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Freemium, Premium, and the Boundaries of Profiteering

With the recent release of Dead Space 3, now seems like a good time to talk about micro-transactions and gaming monetisation in general.

A lot of people are raising hell that DS3 uses micro transactions as a resource gathering shortcut, and I honestly can’t say I blame them. When you have already paid out £40 for a AAA title, you don’t expect to be gouged for more money by the developers.

This isn’t a mobile or a freemium title where the product is being given away and monetised later. This is a major franchise release by a major publisher, so it’s not like EA is taking a risk and losing money on this project. This feels like naked profiteering, and it’s setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

EA aren’t the only culprit here, and in fact not my initial reason for wanting to look at this subject. We only have to look at the mobile space to see that this kind of behaviour is already commonplace.
I recently purchased some Android† titles, some had free versions available, but I chose to buy them expecting that my purchase will give me full access to all the game’s features, and that would be the end of it.

Dead Space 3

So imagine my surprise when I load up the game and see a store option on the main menu. Store?! I thought I was already paid up? Oh no, I guess not. If I want certain abilities or benefits I have to throw more money into the developers pockets.

Why do they do this I wonder? If you offer both a free and a paid version, surely the paid version should be worth my money. Why am I paying to gain only a minimal benefit over the free version? Either price your paid version at a price point that you can profit from, or make it fully freemium. This bizarre mix of the two leaves a very sour taste in my mouth, and honestly makes me want to stop playing the title I’ve just spent money on.

Making games is hard, expensive and  very competitive so I’m not opposed to finding new and interesting ways of making money, but this particular path feels like a bad one. If we let companies think that it’s okay to charge us twice for their product, they will do so more and more.

Give it away, or charge me for it. Just please don’t try and do both.

† Some culprits I noticed are: Prince of Persia Classic, Bridge Constructor, Granny Smith

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  1. I thin the state of in game purchases is disgusting, at times it was DLC for new characters or levels and now its seems to gaining to items you could previously unlock through progression.
    I remember playing Tekken (take your pick on which one) where you would unlock a new fighter for each time you complete the game and now look at Street Fighter X Tekken, where you don’t unlock anything, just pay for it. And you could buy extra stat points too??? This is whats wrong with modern gaming!