There's been a lot of hand-wringing in the video game industry over microtransactions, but Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski is telling gamers to vote with their wallets or stop whining.
Recently it was revealed that Electronic Arts plans to incorporate microtransactions - small, in-game purchases for extra items, costumes, weapons, etc. - into all of its future games. The announcement spurred a lot of negative discussion for game enthusiasts, compelling Bleszinksi to take to his blog and write a response.
"The video game industry is just that," he wrote (emphasis his). "An industry."
Bleszinski said that game publishers "exist to produce, market, and ship great games ultimately for one purpose. First, for money, then, for acclaim."
If you don't like what they're doing, he added, don't spend your money on their products. He then took on all the attacks that EA in particular has faced over the years.
"I'm tired of EA being seen as 'the bad guy.' I think it's bullshit that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong."
"Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of Gabe and co. and most everything they do," he wrote. "However, it blows my mind that somehow gamers don't seem to get that Valve is a business, just like any other, and when Valve charges $100 for an engagement ring in Team Fortress 2 it's somehow 'cool' yet when EA wants to sell something similar it's seen as 'evil.'"
Bleszinski covers a lot of terrain in his blog post, mentioning that Valve's online services were awful for a while and that EA should be given time to improve their product. He also pointed to the fact that game developers have families to feed, that most gamers don't mind spending a few extra dollars on their favorite game, and that those "raging" about microstransactions online are the "vocal minority."
"If you don't like their microtransactions, don't spend money on them. It's that simple... I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behavior over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash."
Many have complained about microtransactions over the years, but as with most things, there are positive and negative sides to the whole equation. Games that offer items that merely make cosmetic differences (new costumes or hats and whatnot) are pretty benign and simple to avoid if you don't want them. Other games that offer gameplay-changing purchases, however, might be easier for developers to abuse. Voting with our wallets is a sensible solution, but it doesn't mean that game players shouldn't raise their voice when they see signs of that abuse.
In this specific case, though, EA hasn't really announced anything more than an intention to use microtransactions. Past examples of EA titles have some gamers worried, but the fire and brimstone will probably be more effective on a case-by-case basis.