How Publishers’ Anti-Consumer Practices Are Ruining Gaming

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How Publishers' Anti-Consumer Practices Are Ruining Gaming

Pre-order bonus schemes, paid downloadable content, and the ever-irritating rise of season passes have been thwarting gamers’ best interests for years now, and the practice is becoming ever more ingrained in the business of selling video games. Obviously, publishers exist to generate revenue through their investments, but the extent to which that has started to affect the consumer experience has become an especially palpable issue over the past five years. Under the instruction of greedy publishers, timed exclusives, invasive micro-transactions and repacked cut content is spoiling the hard work of the creative minds that produce video games and the experience for the consumers that invest their hard earned money into purchasing them.

The culprits of this foul play are many, and to pin responsibility on a single faction wouldn’t be entirely fair. After all, we’ve seen every major publisher in the industry walk away with sticky fingers at one time or another, such is the temptation to innovate new ways to squeeze every drop of profit from the consumers that are willing to spend. That being said, there are those that chose to respect their partner developers and the end user by limiting these practices, and those that apparently couldn’t care less about anything other than turning video gaming experience into numbers on a page.

Square Enix are no strangers to bad press over the past few years. According to critics and consumers alike, the recent Final Fantasy games haven’t exactly continued the shining legacy of the series’ earlier classics. More to the point, Final Fantasy XV’s repeated delays, Kingdom Hearts III’s near-disappearance after its announcement and the decision to remake the much beloved Final Fantasy VII as an episodic series, has resulted in a cloud of negativity that hangs over the publisher like a bad smell.

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Square Enix have a creative heritage as impressive as any of the best developers in the world that is continually dragged down by a poor track record of publishing blunders. Increasingly, the fallout from these corporate interests has tainted its reputation, but the tactics behind them seem to be growing ever more attached to their overall strategy.

Eidos Montreal, a studio owned by Square Enix, have a well earned reputation for creating level design and compose stellar narrative. Praised for the sublime Deus Ex title Human Revolution, the sequel, Mankind Divided, was one of this year’s eagerly anticipated follow-ups. Reviews for the game have been somewhat divisive, particularly with regards to game’s comparably short game time and abrupt ending; a somewhat surprising focal point for criticism based on the studio’s previous work. But based on what we know of Mankind Divided’s DLC plans and the awful botch up with the game’s pre-order scheme in the build up to launch suggests publisher foul play is to blame rather than the talented team at Eidos Montreal.

It’s been just one month since the release of Mankind Divided, but this Friday the game’s first DLC, System Rift, is due to launch. That’s right, just four weeks after the launch of Mankind Divided, a title five years in the making, a paid story expansion is scheduled to arrive for $11.99.

Since, based on the timing, this was almost certainly developed simultaneously with the main game, what are the chances this is the cut content that made the base game’s narrative feel so barren? We already know that the abysmal pre-order campaign featured a tiered price structure that rewarded greater spending with additional content. It is, therefore, hardly a stretch to assume the DLC plan has been issued to recoup losses from that unpopular campaign.


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