Tuesday, April 23, 2013
"Oh ya?" I pause, debating whether or not to feign interest. Before I can decide I find my stupid mouth getting ahead of itself as it has so many times in my life and out tumbles a response: "Nice."
Nice? Ugh. Great job there, mouth.
Hey! Don't you dare talk back to me! You just shut your goddamn whore mouth, mouth.
Whoa, jeez I'm supposed to be blogging. Sorry about that, folks. It won't happen again, I promise. Now where was I? Oh ya, the Call of Duty map pack thing.
This episode with my brother happened several days ago and it has been on my mind a few times since. Not, as you might suspect, to beat myself up over the wonderfully poignant response by my traitorous whore mouth; rather, I find myself wondering if these COD map packs, or more specifically, the extremely positive response to them by both critics and gamers alike, contains within it implications for the future. If I am a fortune teller seeing this positive response to the regular release of $15 map packs in my fortune telling snow globe ball thingy what do I take it to mean?
Do I see in its murky depths a future first person shooter landscape cluttered with expensive map packs released at regular intervals like food pellets in a scientists' hamster cage? A future where FPS game developers must regularly release new maps for their games if they want to avoid being passed over by a gaming audience too accustomed to having a new batch of maps to play every month or two to play a game with no maps for sale after launch? Based on the fact that the most popular shooter series on the planet (Call of Duty) has been releasing four $15 post launch map packs for each of its last few games (I think now you get a little more than that if you subscribe to their yearly whatever it is but either way it is $60 in addition to the $60 for the base game) and said map packs have sold extraordinarily well, it does not strike me as unreasonable that in time, games that didn't have that much content being released for them post launch would start to feel boring to their players (at the very least, boring faster than a COD game would). If you play COD and you get a batch of new maps to play around in every 8 weeks or so (even if you are paying for them) other games might pale in comparison because of the lack of new content.
And so it does not seem that much of a stretch to think that if this map pack trend continues, or especially if it catches on with other developers (I know the teams behind COD are not the only ones who do this, btw, but COD is the most popular) shooters that don't get updated after launch will start to bore players a lot faster since their brains have been rewired to expect an ever expanding list of maps to play in. And so, in order to stay competitive, game developers would start to mimic this newly emerging post launch map pack release schedule motif en masse; of course thereby reaffirming the rewiring of gamers' attention span/expectations. So from that point on there would be multiple new map packs for sale at regular intervals after the release of every shooter game. This would of course effectively double the price of these titles.
Wouldn't this be ironic? I mean, just imagine it: some of the very gamers who complained when the price of games went up ten dollars (from $50 to $60) between the last video game generation and the current one end up being directly responsible for the price of FPS games effectively doubling?
All of you gamers happily gobbling up all of the little treats Activision (and a few others) have started consistently throwing your way might just be shooting yourselves in the foot, as the old proverb goes. I mean, if this hypothetical situation actually comes to fruition it will actually be possible for me to say "You guys paid to pay more" and have it be true. Indirectly and inadvertently true, sure, but true nonetheless. Gamers who keep buying those map packs, just ask yourselves if you could see yourself possibly becoming a little too used to having new maps to play on a regular basis. If so, you might want to think this out, because while you may not be meaning to, you might literally be paying Activision et al to essentially sell you $120 shooter games from now on.
Increasing the price of a good or service by voluntarily starting to pay more for it.....now that's taking "vote with your wallet" to a whole new level!