Activision

Exposing the evils of pay-to-play retail gaming

Exposing the evils of pay-to-play retail gaming

Last week, we posted a Cut from Gamasutra which went in-depth on some of the coercive tactics used by unscrupulous free-to-play game developers in order to convince people to pay money in their games.

Today, we have the opposing viewpoint presented in a satirical piece from the Chief Creative Officer of Spry Fox, Daniel Cook, who ever-so-subtly argues that the free-to-play model isn't much worse than the well-established and accepted retail model.

Even if I don't necessarily agree with all of the satire, he makes a compelling case that is worth considering for anyone who has taken a stance on the ethics of free-to-play games.

However, the point he makes doesn't necessarily refute any of the criticisms of gross free-to-play games. Putting a mirror in front of the buy-before-you-try model of AAA gaming is worth doing, but it doesn't address the problems with F2P in any way. Cook's point seems to be that all marketing and business sounds terrible when you really break it down to its psychological elements.

Even if this is satire, most of his points are dead-on. The real take away here is that there are people doing gross things with every business model and that's still an important point. Free-to-play tricks aren't necessarily different than the coercive marketing of other gaming products, but they're far newer and many players don't understand them yet. By contrast, we've been dealing with the retail model for decades, and the caveat emptor model for millenia.