‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’, Another AAA Monetized GameFiled inside: Editorial
It’s the dream of most artistic and business endeavors these days: make the most money you can possibly make from your creation. This makes a lot of sense from a small-dev standpoint in gaming these days. Small teams that work on these passion projects in their spare time and aren’t paid specifically to make these games need them to reach the largest audience—accomplished by making the game free on easily distributed platforms—while still finding a way to make money off of the product.
Of course, the more recent trend in this regard is the growth of crowdfunding and early access campaigns—something we’ve discussed at length—but more common is the inclusion of the in-app purchase. It can come in many forms: limits on gameplay unless you pay to have limits reset, rare or special currencies that can purchase difficult or even unique items, progressions boosters, or the more traditionally “acceptable” personalization and customization options that don’t affect gameplay directly.
For a long time, this was a model that was almost exclusively utilized by free-to-play and casual mobile games (mostly those designed for children). More and more, though, the major AAA developers seem to be adopting the practice, and it’s got gamers spooked. Even high-profile mainstays aren’t immune, notably Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Ubisoft’s next-generation entry into the series, will see the continuation of the practice introduced in Assassin’s Creed III. By “hacking” items within the Animus, the player can gain early access to items traditionally unlocked through gameplay.
It’s no longer surprising to see developers of major games introducing paid DLC weapons and equipment, and this is hardly the first AAA game series to feature a system like this, Dead Space 3 famously brought the concept into the limelight before its release, and had many gamers pulling their hair out about it.
Many feel it’s a matter of greed. These are developers with strong financial backing who were paid to make this game, and they’re already charging us sixty dollars for it (forget whatever huge amount we paid for the platform to play it on), and now they want to charge me more to get stuff in the game? Others feel that this is “cheating”—it removes a
Relax, guys. There are certainly situations where allowing players early access to powerful equipment could be damaging to a game’s ecosystem (see: pretty much any competitive game ever), but in the above case, you’re under no obligation to access this content. It’s not as though you’re locked out of a particular ending, there aren’t achievements tied directly toward items that must be purchased, and the game (for many) is not so difficult that it can’t be finished unless you buy yourself a shiny new gun with real money.
After all, what’s wrong with Ubisoft’s apparent commitment to turning the $60 customer in to the $200 customer? It’s a business. If people like it, give them more of it. If they’re willing to pay for it, that’s a good thing. So long as you’re not handing the video game equivalent of steroids to whomever in the e-sports league has the biggest wallet, I don’t see a problem with giving people the option of getting more of something they’re enjoying.
There’s plenty to love and hate about DLC, microtransactions, and subscription models for games. The unshakable feeling that you’re not getting everything you can get for your money upon the original purchase is one that has pervaded the gaming consciousness ever since DLC characters were included on several Capcom games were found to have DLC content included on the disc that gamers had to pay to access (Capcom cited “technical reasons” for this being the case). But giving your customers options for getting the most out of their game in a way that suits their lifestyle and fits into their schedule sounds like…admittedly solid customer service.
And besides, Dorkly said it best. It wouldn’t exist if people weren’t paying for it.