Are Free-to-Play Marketing Strategies OK in Paid Games?

Should studios even be putting more paid content into paid games?

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With EA and loot boxes and all that other stuff, many people are beginning to wonder if all this paid content, or even pay to win in some cases, are OK in a paid game, or should companies not be doing this? I think it is safe to say that companies should not overdo on the paid content in paid games, especially if people already bought the game. So why do companies do it? That’s what I’m going to explain in this article.

First of all, I need to address why people are fine with this in free games. Free-to-play games often come with pay to win and other marketing strategies. This is fine because the game is free, and the developers make money off microtransactions. Paid multiplayer games can give certain players an edge with gear or experience levels as long as nobody pays for it. This idea has its problems, but it is okay for multiplayer games that don’t want to entirely base the gameplay around skill.

EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II used to have paid loot boxes paid currency, and even some pay to win elements, in a paid game that already cost $60. This might sound like an outrageous thing to do by a company, that’s because it is.EA’s players gave them a massive amount of feedback on this feature, albeit negative feedback as expected by many who have heard the concept. They have since removed this, but many paid games still have paid content, and it’s not just downloadable content, either. Most of them are multiplayer, but some are singleplayer, which is shocking because people shouldn’t be doing that in paid games. If AAA games are moving toward free-to-play marketing scams, I don’t see large companies lasting longer, which will have an impact on the industry.

So you are probably saying “Then get rid of the paid content now, right?”, but it isn’t as simple as that. Games are getting harder and harder to make and cost more and more. Companies like EA have quality standards, and to reach those standards, they will need a lot of money. That money has to come from somewhere, and for games studios, that place is the customers. Companies need more and more money as quality standards to go up, so it seems reasonable for them to need to make more of their games, as other companies keep raising the bar. We can’t just make the standards lower or keep them the same, so we are kind of stuck with extra paid content.

“If you need money, make the games cost more then.” say some customers. That won’t work. A survey shows that almost 90% of gamers won’t buy as many games if they cost $80. It has gotten to the point where all single player games made by big companies will have DLC and all multiplayer games by large companies will have microtransactions. Gamers won’t buy games that cost more, so the people complaining about loot boxes and all that stuff are just inflicting this on themselves.

One solution, if you need extra paid content, is DLC, or downloadable content. These are basically ways of adding content to a game (new levels or areas in a singleplayer game) and for multiplayer AAA games can include map packs, modes, or content that doesn’t give you an edge above other players who don’t pay for extra stuff besides the base game. If you all pay for a map, then everybody playing on that map is people who pay. This has that whole “Don’t separate paying with non-paying players!” thing attached, but I think the people who say that would rather have players separated then have paid games becoming pay-to-win.

I think that AAA paid games should try to avoid having pay-to-win types of microtransactions, because it takes away from the fun that people paid for. If they want to make extra from their multiplayer games, they can have map packs or unlockable modes. If they want some extra cash from single player games, the easiest go-to is just DLC. While some might say map packs separate paying players with people who only buy the game (which is a topic on its own) I think it’s better than the people who don’t keep paying just not having fun. Players shouldn’t have an edge gained from paying.  Hopefully, in the future, we won’t see too many multiplayer paid games that turn the game into a paying simulator.

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