I’m sure the recent discussion and very loud blasting of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 hasn’t gone unnoticed by many of you. The fact that the player is required to play in short bursts to earn credits to unlock characters. Not unusual but one Reddit user managed to calculate the time it would take to actually unlock everything without spending more money on the game, and it would take two full days (yes, 48 hours) of grinding to unlock, say, Luke Skywalker.
Long story short? It’s a bit of a mess. And the internet is, predictably and rightfully, absolutely furious.
Of course, is this the first time something like this has happened? Of course not. Video games, as much as we love them, have always been riddled with shady practices. So I wanted to take a moment to look at some other overpriced items through history so we can see where we came from, and just how we wound up in this kind of position where ‘paying full price for a game and then paying more on top of that for loot boxes or having to grind to unlock things’ is apparently acceptable practice.
Oblivion’s ‘horse armor’ DLC
Perhaps one of the earliest examples of things being both ridiculous and overpriced. In 2006, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was new and shiny. It was a thing of beauty with hours of entertainment and it was also full of weird potato-faced people and a location that wasn’t quite as pretty as Morrowind. But it was amazing. It was my introduction to the series. It also, like previous games, had all the tools right on the disc if you wanted to make your own mods. Which is a common thing for Bethesda in the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. But in this game, things started to get a little different as Bethesda began to experiment with DLC.
They’d released entire story content packs for their previous titles, of course. But that was the norm for the era. DLC in those days meant huge campaigns with even more hours of play. But as time marched on, DLC also came to meant smaller pieces that they could just throw into the game for smaller costs.
And thus, Bethesda decided, ‘well, why don’t we make a cool set of armor for the players horse and sell it for money. Like. The armor won’t do much but look cool but it will still cost real world dollaridoos.’
And so, Bethesda released the horse armor and, understandably, people were kind of mad about it. What with Oblivion being an entirely offline game, the horse armor providing nothing but a cosmetic change only the player could enjoy, and costing a whole $2.50USD ($3AUD).
Although since then, Bethesda have learned their lesson and even use the horse armor as a self deprecating joke, half pricing all their DLC one April fools day, only to double the price of the horse armor.
Almost the entire .Hack series
I got into the .Hack series for PS2 when I was younger. For those who don’t know much about it, you play as a guy who’s playing an MMO and there’s all sorts of weird things that happen. It’s sort of Sword Art Online before Sword Art Online even existed. In total, for Playstation 2, there were 7 games. The first four games made up one part of the series, and then there were the second lot of three.
Now, there are a lot of long JRPG’s. Back in the PS1/PS2 days, particularly long JRPGs would come on multi-disc sets. You’d get to the end of disc 1 and throw disc 2 in, pick up where you left off, and continue the story. Now imagine, for a second, if you had to buy disc 2 as a ‘separate game’. It still picked up exactly where you left off, like disc 2 would. Still uses all the same assets. You can return to all the same places, nothing is really different at all except for the story advancing.
But you paid for a full price game to get this extra disc. Now you had to do this another three times, on top of the game you just bought. And then CyberConnect2 continued this practice with the next series, .Hack//G.U. Although to understand this second series, they actually had to include an anime movie, and on top of that there are a few elements that might be difficult to understand if you hadn’t watched a previously released anime on top of that.
It’s a little convoluted, to say the least.
Team Fortress 2’s diamond ring
In all fairness, I love video game marriage proposals. I think it’s super cute to modify a game you love to include a proposal, or just find a really neat innovative way to include video games in how you make your proposal. It’s neat! It’s a good idea for couples who love games!
And I guess Valve thought similarly, but then they added onto that with ‘hey wait, what if we did this in a way that we made money from it?’
Thus, ‘Something Special For Someone Special’ was born. That’s the name of the item, by the way. The ingame item which costs $100. It’s just a big ol’ diamond ring, and upon use, does the following:
- Broadcasts an ingame message across every server playing the game
- Gives the player and recipient a ring each, which can be put on the character loadout to make your mercenary of choice look pretty
Not to mention the item itself can be renamed, so if you had a spare $100 I’m sure there are all kinds of dirty jokes to make that everyone would then have to look at. And groan at.
What’s the most ridiculously overpriced item you’ve ever seen in a game? Or maybe one you’ve purchased yourself?