Opinion: Greedy video game developers are exploiting players

Electronic+Arts+is+a+video+game+developer+that+makes+use+of+microtransactions.

Wikimedia Commons

Electronic Arts is a video game developer that makes use of microtransactions.

Elias Olexa, Club Member

Creating a good video game requires years of hard effort and detection to the craft. Many games are born of a passionate team that loves what they do, but recently the medium has been dominated by money-hungry corporations seeking to exploit players for their own monetary gain.

Large corporations such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are the biggest offenders when it comes to exploiting players. The problems include the use of microtransactions to drain wallets, tired game designs, and the plague of downloadable content.

The biggest problem in the video game industry currently is the use of microtransactions.

The dopamine rush that buyers get from opening loot boxes keeps people coming back and funneling their hard-earned cash into virtual purchases.”

Microtransactions are smaller, in-game purchases that unlock extra content or cosmetics. One example of a game that has prevalent microtransactions is the NBA 2k series, where gamers can pay for loot boxes, which are packs containing randomized in-game items, to unlock new players or uniforms. 

The largest reason that microtransactions are a problem is that they resemble gambling in many cases. Electronic Arts were even sued because their games include features that were alleged to resemble gambling. Children oftentimes are the demographic that fall for these schemes. The dopamine rush that buyers get from opening loot boxes keeps people coming back and funneling their hard-earned cash into virtual purchases.

In many cases, these smaller purchases are included in games that already cost the player a hefty chunk of change, but these large companies need to drain every penny from their loyal fans.

Another problem in the industry is the overuse of certain game designs and philosophies so much that they kill a genre. The two most infamous examples of this are the open-world games and yearly sports franchises. Open world games used to be astounding achievements that took heart and hard work to create. But today, companies like Ubisoft pump out multiplayer open-world games multiple times per year to stay wealthy and to exploit the trends of the industry.

Yearly sports games are an even more egregious example of this problem. Every year, companies release sports games that change basically nothing from year to year except for player rosters and the year in the title. These games seek to exploit sports fans who just want to enjoy their favorite sports in a game.

Finally, downloadable content is another greedy and lazy practice in the industry.

Companies believe it is acceptable to release unfinished products at full price and then charge for or drip-feed small amounts of content. Large game companies have been allowed to put minimal effort into making games and have been allowed to release unfinished products.