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?

  • Some are monetized way too much, some are still within the acceptable range of monetization. I am fine with paying for something like a large DLC that adds tons of new content to the base game if it is not overpriced. I am also fine with paying for some skins and such cosmetics if they are cheap. But I really hate overpriced loot boxes that have abysmally small chances of getting something good from them, even more so if that something is exclusive to that loot box.

  • Console and PC games are still ok when it comes to monetization. Mobile games are just awful with their aggressive approach using progression walls and extremely high prices. Not to mention how many games utilize psychological approach of making the players addicted to spend more and more.

  • Some games are, especially when the devs decide to crop the original idea and split it into several DLCs that bring little value, just to milk out some money. You can spot these when players give them terrible user reviews.

    Another issue is the miscommunication from the devs, take a look at Borderlands 3 Super Deluxe Edition. At first, it seems like it will include everything the game will have to offer, but we got DLCs that aren't included, and were then offered the "Ultimate Edition" that includes everything. It feels like scam, but it's miscommunication.

    Pay-to-win transactions are abysmal.

    But then there are games which provide real additional content and I have no issues with that. Cosmetics are also great additions for those who want to customize their gameplay.

  • While I do hope that the monetization goes down, atleast in non-F2P games, large companies will most likely keep them in and expand that concept as long as it is deemed profitable. If it gets too outrageous and there is significant backlash, they will trim that aspect down. Example being lootboxes in Shadow of War imo. Those monetary options are often part of FOMO or simply pay to win, leading to a desire by the buyer to consider additional purchases. A product should ideally not include those and if it has to have DLC, it should expand the finished game rather than patch some intentionally left holes. How the future will look like really depends on how both buyer and reviewer handle that in regard to visible outrage.

  • Things that p*** me off about over the top monetisation:

    • Releasing unfinished games and claiming content that was meant to be in the original is "DLC" in order to make people pay more for it.
    • Any content that is worked on before the game releases should be part of the main release. Anything worked on after release is fair game.
    • Loot boxes that have infinite opening possibilities in any form, or are clearly being abused for gambling mechanics.
    • Pay To Win features in any way.
    • Games that you have to buy outright but you can't play single player or offline and have to pay a subscription to be able to access/enjoy the game you already paid £30-70 for. Online-only multiplayer games should either be one-time outright purchases or a subscription, not both.
    • DLC that costs almost as much as or more than the base game but has a fraction of new content compared to the base game.
    • DLC "features" that are actually bug fixes or QOL improvements that the game is unplayable or a much worse experience without - this should be a free patch, not a DLC.
    • Releasing community or third-party made content as DLC or game store items and taking too much of a cut for it.

    Things that I think are legit monetisation:

    • Cosmetics
    • DLC to genuinely extend story or introduce new story and/or features, at reasonable prices compared to the base game and development resources.
    • Loot boxes for cosmetics that (a) have a small finite number of possible rolls (e.g. <16) before someone can obtain all the loot options inside them AND (b) have an alternative option to (reasonably) grind a roll chance instead of having to pay for all of them

    You know what I think developers should do instead of all the bad practice BS monetisation going on? Just add a "Tip your dev" button to your in-game cosmetics store. I mean, if someone has paid full price for your game, you support it well, you treat your players fairly and some people feel that deserves some recognition (and also have the spare money to do so), they can just go and tip the dev to say thanks. And the beauty of that is it doesn't take any extra dev work to force or incentivise people to buy something like creating new cosmetics or DLCs do. Instead of adding BS monetisation "features" that rip people off and ruin the user experience.