Is Monetization Affecting Game Design?

Mike Matei / July 29th, 2017

Is Monetization Affecting Game Design? Mike and Ryan discuss if things like microtransactions and DLC are influencing the outcome of video games. Is it harming or helping the final outcome of a game? This is an open ended discussion, please feel free to weigh in with your opinion in the comments! We’re interested in what you think about this!


  • calmLIKEaBOB-OMB

    July 29, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Stop preordering and stop buying DLC. Problem solved.

    • Hanglyman

      July 31, 2017 at 3:35 am

      I really wish people would actually do this. Sadly, they instead gladly eat it up and pay through the nose for less and less.

  • mysterywolf

    July 29, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    I’m fine if there’s a balance. Basically, if money doesn’t make you effectively a stronger player.

    In Freemium, that’s pretty much a given- you spend money, you get farther in a game.

    Though sometimes it’s a gray area- like League of Legends. You can play for a long time, or you can spend money NOW and get the heroes you want to play as, and the industry feels like it’s going towards this- either having addons for games like extra dungeons, or extra playable characters.

    And then there’s Skylanders. I watch my brother play it- whenever he gets a new Skylander, all of his Skylanders get more power- they can get stronger. It’s like paid content.

    Coming from someone that designs games with the syndrome “My game could always be better”, I can see where they’re going with adding extra content and wanting a little bit more money out of it, and extra skin options just for the heck of it.

    Freemium “Buy extra lives in order to keep playing or wait 24 hours” though is just pure greed.

    • July 30, 2017 at 12:28 am

      Did you know that the concept of “energy” or “lives” that limit the amount you can play (unless you pay up) was originally created after a group of parents complained that letting them play too much was harmful and also made them more likely to spend money? Since then most mobile games have had an ‘energy’ concept such that most players will only play a few rounds or games at a time, to appease these concerns.

      In the end though, it just becomes really aggrivating to those people who are capable of controlling their own playtime.

      • mysterywolf

        July 31, 2017 at 9:09 pm

        Seems kind of counterproductive considering you can buy energy for money, so for kids who don’t have their own money, they get parents to pay for it, whereas if it were unlimited, it wouldn’t matter.

  • July 29, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    Nooooo… monetization doesn’t affect game design. Nor does it affect science, education, medias or anything else in life. DLCs is a horrible disease, games will be released more and more incompleted and faster as dlcs take over. Why should we invest in a quality game on a long deadline when it can be released next year with upcoming Dlcs, right?

    • July 29, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Paying to advance further in game, seriously? Why not with cheat codes, remember those? When pretty much all that purchasable bonus of today was actually unlocked just with button inputs, not money.

  • Tross

    July 30, 2017 at 3:04 am

    I think micro transactions are fine…if the game is free to play. If you have to pay for the game, then no, unless it’s something really cheap like a few dollars or less. I think the practice of adding micro transactions to full-priced games should be banned. I’m fine with DLC though, as long as it’s for optional content. It’s a tad overkill if the DLC adds up to cost more than the price of the actual game though.

  • IronJustice

    July 30, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    The Freemium game model has, in my opinion, devastated the quality of the gaming experience. After having been sucked into several of these games and having to make the tough choice of doing joyless grinding or shelling out $$, I eventually decided to quit. Now I will avoid any game with a freemium feature, and unfortunately that excludes quite a few games.

    The immersion in a game world is ruined when you have the option to magically give you guy what he needs with your credit card. I want it to by my skills and strategy against the game. A game feels stilted and ‘fake’ if you have pop ups and in game store, and ‘social gaming’ bullshit ripping you out of the experience.

  • Michael Benson

    July 30, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Another big difference in the state of retro vs. modern gaming is the arcade scene. In the past, the home console market was trying to bring the arcade experience to our living rooms. People would go to the arcade for the full experience while scrambling at the chance to play a down-graded version of the game at home. To me, the arcade sales were like the micro-transactions of the day. Today, the games we play in our homes are just as sophisticated or more than the games in the arcades. Now arcades are trying to bring customers in through redemption/ticket games or some kind of gimmick. They are more or less separate markets. Maybe the advent of DLC/microtransactions rose with the decline in arcades as we knew them in the 80’s & 90’s.

  • jason mckenna

    July 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    It’s definitely a problem, but it won’t stop. I personally know someone who spent over 1,000 on skins on one game. As long as people like that exist, so will this model.

    I feel like it’s working both ways though. Whenever I see a game has a season pass I’ll wait 6 months to a year and get the complete edition with all the DLC’s for less than the original game was going for. I think more people are going to be comfortable waiting and saving $50-100 per game.

  • Pablo1989

    July 30, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    DLC stuff are OK but i got huge complain to GTA V.
    They spread those DLC to GTA Online while SP gamers got crap.

  • mike bray

    July 30, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    It absolutely s affecting game design, I find it completely negative and I will never buy a game like those. I’ll stick with the older consoles and don’t care about the newer style, it’s exploiting fans of video games for even more profit. I am dead set against this practice. If you like it, fine I hve better more important things to spend my money on, than a new video game outfit.

  • Jopar81

    July 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I love how these two are talking about the ills of monetization when they’re a couple of the biggest nintendo shills out there. Yes they have talked about the switch’s shortcomings and errors but yet they still buy amiibos. Amiibos are the worst kind of dlc ever imagined and nintendo has fully embraced useless plastic garbage to prey on kids’ minds. Sorry i like Mike and i love James but Ryan can FO.

    • July 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Honestly, amiibos are fine but I’d rather them being cheaper by not having any nfc features. They’re useless but pretty. The somehow missed every opportunities to make them useful… like sharing a mario maker stage with an amiibo, for example.

      • Jopar81

        July 30, 2017 at 8:10 pm

        Exactly right – they should be cheap (emphasis on CHEAP) plastic figurines and if people would like to collect them that’s totally fine. They should not gouge people with cheap toys by tying game content to them.

  • klaus84

    July 30, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    you guys are awesome! cinemassacre/games gets intellectual. good stuff.

  • derek

    July 30, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    i wish mike would go back to being just behind the scenes

  • luke highland

    July 31, 2017 at 3:07 am

    As the AVGN would say… “what a shitload of fuck.” Look at this new game FFXV A new realm. The microtransactions being crammed down your throat are shameful enough, but there’s not even a good game behind it.

  • Hanglyman

    July 31, 2017 at 3:25 am

    I hate DLC in general- it’s always an excuse to give you less game, no matter what form it takes. I mind less when it’s just cosmetic, but the moment it starts to affect gameplay or locks off part of the story, that’s an instant boycott from me. I might wait until it’s on deep discount sale and eventually buy it years later if I really want it, but they’re not getting full price from me.

    • Hanglyman

      July 31, 2017 at 3:27 am

      I actually still have never played Mass Effect 3 because of a combination of DLC and the mandatory use of their Origin spyware.

  • Slapnuts

    July 31, 2017 at 10:24 am

    DLC’s originally expanded a game to give it more replay value. Now, game developers are intentionally selling a game incomplete for the same price, and practically forcing people to shell out extra for the rest.

    Capcom is pretty bad with this. I bought the Season Pass for both DR4, and Resident Evil, and so far their DLC has been awful.

  • Butters Stotch

    July 31, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Monetization isn’t surprising, but it’s depressing. It’s hard to see game developers sink to the “free to play” or “pay for more features” rhetoric. I too want games to be released with everything included, if there is more to add make a new game. However, I will say the current framework of alpha development cycles can certainly help in a games improvement. I just don’t want all games to go down that path, it’s much more meaningful to have a finished “whole” game then a continually “improved” game.

  • Ben Albright

    August 2, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Mike, you are one of the LAST people I would ever expect to analyze the state of the game industry.

  • greedo

    August 2, 2017 at 2:16 am

    I would use the dreaded f word to say what a good discussion this was, but since I can’t, I won’t. 🙂 Seriously, though good discussion, and thought provoking. To answer your question, yes it has. I don’t mind DLC on some level. But it is time consuming, and a bit of a pain. Game developers must assume that people have this bottomless pit of money for which to buy games. When the truth of the matter is- they don’t. And as I’ve said once before, it is cool to buy additional stuff, but do I want to buy said stuff when there is another game I could get? This is the thing with DLC. It’s like a bottomless pit to sink your money into. Do I really want to spend all of that money on one game? Besides, it is tough enough to buy games when you’re single, and struggling to get by. Quite another, if you’re married, and have a family to feed. Videogaming is an expensive hobby, it is very difficult to buy so many games. This is why people do trade-ins at GameStop and the like. As for it affecting game design- h’yeah! When you have to spend money to buy something for segments, or a “seasons pass”, in order to get a complete game, you bet it does.

    Sony and Microsoft have been parasites on the gaming industry, basically sucking all of the life and competition out of it. They are like two giant black holes that are sucking creativity out of the industry. I find many of their games bland, and uninspired. And that’s just the third party stuff! There isn’t an incentive for developers to improve, to be at their best. And the whole DLC thing is a symptom of that. To take a game and chop it up into bits, is exploitative, and unfair, not to mention poor value. For instance, Street Fighter V for PS4 and XBox 360 had chopped up the game! In order to get the “full” game, you had to pay for it in a few DLC packages. And even the games that don’t, where you have to pay for extra costumes, etc, is ridiculous. Some of it can even be unlocked in the full game!

    I had thought that Nintendo was above this. Frankly, it seems a little absurd that someone should have to pay extra for a game like that. Zelda games are supposed to be complete adventures in and of themselves! And the main game is supposed to be pretty meaty, too. So why do this? This seems pretty un-Nintendo. One of the things that I liked about Nintendo is that they didn’t bow to stupid things like timed exclusives and paid online. (Speaking of which, I think you can have a “robust” online experience without having to pay for it. I don’t see what the big deal about that is. You don’t need to have a unified system to have fun. One of the things that I have always dreamed of is cross-platform online gaming, and that appears to be a reality now! There is a offroad racing game out now that has it for Nintendo Switch, XBox One, and PC.

    Anyway, my point is that paid DLC is ruining gaming, along with these other changes have helped lead to the decline of gaming, because they lead to games that are less fun, and have less value. Games seems less about providing an entertaining product, and more of a cash cow. DLC itself has basically led to companies milking their customers for every ounce of cash they’ve got. The customer should be king, not the company. That is the problem with so-called gaming companies, these days, they take their consumers for granted, and act as if the fans owe them a favor!

    For this reason, I will never, ever, buy a Sony or a Microsoft console. Ever. I hate those two companies with a burning passion. Both of them have sucked the life out of gaming, and had it not been for Nintendo, it would have collapsed a long time ago. Where is the innovation? Where is the creatiivity? Where is the value? And where is the fun?

    P.S. Not saying that PC hasn’t contributed to this problem, as well. But the problem is mostly on the console side.

  • Joe

    August 2, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Of course it is. Game design has increased in cost exponentially since the boom brought on by the NES and it has coincided with a decrease in cost to the consumer when adjusted for inflation. Developers are constantly searching for ways to boost revenue and things like DLC are now part of their pricing model to the point where if it fails they probably stand to realize a tiny profit or even a loss.

  • Pablo1989

    August 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    PC gaming market lack of demo versions.
    There still exist but not all have them.
    STEAM had something called Early Access, it works much same like demo versions BUT!…there is catch you must purchase.
    While demo was free.

  • September 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Not bad at all great to see a new episode, Keep up the great work guys.

    and relax with kizi games

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