Friday, May 13, 2005

Nickel and Dimed to Death

It looks like the next console generations from Sony and Microsoft are including as a key feature the ability to kill you two ways: by having the monster bash you until you run out of hit points, or to kill you - the player - by nickel and dime-ing you to death. That's right - microtransactions built right into your game console! Hey, for just ninety-nine cents, you can upgrade your sword. Oh, for another ninety-nine, you can beef up your armor. Oh, that boss monster still to tough for you? Perhaps you'd be interested in a couple of healing potions - only fifty cents a pop.

An article over at Grimwell Online points out the perils of this plan:
When the game becomes nothing more than a tool to drive more money to the shareholders, it's quickly able to shed all vestiges of a game.
He correctly points out that there is great temptation now for the executive producers to demand games that are little more than vehicles to prompt people to buy in-game content - and indeed, to hold back the best content for the highest-paying customers.

And what does this mean for educational games? Well, first, it means that the commercial gulf between the emerging "Hollywood" game development culture and educational games is widening further. Not only can educational game titles not compete on the graphics and depth of media against the AAA titles, but now, they'll have to compete against games that make money not only on the initial purchase (which already tends to be steeper than educational games), but continue making money after the sale.

Probably not much educational titles can do to encourage micropayment competition against entertainment titles, although I could see a devious model which allows the hapless student to pay fifty cents to skip over the boring educational parts of games to get to the fun parts. Heh.


Post a Comment

<< Home