A while back I had mentioned that I was voting with my wallet and no longer buying anymore EA games. SWTOR and Mass Effect destroyed BioWare, PopCap hasn’t had a single release since being purchased and Origin still makes me feel dirty.
Dead Space 3 is the most recent example of money grabbing, where you had micro (or macro really) transactions in game to help you create better gear. And a few days ago they said that they were going to focus even more on this type of business model for all future games.
Now, I’ve seen arguments that these “quality of life” features are just that, innocuous unless you want to boost past something and from some companies, I would agree. Guild Wars 2 follows this path and does a decent job. So does Path of Exile and Star Trek Online. Games that don’t? Everquest, LOTRO and every EA game that has an online store. And I think this comes down to a basic design problem.
Games that are designed from the bottom up to have an online store tend to have a better ability to control the items in the store. The core systems are designed around a consistent vision. Games that convert either mid-design or post launch have very little chance to have unobtrusive stores and mechanics. The game simply never accounted for it in the first place. Clearly there are exceptions to this rule as Zynga has never made an acceptable store and DCUO has made a pretty solid conversion.
I’m not saying that EA is the devil of all games. I am saying that their business practices (and those of Activision) are such that they are hollowing out the gaming population’s wallets and patience. I am not ignorant that they will make millions on another CoD or Battlefield but hopefully the lesson with Medal of Honor, SWTOR and BLOPS2 can have them focus more on making quality games rather than finding a new way to nickel and dime.