If you follow any sort of social media you already know the gist of what’s going on with Mortal Kombat X, but for anyone who is not totally aware, the game is filled with some of the most anti-consumer micro transaction, a fighting game can have.
Everything from several day one “DLC” Characters to $5.00 for 30 “Easy Fatality ” that need to be “earned”/ repurchased, which are all 100% unacceptable. With the rise of game like Evolve and Mortal Kombat X Consumers are consistently being bamboosaled into purchasing a product that is only 50% to 80% of what is available in the actual game day one and this needs to stop.
But how? How can the consumer send that clear message that practices like this are not ok? The majority of gamers go to outlets like IGN, which rarely cover such issues, so for all intents and purposes they are woefully miss informed about the product they are buying. It’s kind of like fishing: The promise of the game is bait, only to be hooked in the mouth by the bad business and consumer practices.
This has been a growing trend since the advent of DLC and internet updates. It continually operated and functions because despite being burned time and time again, consumers keep doing the three key things that will signal to developers and publishers that this is ok:
1. Preorder Culture
This has been beaten into the heads of the consumer (mostly hard core gamers) time and time again. Preorder Culture is Toxic, hands down. Now I am not talking about reserving a game that you might buy and are excited by, no, no, no my friend. I am talking about the Culture that says it’s ok to tack on “essential” game extras that are ripped out of the main game to only to be sold back to the consumer for not pre ordering the game.
Now what do I mean by “essential”? Well for a fighting game (considering they are all online now for competitive play), that would be characters. You should not nickel and dime your consumers on any competitive games, nor should you make them feel like they have to buy more to be equal. It’s not ok in a Free 2 Play game, and many of those companies understand that and work around it in some capacity. So why is it ok if it is in a $60+ game? Short answer, it isn’t. Call of Duty is equally guilty of this issue to a point, but they have the decency to not make it a day one issue connected to a pre order when it comes to map packs.
How do you stop this? Boycott the game for the first week of sales if you see this happening at all, and do not buy that DLC what so ever. You will know when you see the ads for the pre-order, it is not hard to spot and you don’t have to boycott the game entirely, just that first week. Most people outside of the industry don’t understand this concept, but boycotting just the first week of sales is enough to really throw a company off; it messes with their future sales predictions, does not give them the initial sales which makes them guess at future production, and those two things adds to further costs.
2. Treating companies as if they are people
This one might through you for a loop but it happens all too often. It is so bad right now worldwide that it has been part of the hot debates in the USA because of companies trying to use “religious freedom” to deny services / state mandated employ benefits on the grounds that “they” don’t believe in it.
We do this in the game space a little differently. It is almost a love / hate relationship, and gamers tend to react accordingly. Example, the same year Apple’s Foxconn manufacturing facility had people throwing themselves off of roofs in mass suicide because their job was more of a labor camp then career choice, it was side stepped to call EA the worst company of that year. Why? Because EA “did a bad” on a game (At the time I think it was because of Mass Effect 3’s ending). This sort of anger always comes in waves “after the relationship” instead of before the purchase. We see this with the massive amount of purchase justification on week one (yet another problem with week one sales) for games that score over all 6 to 7 out of 10 scores, only to have outrage set in later after people invest time in the game.
It really seems like a sort of jilted lover syndrome, which is usually complete and utter love at the start for no justifiable reason, and ends in anger and shouting matches. While enthusiasm is always great for your hobby, job, or artistic inspiration; the level here boarders the line of object relation for an infinite, where if the object(company as a whole) does not present itself in front of the consumer they cease to exist, and whatever is immediately in their view becomes its representation. In the case of purchase justification, the consumer relates the item as a “selfobject” where any attack on the object is a related attack on themselves.
Either way you look at it, company as a person or part of yourselves, there is only one clear way to fix this. Question yourselves critically on why you think what you are thinking. This generally goes for a society built on media, but it is one of the most under used tools people have in their arsenal when it comes to making quality choices in our everyday life. If you do that one simple action it would not only allow you to gain distance from the product, it will show publishers / developers you are not thinking more critically of their products and if you should buy them or not, because the way you will fundamentally talk about them will change one you question yourselves when looking at them.
3. Stop minimalizing consumer frustration
This is a big one, and it is extremely simple. People do not get upset at a company for no reason. This is also where consumers tend to be the most hypocritical as well. Their brand of anger outweighs other people’s brand of anger, and that right there is extremely selfish. Everyone has their own personal Mass Effect 3 ending, and none of them are less significant. Be it tripping in Super Smash Brothers Brawl or Metal Gear Solid 2 ticking players into playing as Raiden, the feelings of consumer frustration from a product they paid a lot of money for are not unwarranted when the product is presented itself to be something different or act different, which are just as justifiable.
With all three of these things in mind, I urge you to go out there and help make a better game space with the rest of us, as a consumer and as a gamer. It is time we take a moment and regroup, because if we keep allowing these things to go on, we will be stuck on a leaky boat in the middle of an ocean, with no land in site.
Agree? Disagree? Tell us below.