Why Can't We Get Rid of Bad Monetization Practices?Mar 1, 2020 | 0 Votes by Mikhail - rate Even if terrible monetization in gaming is getting a lot of bad press and government scrutiny, it still persists today. So, why can’t we get rid of them?
First off, let’s clear the air: monetization isn’t always bad. A lot of games and developers manage to generate revenue from their games without pay-to-win mechanics and loot boxes. Large-scale DLCs and extra content, unnecessary yet desired booster packs, as well as skins, avatars, and other cosmetics, are great examples of good monetization. For example, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate continue to release extra content and in the case of the latter, new fighters and stages. Meanwhile, you can’t forget about The Witcher III’s outstanding DLCs: Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine.
Unfortunately, even if these good practices manage to do well, bad monetization practices like paying for progression, loot boxes, and “surprise mechanics” (that are definitely gambling) continue to persist, even in the midst of widespread condemnation. So, why does it continue to exist and even grow? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why?
People keep buying them
Well, you can’t exactly get rid of or phase out a product people still buy, right? Once or maybe a few times in our lives, we’ve all bought a loot box or a progression item because, well, we wanted to. Personally, I’m guilty of buying $100 worth of virtual currency (VC) in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19.
FIFA and Madden gave EA a significant bump in their profits, thanks to their online multiplayer modes. Note that in both games, you can buy loot boxes in the form of packs of player cards and other in-game items. The same can definitely be said about NBA 2K since its entire progression aspect lies on how much VC you can buy and earn in games.
It’s absurd and puzzling as to why people would spend $10 for an in-game item they’re not even sure they’ll get or $100 to increase a player’s overall average by 20 points. Thing is, this is completely understandable due to the advantages (which we’ll talk about later) they deliver. Regardless, we can all agree that having to buy loot boxes and an exorbitant amount of money on top of a game’s $60 price tag is too much.
The advantages they deliver
Why do people keep buying loot boxes and spend money on items that can definitely be considered a form of bad monetization? Advantages and progression. In short, pay-to-win and pay-to-progress mechanics. In sports games, players want to avoid the dull and endless grind to form a strong team and in boosting the stats of a certain character.
In NBA 2K MyPlayer, your character starts at 60 overall. To increase his stats you need dozens of hours of grinding, playing full basketball games both on the league and on the neighborhood to earn VC. If you buy $50 of VC, you’ll be able to get his overall rating as high as 76-79, making him competent enough to be a starter in some teams. Instead of spending many hours grinding people would rather take a shortcut and pay to progress.
This would be unnecessary if the franchise had a better progression system unattached to in-game cash. But no, this won’t change in the near future because...
Boardroom decisions take precedence
If developers had their way then sure, they’d pick a progression system that rewards players equal to the effort and amount of time they spent on a game. Unfortunately, creative decisions are almost always trounced by executive and business decisions and might always be shot down in the boardroom. Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine that the developers would make character progression and a rewards system rely on loot boxes and in-game currency.
After all, games today are a business and publishers definitely want to get every cent they could squeeze out of a franchise. Yes, this sounds painful and all, but note that not all games are passion projects. Though most are made with love and by people fueled by passion and creativity, it all boils down to the finished product being profitable.
The shift to multiplayer
Gaming trends in the past years have been shifting and focusing on multiplayer. With that said, people are willing to spend more on online games than they are on singleplayer ones. After all, wouldn’t you want to show off that awesome new skin you have or to completely destroy a two-star enemy team with your all-star selection in FIFA? Singleplayer games with monetization, like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will only let you show off your decked out ship and crew, as well as Kassandra/Alexios’ gear through screenshots and videos, not via gameplay.
There’s really not much we can do to somehow stop these practices, although we can always communicate with developers and not patronize them. Though the future will likely be filled with more loot boxes and terrible monetization, we’ll surely still be treated to games that will surely provide us countless hours of fun and entertainment.