A recent announcement regarding the Spyro Reignited Trilogy has people canceling their pre-orders in droves. Apparently, games two and three will need to be downloaded and will not be included on the disc, in spite of all three Crash games fitting on one disc in the previous collection. If this were the only instance of anti-consumer practices in the modern game industry, there wouldn’t be that much to talk about here. As it stands, a clash between consumer and corporate interests seems likely and it is unknown what the inevitable fallout will be.
In the case of the Reignited Trilogy, it is clear that Activision is trying to curb used game sales and make some profit when a game is bought used. Other companies are trying to double-dip on the consumer’s dime by introducing micro-transactions into games that already have a price of admission. Either way, it seems that these companies are not on the same page as the gamers who are intended to buy their IPs.
Activision’s latest set of remakes is under fire for good reason. As I previously mentioned, the entire Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy fit one disc, so there’s no reason to believe that the first Spyro game takes up an entire disc on its own. Moreover, a small minority of people might not be able to connect their system to the internet to download games 2 and 3, or they might just have really slow internet, and not even giving them the option to obtain those games from a disc that’s perfectly capable of housing them is a dick move on Activision’s part. The mass wave of pre-order cancelations is justified in this case and though I was planning to pre-order a copy myself, I think I will abstain for the time being.
Activision is far from the only company who has been using underhanded methods to try and squeeze more profit out of the consumer. EA has been insisting for a while that they cannot afford to release a game without micro-transactions and for good measure they tried circulating a rumour that singleplayer games are dying off just to spite companies, such as Sony’s first party studios, who have the audacity to release finite single-player titles that don’t try to drain any more money out of their audiences than the price of admission.
Micro-transactions make sense for free-to-play titles. They provide an alternate means of generating revenue for those behind said titles, as they are not profiting from the act of merely checking out the game. When a game is sold to the consumer, especially when it is at full launch price, the devs and publishers already have a source of revenue, therefore there’s no reason they should need to try and force the consumer to pay more unless they release DLC that warrants an extra purchase.
The secondhand market appears to have drawn a lot of ire from many devs and publishers as of late. Multiple companies have seemingly thrown their support behind concepts such as Games as a Service or an all-streaming future where the consumer doesn’t have any ownership of the games they play at all. At the very least, they are anticipating an all-digital future where there will be no used game sales to speak of, no lending of games to friends, or any other form of circulating games that cut into a company’s potential profits.
On one hand, it is understandable that a company would want to reduce the loss of profits. On the other hand, even those who purchase new copies of games or buy them digitally are caught in the crosshairs too. I like to buy new to support devs and publishers but not because I’m forced to. I generally don’t part with games in my collection, but if I buy physical, my games should have some trade-in and resale value. Oh, and my games should be on the disc in their entirety with no part of the experience being behind a paywall unless it’s a subsequently released DLC.
When companies say they can’t afford to release games unless they screw over the consumer, they’re blowing smoke anyways. Most of these companies were around at a time when there was only one method of releasing games and they survived just fine. Games, like with any other medium, have a history of being distributed physically including used copies. The current age definitely offers more options to devs and that’s a good thing, but like with any tool, there are good and bad ways to use them.
On the consumer end of things, we want things to be more convenient for us, not less convenient. We do not want to be screwed over and we should not be told what we can and cannot do with a product we legally purchased. Those who pirate software are parasites who bring the whole industry down and they should be treated as such, but honest consumers who pay for their entertainment are not the enemy. We should not have to submit to a future where companies can charge what they want and retain ownership over our games just because they want to profit more from us.
It seems likely that the clash between the interests of the consumer and the interests of various devs and publishers will only get worse unless we do something about it. We should not sit back and just let companies tell us what the future of gaming looks like. They forget that we’re the ones who are supposed to buy their products and we can vote with our wallets.
If a company insists that they can’t afford to release a game without micro-transactions we can ensure that they can’t afford to release a game with them by limiting their potential sales, seeing as the potential market for micro-transactions is limited to those who purchased the said title in the first place. If a company insists that only those who buy new copies of a game are entitled to more than 1/3 of it without paying for the rest we can wait until the game can be acquired for 1/3 of its launch price. In other words, if companies are gearing up for war with the consumer, we can ensure that it’s a war they can’t win.
What are your thoughts on the latest tactics by some AAA studios? Are you gearing up for war with them? As always, feel free to leave your comments below.