Whenever you hear someone talking about the “dying single-player experience” you should know that what is actually being discussed is how invasive and degrading the drive to monetize all aspects of a game are.
Hence, is the single-player experience dead?
Do single-player games thrive off of microtransactions?
Not most of them, and that’s why people are starting to look at in-game monetization and microtransactions in a whole new way.
This is because most of these titles are under the seemingly innocuous banner of “free-to-play games.”
Yet they are typically anything but “free” to play.
They might be free to own, but that’s where it stops.
Combining the business model of the arcades with the sophistication afforded developers by handheld devices like smartphones, developers are increasingly turning to these free-to-play models to harvest tons of money from their user base.
And that’s why it needs to stop and die a quick death.
You see, often these in-game purchases do nothing more than speed up processes. If you’re leveling a character in an RPG, think of it as a quick way to skip levels or even a quick way to get that gear you wanted.
But “just buy it” is not a long term philosophy that game developers can maintain, even if it makes them a ton of money now.
Plus, these games tend to be much more superficial experiences and are geared towards making you spend more money rather than making you play the game.
Naturally, people point at Epic Games’ “Fortnite and say “look, here is a free-to-play game that is just as serious and mainstream with minimal in-game purchase.”
The Epic Games’ store does kind of kill that premise a bit, doesn’t it?
After all, you got to play a game for free and we unwittingly welcomed a trojan horse into the field with its Epic Games’ store and push to fragment the PC gaming user base.
Free to play though, right? Because your information is worthless, because springing a gaming platform on everyone months after your success is a consumer-friendly approach?
And that’s the crux of the issue with free-to-play stuff. If you’re not paying anything, you are the product, and no gamer wants to contribute to nonsense PC exclusives and a business position that tries to undercut Steam – big time – right out of the gate.
The only way to stop the free-to-play onslaught is to either play those games and spend nothing or not play them at all.
At the end of the day it is all about money, and this focus will probably transform “free-to-play” games without realizing it.
Many governments are looking at the aggressive monetization practices used in these games and most of them liken it to gambling. This bad aura will probably continue to grow and haunt this niche into the near future.
After all, parents and gamers alike only need to read so many stories about someone spending thousands of dollars on some worthless game to realize that free to play is far from free. Greed will solve this problem in the short term, but the impact it might have on gaming long after is something that remains to be seen.