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Pay to Win?

Let me outline a scenario:  you just purchased (or rented) a new game that promises hours and hours of entertainment.  The game isn’t specifically easy, but it’s not prohibitively hard, either.  You play for a little while and enjoy the game.  Then you notice there is new content you can buy.  What is it?  It’s a special “pack” of items specifically designed to majorly power up your character.  For just a few bucks you can leap over hours and hours of gaming and have a fully powered up character.  Do you do it?  Is it a good thing that the publishers of the game even offer this option?

Personally I say no to the first, and…I don’t know to the second.  This is something that is being talked about more and more lately in the realm of video games, i.e. downloadable packs that you can buy to essentially cheat.  Except it’s not cheating, since everyone can do it…right?  But the developers of the game would really prefer you play it through the way they intended…right?

I’ve heard different reasons and such on both sides of the issue.  On one hand, there are gamers who think this is ruining the true experience of the game, and blame the publishers for being money grubbing bastards.  They also don’t like that (especially where multiplayer is concerned) that someone can just buy there way to the top.  On the other hand, I’ve heard the argument that some gamers just don’t have the time to put 10-50 hours into a game, or that they just want the story of the game and not have to deal with “powering up”.

I do have to agree a bit with each side.  I do think publishers are trying to get every dollar they can out of gamers, and I don’t think buying your way to the top sends a good message to the game developers who put a lot of time and effort into building a experience.  However, I’ve seen the statistics:  for many games out there, the majority of players willnot play the game to the end.  Some don’t even get half way.  If you are curious, the statisticians are using the achievement/trophy system that can be found in most games for the past several years to track these numbers, so they should be pretty accurate.  Yeah, maybe a game developer would rather you play it like they made it, but maybe they would rather you at least get to see the story through to the end than not?

I can also respect that some people don’t have a lot of time to play games, but who are interested in the story.  However, without the experience of building your character up and overcoming obstacles, you are just playing a very expensive interactive movie.  Price can vary greatly, but the game in question above currently costs $50-$60 depending on which platform you buy it for.  If you buy the extra packs, you’ve spent even more money but will get less out of the game.  Instead of 30 hours to complete, it may only take you 5.  I guess if you want to spend your money that way, then fine.

So, yeah.  No easy answer.  I’m interested to see how this all will play out over time.

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