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The Hot Topic: should paid-for games be able to sell you things?

Should paid upgrades stay in the realm of free-to-play?

Arguing about stuff: it's the new having sex. Well, not quite, but we couldn't very well have a column in the magazine dedicated to having sex, now, could we? Not till the next Dead or Alive game, anyway.

This month's Hot Topic sees Log and Jonty clashing sabres over the prickly question of whether you should be invited to buy in-game doodads after you've parted with several banknotes for the game itself. Let the tournament begin. You can vote on the winner in our poll, over the page.

Zoom

Log says: NO!
They enable joyless grinding

Developers: do you want me to pay to skip areas of your game? Okay. But first, tell me why you put that stuff in your game in the first place. Was it to create a game with an artificial sense of endlessness? Take Assassin's Creed III with its Erudito Credits. There are 50 levels, and 50 prestige ranks. That's 2,500 levels. Letting me buy my way along an artificially endless corridor like that is an insult.

I don't mind the odd unlock-style cheat that doesn't feel like it's defining the game. And I do understand that microtransactions can be a valuable way for games to get a free-to-play following, before aiming for the coin jugular.

But it's so hard to get right. CSR Racing on iOS is the top-grossing game, despite being a horrific, mindless 30-second loop of pedal tapping. It's profitable because natural, non-purchased progress is deliberately hobbled. Meanwhile, beautiful little games like Punch Quest get nothing, because they're too generous with their in-game currency.

That's what I hate: microtransactions make it okay to dick over the non-paying gamer. To make them weaker, slower, behind. They're not a cheap way out for the impatient, they're an active incentive for developers to waste our life with aggressive grinding that we can only ever escape if we're rich. And yeah, I get that that's how life works. That's why I choose to play videogames instead.

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