The real price of gaming

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By Chris Wolf

By Chris Wolf

Much like the hobo on the bus that sits far too close to you and asks you for a couple dollars, only to get infuriated when you give him a sandwich, videogame companies are no longer content with your $50 when you pick up one of their games.

We are now in an era where videogames are mainstream. This is a blessing and a burden. Yes, most games now are made with a multi-million dollar budget, and yes, videogames are nearly photorealistic, but what is the cost?

Companies are starting to double dip, so to speak, with episodic, or “micro” content. This is basically small add-ons to the game.

Episodic content is prevalent on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Steam for the PC, however most of the examples are on the Xbox 360. For example, in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, the developer, Ubisoft, released a map pack with extra weapons and re-lit maps. Many gamers were infuriated because of the cost, which was $15.

They argued, and rightly so, that Ubisoft was charging way too much, citing that the people playing on the PC got this for free, while the people playing it on the Xbox 360 were getting nickel’ed and dime’d. The “re-lit” maps where the same maps, only now they could play the levels at different times of the day. Did I mention that if you don’t download the “expansion pack,” it’s near impossible to find a match online? Way to show your customers you care, Ubisoft.

If you think that’s bad, Ubisoft looks like an angel compared to Electronic Arts. They have recently decided to charge for many things that were included with previous iterations of its games.

Did you want to play in the Green Bay Packer’s alternate uniform in Madden 2007? Well, it looks like you’re going to have to buy EA’s “Uniform Pack” for $1.25.

Did you want to watch one of their tutorial videos to see how to play the game? Oops, that’s another $1.25.

Do you like using codes on Tiger Woods: PGA Tour? Well, EA took those out too; you have to pay around $15 to use them all.

This is completely insane since we’re already paying them $60 per game now compared to $50 on the older systems.

A handful of companies are surreptitiously collecting your personal info and selling it to advertisers as well.

EA’s most recent game for the PC, Battlefield 2142, politely includes a letter stating that “When you use the software while connected to the internet, advertising technology may record your internet protocol address and other anonymous information.”

Keep in mind, this slip is inside the box, so once you see it, you’ve already opened the box, and there’s no way for you to return it.

EA is notorious for selling off information. Heck, whenever I play an EA game on my Xbox 360, my inbox is spammed by emails from EA asking me to buy ANOTHER game.

I don’t think many people would mind if they sold the game itself for cheaper; it would soften the sting a little bit. But when they charge us full price and then nonchalantly declare that they will keep a backdoor open on your computer for advertisers, that’s a pretty big slap in the face.

This last year I’ve honestly been thinking how much longer I’ll be an avid gamer. There is hardly any innovation since companies know they can release sequel after sequel and people will gobble them up like hotcakes.

Some of my most heavily anticipated games have disappointed me because of either broken online play or sloppy programming. I have also noticed that instead of working on a free patch to fix the game, which should be the developer’s first priority, they talk about how an expansion pack of some sort will be released beforehand.

Corporate greed is greater than corporate intelligence, but hopefully the suits will stop running what used to be some awesome game companies (EA, I’m looking at you).

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