I’m an avid gamer, it’s one of the ways I relax and get a little me time. But among the many problems faced by the industry free to play games still rank highly in my opinion. Welcome to the letter F in my A to Z of likes and dislikes.
The Unfairness of Free to Play Games
Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s many people out there including friends of mine who regularly enjoy certain free to play games. I think one of my mates would collapse under the weight of his own disappointment if Star Trek Online ever disappeared. However, among many of these titles there’s a consistent theme of offering the bare minimum while constantly dangling a proverbial carrot on a stick.
While they claim to be free, it soon becomes apparent that players who choose to pay for supposed optional extras have a clear advantage. A system commonly known among we gamers as “pay to win”. If you claim that the game your publishing is free to play, you should provide a level playing field for anyone who chooses to use it.
I’ve got no issues with offering cosmetic upgrades or purely optional items for a small and reasonable fee. Offering certain players the opportunity to have an unfair level of power, whether that be through items or other means though is wrong.
Addiction and Item Gambling
Beyond the basic concept of unfairness lie far more important issues. There have been reports of impressionable individuals actually becoming addicted to buying and using things like item crates.
These purchases provide an item that the player will “open”, often in the form of a virtual chest or other container that will reward them with certain items or pieces of equipment to use in game. There is usually a ridiculously small chance of acquiring something useful. So the player is hooked in by a temptation to keep rolling the dice in the hope that they will win something unique or incredibly rare, spending more and more money each time for the privilege.
Taking this one step further are nefarious companies operating online that actually allow players to gamble real money with the same goals. The gaming media in the UK has been set alight by investigations into these operations. YouTubers and other online personalities have been caught red handed actively promoting these sites to their viewers, many of whom are often children.
The gaming industry has a responsibility to protect people from business practices that are damaging and wrong. Free to play games are perpetuating dangerous and unfair models and mechanics and it has to stop.
The Virtual wombat A to Z
That’s it for another A to Z post, if you missed the previous entries take a look here and get caught up. I’ll be writing more in the future so make sure you subscribe below and don’t miss any future entries in the series!
What’s your view on free to play games?