doubt be exploited by people, and kinda makes the game pay to win. This is not the way to do microtansactions and I hope EA changes their minds about this.

Edit: Turns out EA has been using this accelerator type thing in the Battlefield franchise for some time, so I guess long term it’s not an issue.

 

Are Microtransactions in AAA games really a bad thing?

I’ll be going into hiding after this one.

Microtransactions have become a mainstay in the AAA games industry as of late. Despite major criticism from customers online, they don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Why is that? Why do the get so much Criticism? What could publishers do to reduce criticism? What is the future for them? Are they really as bad as we think?

Quick Note: I see microtransactions in a free to play game as fair game as long as the items available can be obtained without having to buy them. Those games have got to make money too.

Why do Microtransactions get so much criticism?

There are a number of reasons why microtransactions get more flak than Trump in California these days. The most obvious reason being the fact that, after already paying $60 for a game, publishers expect us to fork out more money to unlock any of the cool items in game like skins, camo’s, in-game items, guns, voice over packs and even Flag packs (Really Activision, Really?). The other issue is the ‘game-breaking’ nature of some. Take Fifa as an example, you spend your money on what is essentially a wheel spin to get maybe a half decent player you can either use or sell on the in-game market for coins to buy another player you wanted. Now, you can ‘grind’ to get the coins to buy these players by playing games, but if you did that, the next game would be out by the time you got near the coin amount of the top players on the game (The introduction of FUT Champs went halfway to solving this problem). Despite all of this, isn’t it a little bit stupid that what players you get is essentially a random spin of a wheel? The points to open these packs are’t cheap either. 12,000 of them will set you back a cool £80 (£72 with EA/ Origin Access), and odds are you won’t make that back in terms of coin value or players ‘packed’.

Why are Microtransactions not going anywhere?

The short answer is money. Games like Battlefield and Call Of Duty make far too much money out of them. Activision made over $1 billion dollars last year alone in microtransactions in Call Of Duty, Overwatch and World Of Warcraft. From a business standpoint, you’d be stupid not to implement them in your games. Now, I am using Activision as the scapegoat here, purely because as a COD player for many years, it’s easier for me to explain the point I’m trying to make. However, EA, Ubisoft and soon to be Bethesda (it’s paid mods and I won’t hear otherwise Pete Hines) are all guilty for this too. And for the most part, in the publisher’s eyes anyway, these things aren’t affecting the game anyway as most are just cosmetic items (seriously if you put game changing items behind a random paywall with no other way to obtain them then you really are a pile of shit).

How can publishers make the system better?

There is a few things publishers can do to make microtransactions better for there audience as more of a goodwill gesture to customers. Publishers could take a similar approach to Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive, by making in-game items worth real life money. However, if you wanted to avoid that legal minefield, make it an in game fake currency which you can exchange for other items in game that were perhaps more sought after. Another approach is making all other DLC free like Halo 5 and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 (as previously mentioned in the Call of Duty Conundrum). This method also would keep more players interested as you aren’t splitting them into groups of have and have not. In an ideal world, both systems would be used but if I had to pick one it would be making all other DLC items free.

What’s the future?

Simply put, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Microtransactions make far too much money for any business to sacrifice for the sake of a few complaints. At what level they are integrated depends. I can’t see it going full free to play crappy mobile game but I see perhaps more detailed micro-transactions in future releases. I hope players can still grind and unlock these items without having to buy them.

And Finally…

Are Microtransactions all that bad?

In their current format, yes. But, with a few tweaks to the system and some general goodwill toward the consumer from the publishers, I think microtransactions can and will (s/o to Roman Reigns) be accepted by the majority of players worldwide.