@redswir1 I don’t have a particular issue with episodic content if it’s handled well. By that I mean something like Telltale does — spread out the story and/or allow people to play it a bit at a time. The “first chapter free” approach is good, too. I’ve always disliked the piecemeal DLC approach that groups like BioWare have been doing since Mass Effect 2, though. By the time Mass Effect 2’s DLC came out, I’d already finished that game and moved on to something else and had no intention of returning for some time — and certainly not if I had to pay for the privilege of getting more content. I prefer to play games that I know are complete and aren’t going to mysteriously expand for a fee two months down the line. For one of many reasons, it screws with the pace and structure of your story. It’s “beginning, middle, end” not “beginning, middle, end, WAIT NO WE FORGOT A BIT”.

What I also dislike with the fire of a thousand suns is when the “business” side of things starts to interfere with the immersion factor of the game. Part of the whole shtick of, say, an RPG is working hard to achieve things — grinding for money, XP and the like. Not everyone likes that and it’s arguably an outdated game concept — but the second you start putting “BUY MORE GOLD!” buttons in your main menu you’re not making a creative work any more — you’re making a product and/or a service. One of the reasons Persona is so effective is because you really have to WORK to make it to the end. It’s a gruelling experience, but because of that you feel GREAT when you make it to the end of it. Same for Demon’s/Dark Souls — all the meaning of those games would be completely destroyed by “GET MOAR SOULS” buttons. Because the moment they’re added in, the game inevitably gets skewed in order to encourage people to pay more — it always happens, in some cases worse than others. Jetpack Joyride handles it quite well, as you say, but is far from guiltless.

This “freemium” strategy is starting to spill into full-price games now, too. I don’t know how many of you played the recent SSX game, but that featured an incredibly obnoxious mechanic that I didn’t see mentioned in any reviews. Basically, there was an in-game equipment shop that allowed you to purchase various items to boost your riders’ stats. The most expensive of these were ludicrously expensive — and conveniently only tended to appear in the shop’s random inventory when you didn’t have enough money to afford them — thereby encouraging you to take advantage of EA’s “Exchange Microsoft Space Dollars For EA Space Dollars” program. Because by the time you had grinded (ground?) your way to affording them without paying, they were no longer available in the in-game store. A friend of mine tested this extensively and found that it wasn’t just coincidence — it really was fucking with the player in an attempt to squeeze money out of them.

There are three types of games around at the moment — games as creative works designed for the love, games as standalone products designed to sell in the short-term and games as ongoing services designed to make money in the long-term. All three have their place, but it’s when they start crossing over that it gets messy.

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