The Morals of Micro Transactions

Discussion in 'Politics & Ethics of Technology' started by Davros, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. Davros

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    So you know the deal you play the game and gain xp which you use to get upgrades or you can buy the xp with cash.
    My view is this is nickel and dime-ing the player basically selling a cheat code and publishers shouldn't do it.
    "Its fine because you dont have to buy the publishers are just giving you the option to gaining xp quickly"
    is a common defense. But they arnt giving you the option at all they are selling you the option, if they wanted to give you it they would just print a code on their website, which is what they should do instead of gouging the player.

    On weighty matters I normal consult that fine English Gentleman Mr. Terry Thomas
    "My god man cant you see I'm in disguise"
    [​IMG]
    As you can see dealing with eccentrics can have its drawbacks...
    So i turn to you b3d readers

    So now its time for one of Dav's world famous hypothetical questions:

    Lets say there is such a game, you earn xp ingame to get upgrades or you can buy xp with real world cash.
    So If you discover an xp giving cheat code via looking at the exe with a hex editor(ive done this),or find one on the internet. Or maybe you exploit a glitch (in deadspace 3 if you re entered the level it would load and the scrap you previously picked up would respawn.) Or you used a trainer that gave you xp.

    If you used one of the above methods are you stealing ??

    also what are your thoughts on the whole micro transactions in fully paid for games.
     
  2. Npl

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    this microtransactions stuff and day-one-dlc brought me to the conclusion to only buy games after the publisher is done with it (GotY or whatever "We-gave-up-milking-consumer" Edition).

    its way better to buy gold from inofficial sources of course, that way some asian guys get paid a hard bread and a barely eaten chewing gum for sitting in front of the PC 20h a day. The most of course gets to his benevolent landlord.

    Hmm, where am I getting with this... dont think I know. Just that its easy to point fingers, but looking at what happens without them makes them probably better than the alternative.
    Could live fine without the likes of chore-games anyway.

    And supposedly haxxing the game to give you stuff for free would be illegal. Just think you buy a software suite which comes in a combined standard and enterprise version, with the later costing 20 times as much.

    Morally the FSM wouldnt give you any trouble though, it really thinks highly of those using a hex-editor.
     
  3. Davros

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  4. Npl

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  5. Davros

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  6. Sonic

    Sonic Senior Member
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    In a f2p model where there's no up front cost when playing the game and one finds a way to cheat in the game I do think can easily be conceived as immoral by some. The dev isn't getting paid for providing a service of selling you progress faster. If it's a hack or cheat that gives you in game currency used to buy better items that you would normally need to use $ for then definitely immoral. If there's a significant up front cost to the game and content is being purchased then by all means if you want to cheat then go right ahead. If it is extra content that increases the length of the game then I teeter more on the immoral side.

    Some will argue that developers need to do a better job to make sure these cheats and hacks don't work, but I disagree. Devs should work diligently to fix these problems once discovered but I'm not sure it's practical to find all exploits. I have little problem with calling it piracy if it's depriving the makers of their primary source.

    In a single player game that is actually purchased I could care less what people do and cheat with if it makes the experience better for them.

    When it concerns multiplayer in an online environment then please do not cheat, because that gives the cheater major advantages against other opponents and destroys a game's fairness. That is totally unethical and immoral in my book.
     
  7. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    Interesting note: both games have glitches allowing for a ton of money to be unlocked. For GT6 for instance if you downgrade to 1.0 you can sell the Merc Concept and receive 330 million. Then buy 20 of those, sell those in 1.1 and repeat when necessary (1.0 max credits is 20 million, this became 50 million in 1.1)
     
  8. MfA

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    They deserve nothing for making a F2P game ... because it's F2P I'm suddenly morally obliged not to cheat in a single person game which I acquired legally running on MY computer? Fuck that.
     
  9. Davros

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    If you use the glitch in gt6 are you stealing and if so what are you stealing? You can't claim copyright on the value of a variable.
     
  10. Billy Idol

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    Good question.
     
  11. pcchen

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    I don't think that counts as "stealing" from legal perspective. However, you probably violated the agreement for using their service so they can ban you from using their service again (and this can be interpreted as against the person in question, not just an account). This has been used by many MMORPG publishers before.
     
  12. Shifty Geezer

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    As I mentioned in another microtransaction thread, the fact credits can be obtained for free only shows that there's no cost in supplying them - they are just a variably. In which case, selling credits for money is basically asking people to pay for nothing. The explanation of MT in console games is as a beneficial choice for players, as those who can't afford the time to unlock the game content can buy shortcuts. But there's no need to charge for that shortcut. It could be offered for free, as a free download or a button in game "press to receive 1 million credits". So these MT options are effectively a tax on people with limited time. You buy a game full of content with a suitable progression arc wherein that content is reward for play, find yourself unable to access some of the content due to time constraints, and then are asked to pay to access that content.

    I can't see any moral justification in that. It's quite literally taking money because you can. Either the content should be sold as DLC, or freely available if in game, but paid time-savers don't have a valid justification IMO (beyond free market capitalism where you're free to charge however much you want for whatever you want, and people are free to buy or not).
     
  13. trinibwoy

    trinibwoy Meh
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    This whole thread is misguided. Morality has nothing to do with making and selling video games. Why "should" the content be sold as DLC or made available freely? Nobody has the moral authority to dictate how video game content "should" be sold.
     
  14. pcchen

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    I agree (maybe except the case on some shady attempts targeting children). I think it's better to talk about how one "likes" or "dislikes" certain business model, instead of trying to bring morality into the picture.

    For example, what's wrong with charging money because I can? Talking about some "virtual currency cost nothing so it shouldn't be sold" is, IMHO, not really the case. Virtual currency is just a medium. What you buy with these virtual currency does cost money to make.

    For those who are old enough to remember those arcade games, I think these are actually quite similar. Arcade games were deliberately made harder than console versions because they make much more money this way. Of course, they can't just make it extremely hard because no one would play an "impossible" game. They need to find the balance between a "challenging" game and getting more coins. There's nothing "immoral" about this.

    Talking about personal preferences, of course, is different. Anyone is free to like or dislike a certain business model. Some business models are disliked by more, so they'll eventually go away. Others, even if you don't like very much, will find their way if there's a large enough market for them.
     
  15. Shifty Geezer

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    That's true. The question really is one about the morality of free market capitalism. Microtransactions themselves are just an aspect of that social structure.

    If we replace 'morality' with 'fairness' though, I don't see a tax on people having less time to play games as being fair on them, and so I disagree with the current implementation of MT for time-saving (grind avoiding) content unlocking.

    "I bought this game for $60. I've spent 50 hours on it this week and unlocked the UberThing. It's awesome and I love playing with the UberThing."

    "I also bought the game for $60. I've spent 10 hours on it over the past month and I don't get much time to play. I'd love to enjoy the UberThing like other people but I can't spend the time unlocking it. Because of that, I'm being asked to pay $20 to flip a flag variable in the game that presently denies me access to the UberThing."
     
  16. AlphaWolf

    AlphaWolf Specious Misanthrope
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    Unlockables keep people interested in playing, it gives short term goals. 1 more mission and you get X. 5 more after that and there's Y. Cash is an alternative to putting in the time, but giving everything to everyone would make a lot of games stale fast. Entire squads with every unlock. Imagine a diablo game where you started with every drop.
     
  17. trinibwoy

    trinibwoy Meh
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    If you make everything free you deny a lot of people the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction they get from achieving goals the old fashioned way - putting in the time and effort. If someone doesn't have enough time to play games that's just too bad. Most things in life require some sort of effort.
     
  18. Shifty Geezer

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    I agree with that, and I am not saying make everything available from the moment you get the game. But what's wrong in providing a 'free unlock' button that the user makes use of at their own choice? That way, gamers get the usual experience when they choose not to 'cheat', and those with little time can choose to forgo some of the effort-reward mechanics and still get to access the content. Anyone who chooses the shortcut is making that decision themselves, and the impact on their experience is thus entirely down to them, making the system completely fair. You could also make it a download so it's not an instant cheat, or make it cost 'reputation points' or something. But there's no need to charge people to unlock game content; there's no cost in providing them the content so no need for recompense.

    Basically what we have now is a reward system being given an arbitrary financial value, and that only hurts those who can't spend as much time, or aren't as good at a game. That's akin to charging different amounts of money to different people. Would it be right to charge $60 for a game to taxi drivers and $80 for the same game to nurses?
     
  19. function

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    In the old days we used to have cheat codes, where if you wanted to skip levels you entered a (not so) secret code. And as games weren't online you weren't skanking anyone but yourself.

    The issue isn't so much unlocks vs no unlocks, it's being "nudged" into paying to skip past shitty grind systems that you've acquired in a £50 spend on a premium product. And in some games, paying to have an advantage over other players who are playing the game "properly".

    "Pay to unlock early" and "pay to upgrade early" aren't necessary for having a means to bypass elements of a game's structure. "Pay" is a choice that will - inevitably - influence game design and game balance in a way that is detrimental to those who don't pay, and possibly detrimental even to those who do. No-one wins in the end, IMO.

    Humbug. Humbug I say.
     
    #19 function, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  20. PeterAce

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    Bold mine..... I absolutely agree. Dead Space 3 and Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag recently have the added additional 'grind' to 'nudge' the player into paying for extra in-game resources!
     
    #20 PeterAce, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
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