I get it. The online component of a game is many times its biggest moneymaker. Online play brings people from all across the globe together. This type of social interaction opens the door for some major spending by gamers through microtransactions. Online gaming is a winner for gaming companies. If you look at the top companies in the industry, what they all have in common are games and products that have significant online participation. In this post, it may come across as if I’m against online gaming, but I’m not. I’m not even against online-only games. But I do not believe that an online-only game should ever cost as much as a game that can be played offline.
Even though it is a game I’ve been tracking, I will not be purchasing Battlefield 2042. To pay full price for a game that is unplayable if I don’t happen to have an internet connection doesn’t make sense to me. Furthermore, if a day comes that the servers running the game are shut down for whatever reason, my game is obsolete. The truth of the matter with an online-only Battlefield 2042 is that I’m paying full price for a game that I don’t own. In essence, I’m paying simply for access. If that is the case, then I would rather subscribe to a service like Xbox Game Pass (which I do). I would at least receive much more value for the access I’m paying for.
In my opinion, if a game can only be played online, then it should be free-to-play or released at a lower price. Many successful online-only games have long adopted the free-to-play model, which has been very lucrative. Fortnite emerged as the king of this model and is still going strong to this day. Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode is free both online and offline with the ability to purchase battle passes and other items. Call of Duty Warzone is a free-to-play version of the popular series that has done amazing numbers. When something is free, I don’t mind if it is layered with microtransactions and items to buy in the game. From a business point of view, it’s a brilliant concept in which consumers are likely to spend more money without even knowing it because the upfront cost is zero. As a consumer, you just have to be careful not to get sucked into spending more than you desire to.
I’m a huge advocate of having an offline option when a game costs above $20. And I’ve decided going forward that is non-negotiable for me as a consumer. It’s certainly within the publisher’s right to sell a game for any price it pleases. Yet it is also within my rights to have expectations that I’m not willing to bend on as the purchaser. That’s why I’ve never paid for subscriptions to games such as World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. I’m sure those games are spectacular and highly engaging, but after spending hundreds of dollars for access, what am I left with when it shuts down? I understand and even respect that the investment is worth it for some gamers, but it isn’t for me.
It’s about what you value at the end of the day. Some people are more than happy with their subscriptions to online-only games and paying full price for a game that has no offline option. While I won’t follow suit, I respect their choices because it is how they’ve chosen to enjoy their gaming sessions. Perhaps much of it has to do with the fact that I grew up during a time when gaming consoles only had an offline option. So as long as your game and system worked, it could last you a lifetime and be something you could always come back to like books in a bookcase. But even if I didn’t have that history, I still would be bothered by the principle of paying the same price for ownership versus access. The good news is that at least it is a choice that gamers are allowed to work out for themselves.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ONLINE-ONLY GAMING?