The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I happened to catch a clip of Wayne's World not too long ago and for those of you who may not have seen the movie, there is a character in the film named Noah Vanderhoff. He is the owner of a local arcade where Wayne lives. When sleazy T.V. executive Benjamin Kane is trying to pick Wayne's show up to exploit Wayne and Garth, he tries to get Vanderhoff to sponsor the show. Vanderhoff claims not to understand the premise of the show, but after some PR speak, Vanderhoff agrees.
In their exchange, Vanderhoff mentions that he has a new game in his arcade, Zantar. He explains that Zantar is a gelatinous cube that gains strength when he eats people in a village. When you eat enough villagers, you advance to the next level. He then explains that you can't get to the next level, so the kids "just keep coughing up quarters" in order to try and advance.
Wayne's World came out over two decades ago. Fast-forward to the present day, and things don't seem to have changed all that much, or at the very least, history is repeating itself.
Microtransactions are becoming more and more pervasive in the game industry. They have become akin to a viral outbreak that has spread over many years. I remember them as early as my late years in high school (8-9 years ago), but it seems that with each passing day, more and more companies are adopting this tactic and using it as a means of evil.
This isn't to say that microtransactions can't be done right. I've only seen it done well in a couple of online games over the years such as SD Gundam Capsule Fighter Online and Hawken. In these games microtransactions are, for the most part, completely optional and consist mostly of cosmetic decals or non-game enhancing upgrades. Of those two games, the one I play most frequently being SDGO, the only thing that you have to use cash to get is hangar bay expansions to house more units, but even these they give away occasionally in events.
Too often now, however, is the "pay-to-win" model, or just outright money grubbing greediness of companies who have perverted a once beloved hobby and sold it out.
Aside from your main offenders like Candy Crush Saga and pet hotel type games, in the last 6 months big AAA publishers have decided that they want in on all that sweet casual gamer cash.
EA's Dead Space 3, Square-Enix's Bravely Default and even bigger more established titles like Gran Turismo and Forza are now using the microtransaction model to nickel and dime every gamer out of a few more bucks.
Though many arcade titles are remembered fondly, what this amounts to is the new "coughing up quarters" model. Gaming is a lot more mainstream now than it used to be, but they know that their audience will only grow so much.
Since gaming as a hobby has more or less reached it's apex, publishers are now looking to nickel and dime the customer in a new way. The internet gives people an instant voice to let others know if they think a game is too difficult, so many no longer use that route. Instead, they opt to just charge players more for content.
A while back, I mentioned that people were outraged at the thought of paying $80 for a game once the current generation (since they're all out now) of consoles started. They were rioting in the internet streets about this. Little do they know, they already pay in excess of that amount for games as it is.
For example, I am a huge fan of the Mass Effect franchise. I bought the Super-Mega-Awesome-Ultimate-Collector's Edition of Mass Effect 3. This ran me $80 and included the controversial Javik character and his DLC mission which was sold separately if you didn't buy it. On top of that, there were 3 DLC packages made available later each priced at between 800 and 1200 Microsoft points, which roughly equated to $10-$15 each. I bought those missions on sale long after I had completed the game, but even going off the initial $60 price point and paying $10 for the first two DLC chapters and $15 for the second set that came out, you're looking at a grand total of $110 for the full experience. You can also elect to pay for multiplayer drop-packs which is akin to a card-draw system, so you aren't guaranteed any of the brand-new content. These also cost a buck or two if you choose to not earn them with in-game credits and adopt the "pay-to-win" mentality.
All throughout the seventh console generation we have been getting duped. We've been paying more for our full experience all along. Our once grand hobby has been polluted by the stink of corporate greed. I will say that game developers still love and care about us very much.
Their corporate overlords never have.