Are Games Becoming Too Monetised

Don't know if anyone else has seen the outrage that seemed to be caused by the devs for The Callisto Protocol announcing that they are planning to release a paid DLC that adds "extra death animations" (along with other expansion content). Many gamers are arguing that content like that should be a part of the core game experience that you already paid for and should not be locked behind a paywall after having already purchased the game. The devs argue that it is additional work done by the programmers/designers beyond what was initially intended for the main game and that that work should be paid extra for and should be treated as is if it was an optional cosmetic skin that does not affect gameplay just like any other cosmetic skin microtransaction you would see in Fortnight for example.

I feel a bit torn as I'm all for supporting game designers work and can see the devs point of view that it is an expansion to the main game and that extra work should be paid for by those that choose to buy that expansion and those who don't buy it still get the core game experience as they intended.

But on the other hand the main game isn't even out yet and sounds a bit like content that should/could have been in the core game and that you are essentially buying access to only part of a game only to have to pay to unlock the rest of the game. Games already feel like they are becoming more of a subscription service to play. You no longer 'own' the game, often it is tied to the game company's online service to activate and if one day they choose to no longer support the game then boohoo you just can't play it anymore. And often games are being released long before they are ready and inevitably have to be patched extensively after launch (sometimes just to get the game to work) but at least those are free. Games are also becoming bogged down with loot boxes, microtransactions, season passes, pre-order bonuses etc. but a least most of those are purely cosmetic in nature.

I'm worried that going down this road will lead to games being compartmentalised into versions dependant on how much extra you are willing to pay and the experience you have could be different to someone else's just because they threw more money at it; a bit like when companies like Tesla and BMW sold electric cars that have heated seats or high capacity batteries already built in but they locked the ability to use those features behind arbitrary paywalls so you have to pay extra to unlock them even though they are already installed in your car that you already paid for.

Interested what others think.  Am I just getting old and this is the future of gaming? Will games, gamers and studios all benefit from this model? Or is it just greedy game publishers trying to milk more out of your wallet and gamers should protest to end this madness?

  • Definitely a massive issue, we see games with potential being brought down somewhat by monetisation, Halo Infinite being a big one

  • I think a big part of the problem is the willingness to purchase games that aren't finished. I don't mean indie games that need backing, but too many companies seem to pump out unfinished, buggy games at full price and we gamers are the ones who aren't getting value for money. A game that demands users pay for a feature that should have been included for free seems like an extension of this. I just won't pay for a game on release day anymore because it's nothing but frustration for me when you pay a lot of money for a game that doesn't work properly. Perhaps it's time to "vote with our wallets".

  • I think you make a valid point, but as some other commenters have mentioned, these kind of DLC need to be separated and categorized. Expansion packs have been around for a very long time (I remember buying some of them on CDs - Opposing Force for Half-Life, for example, if I remember correctly), and I don't think they are problematic at all. Adding extra units, heroes, or campaigns for games that already have solid base content is pretty standard.

    Skins, animations, and other cosmetics are a completely different ballgame. My take on that is that there's no issue if people actually want to pay for them. I mean, I think it's pretty ridiculous to pay extra for some skins, but if you really like a game, maybe it's just more of a "I want to support this game" or more likely, that you want something to set your character apart in multiplayer. Either way, as long as it's very clear that it is for sale as a cosmetic-only pack, it's fine. Those things take minimal effort for developers and give them extra cash for games that some players clearly enjoy, for whatever reason.

    The worst thing that can happen is something that others also brought up, and that is when developers release DLC that should be part of the base game. Sometimes it seems like they release the game in stages on purpose just to milk more money out of this. The best (meaning: the worst) example of this is Creative Assembly and the Total War: Warhammer games. Why should entire armies and campaigns not be playable unless you buy the DLCs? They're in the same world... it just doesn't make sense. I find that incredibly frustrating and personally, I will just wait for years until the game goes on sale with an edition that includes all the DLCs, because I am definitely not paying as I go. It's extortion.

  • well it works better for them, much better (much more money earned). That old school gamers or poor gamers can't afford that kind of gaming anymore or don't want to support such practices doesn't matter. Either you go along or stay away from it. Ames have been less and less fun over the last few years in particular for me... with only a few exceptions and those were all indie games without insane monetization schemes.

    It's okay... if there are no new games for me in the future, I'll just play older games again :)

  • Some games are too monetized for sure. And the overall industry trend is going down that road.

    I don't like it personally, but I also see the reasons why have we come to this. Making an AAA game today is far more expensive than it was 10+ years ago. Gamer expectations are high so more and more money has to be put into development.. Nowadays, unless it's an indie gem, a game won't sell well without expensive marketing either. So when we add all that up, making games today is very expensive so some extra money has to come from somewhere. Monetization is one way of doing it, even though many go to extremes with it too.

  • Yeah the AAA's must cost a fortune to make and are a lot of hard work. And fan expectations are very high. Feels like a weird merge between gaming and movie experiences. The big film studios can easily burn $millions on trying to make a movie a success; games are starting to have the same blockbuster expectations but without the blockbuster budget and staffing.

  • Yes they are, DLC can be stupidly expensive but also when a new game starts from £69.99 like the latest NFS it will undoubtedly push people away from release day purchasing. Everyone with patience and common sense will wait for the massive discounts in a few years time

  • It's the sad reality, game development cost increases while game prices only go up a bit. Most devs/publisher try to get the money through dlc/season passes or battle passes nowadays and justify it by calling it a "game as a service"

  • I feel like some games focus more on events to get money from them than focusing on the game, and DLCs for many games are too expensive