Crapitalism – Video Games

Crapitalism is the tendency of the so-called free market to provide ever-decreasing substance at ever-increasing cost…

I’ve enjoyed video games going all the back to Pong.  I’ve owned several game consoles and dropped many quarters in the arcades.  In the early days, you couldn’t really “beat” a game.  The games were far too simple, very repetitive.  All they did was speed up or add more attackers (or both) until the player finally failed.  All the player could really hope for was high score.  Over time, consoles got more powerful and the games got better.  The graphics were better and the content became more sophisticated.  The idea of a video game became a complete home entertainment experience.

Sadly, as with all things corporate, the games began to be monetized at every opportunity.  Games came with less and less content and FAR more junk.  Many games include things called “cut-scenes.”  Basically, a cut-scene is an animated segment of the game the player(s) just sit and watch.  The player doesn’t get to DO anything during those scenes – just sit and watch.  It should go without saying that I don’t sit down to play a video game just to sit and watch.  If I just want to sit and watch, I’ve got, like, a billion viewing options.  (The cut-scenes are used to sell the games.  In the commercials, when the games look so cool or so realistic – those are cut-scenes.)

As one example, I’ve played a game called ‘John Madden Football’ for nearly as long as I’ve played video games, certainly as long as ‘Madden’ has been made.  I first played it on an IBM 386 on a 5.25″ floppy disk.  Originally, it was just football and playbooks.  I could create my own plays and playbooks and use mine instead of the computer’s.  But as ‘Madden’ ported out to consoles, control over the playbook was reduced, then, effectively rendered useless.  It took awhile to understand why.

It was Crapitalism…

Game company Electronic Arts locked up the rights to exclusive use of the NFL properties.  That pretty much locked out any competition.  Some clever sod in the corporation realized they could monetize more of the game.  They started selling ad space in the game.  In exchange for using the likenesses of the players, EA had to include cut-scenes intended to placate the egos of the players.  Now there are so many of those, the game play is bogged down and just not fun anymore.  The problem has become so pronounced, if you watch televised football, you’ve probably noticed an increase in the number of cute, animated graphics showing up during the game on TV.  They’re product tie-ins to John Madden Football and you can expect to suffer through them in the game soon…

That’s just one example but these days, it’s very difficult to buy any decent video game one can sit at home and play at all, let alone with another friend in the same room.  You can play across the internet with your friends but the option to play while sitting in the same room has been largely eliminated.  The big game companies are moving to online games known Massive Multiplayer Online games or MMO’s.  Why?  The slang colloquialism for MMO’s is “pay-to-win” games.

See in many games, the player has to complete missions in order to increase skills and equipment until they’re ready to confront some big “boss.”  In pay-to-win games, one has to shell out extra money to get the tool or weapon they need.  Technically, it’s possible for a player to acquire the needed object in some other way.  Apparently, that took a lawsuit.  But the free versions of these games are pretty much basic, stripped-down versions and all the cool features are behind pay walls.  Maximum monetizing, right?  Pay to buy the game, pay to subscribe, pay to obtain needed objects.  Pay and pay and pay…

Right now, I own a PlayStation 3 and a PlayStation 4.  PS3 offers better, more complete games but my controllers aren’t quite as dependable as they once were and the good ones are hard to come by – and expensive.  The PS4 controllers work fine but I’m having trouble finding games to play because of all of the above.  So after several decades of playing video games, I can see the end in sight and, to me, it’s a shame.

Crapitalism is destroying the home gaming industry.  Okay, in my opinion, Crapitalism is destroying the home gaming industry.  The corporations are focusing on online play where they can squeeze every last cent out of the players.  Sooner or later, the players will catch on and stop playing (and paying).  As the “popularity” wanes, the industry will blame anything, everything other than the fact that they killed their own golden geese because of their pure, naked greed.

I’ll tell you this:  The Crapitalist tendency to monetize every aspect of every experience is, in reality, a race to the bottom…

 

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