Friday, October 1, 2010
Thoughts On "The Mannconomy"
Sigh... So, frequent readers of the blog PROBABLY KNOW I'm a big fan of Team Fortress 2. It's basically my favorite FPS on the market right now. I'm not a huge FPS fan, but Team Fortress 2 is a lot of fun.
People will also know I really really REALLY like Valve, the company who created Team Fortress 2. (And Portal.) Part of the reason I love Valve so much is because they don't cheat you. I mean, some companies would have released Team Fortress 2 for $60 when it released, and that would have been fine! But no, not Valve. They released "The Orange Box" which for $6o contained not only TF2, but Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, and a little game no one had any expectations for called Portal.
They're the people who make Steam! Steam is a great service that has made gaming a LOT cheaper!
So really I do love Valve. They're a great company. They make great games, and make sure you get your moneys worth.
So, imagine my surprise upon seeing yesterday that there was a new update to TF2 that added microtransactions!
*In Three Dog voice* Public service announcement time CHIIIIIIIILDREN! What are microtransactions? Microtransactions are a way that gaming companies make you pay them again for new content in a game you've already purchased. For a "small" fee, you get... Well that varies. Usually it's either a new weapon, a new cosmetic item, a new emote, something small like that. One example I've covered on my blog before was TRH or That Retarded Horse, a mount in World of Warcraft that could be purchased for the "small fee" of $25.
I hate microtransactions. I reeeeeally hate microtransactions. You see, there's only two real kinds, in my opinion. Cosmetic, and non cosmetic.
If you get a non cosmetic item (I.E. a new weapon, playable character, something like that) for real life money, then you now have an advantage over other players, just because you paid money. Therefore you are taking away from the enjoyment of other players unless they pay money also. And that's just not cool.
If you get a non cosmetic item (I.E. a mount, a hat, a pet in world of warcraft) then you just paid real life money for some shiny pixels that don't even change the game, which is pointless and annoying.. I. Do. Not. Like. Microtransactions.
That said, I.... Don't completely hate the microtransaction store in TF2. (The "Mannconomy" as the call it.) I mean, I certainly don't like it, but they've provided 3 years of free content to the game now, I can understand wanting to make a little more money off of it, to CONTINUE to provide awesome content in the game. Everything you can buy in the Mannconomy store (With the exception of a key that unlocks a chest that gives a random item) can also be gotten just by playing the game eventually, either by random chance, or by combining other weapons together through the crafting system.
Also, there is one REALLY REALLY COOL aspect to it. Some of the items were actually created by players of the game, and the players who created them not only got the items into the game, but get a portion of the sales! That's pretty darn cool.
So, if they had just left it at that, I really wouldn't have minded. I mean... I wouldn't have HATED the system. Is still don't HATE the system. My biggest problem with it is the prices. To get any of the new hats, you have to pay $17.49.
For a hat.
Let's list what else I could buy for $18.
A copy of the ENTIRE TF2 game which is on sale now for $10.
The new Mass Effect 2 DLC, "Lair of the Shadow Broker" also for $10.
A hardback copy of "The Killing Joke" Deluxe edition. (List price $17.99)
A full copy of Half-Life 2.
One of the 723 games in the steam category "Under $10".
A new CD.
A new DVD.
A month's subscription to an MMO. (Most cost $15 a month.)
18 candy bars. (Usually cost a dollar at the most.)
An N64 game on the Wii's virtual console.
Any number of other things.
C'mon. That's ridiculous.
But ok, the store is a bit pricey. I can accept that, it's not like the hats provide any TANGIBLE benefits. OH WAIT, HELLO THERE SET BONUSES.
The biggest problem I have with this update is the inclusion of "set bonuses". That in and of itself doesn't bother me, so much as the fact that hats are included in the "sets". Before this, hats did NOTHING. They were purely cosmetic. I do not like the fact that they now change gameplay AT ALL. Not one bit. Not to mention the fact that it take a LONG TIME or some really really insane luck to get the hats to drop, which therefore means that they essentially are selling an advantage.
But, overall, I don't completely hate this update. The idea of set bonuses are really cool, although I would like for them to not include hats in the bonus, and the items themselves are pretty cool, like the sniper rifle that applies Jarate to anyone it hits, but can't get headshots. Or the Milk Bottles that you can throw at enemies, which will heal anyone who hits the person who was hit by the milk bottles.
But what makes me uneasy is the fact that Valve has done this at all. While I still love the company, and I can understand the reasoning for them to want to make a little money off a game they've supplied over 120 free updates to, it does feel like a slippery slope to me, and here's hoping Valve is able to avoid the slippery slope, and continue providing great games, great customer service, and just all around being a great company.