The Worst in Online Gaming of 2017
Editor’s Note: I’m not talking about OB64 in Paladins this piece. It’s still in development, so I can’t judge it until it is out in its entirety. But I probably will cover it again after doing some more talking/thinking. This is about decisions that have already been made/implemented. Unfortunately, most if not all of these are buy-to-play, but that doesn’t excuse them from making poor decisions, or trying to use free-to-play mechanics.
Every year we do a “Best of 2017” list here on MMOHuts, and every year I find myself having a hard time picking the “Best”. But is it really that bad? Of course not. We’re just very jaded, but that doesn’t mean that this year has been great. I’d argue this year had more bad news to report than any of the other four years I’ve been in this business. This won’t all be free-to-play news, and in fact, I feel like very little of it will. But today, I’m going to talk about the worst decisions/choices made in online gaming in the Year of Our Lord 2017. Next week, I’ll do a best of, and will actually have some kind things to say. This was the year of “f2p” mechanics in “b2p” games. This year had some negatives, but there were definitely some great things that happened in online gaming. So, let’s get started with some salt and sadness!
Lootboxes are not new. But until the past year or so, they were confined almost entirely to free to play games and mobile games (Smite, et cetera) and that was fine. F2P games have to make money after all, and as long it’s not a heartless cash grab/p2w extravaganza, they tend to be fine and harmless. They’re pretty easy to stay away from if it’s not your cup of tea. However, now you can’t take a breath without coming in contact with a Lootbox. Sure, free-to-play games like League of Legends have them now, and yes, theirs are terrible. But Overwatch, NBA2k, Destiny 2, Shadow of War, Need for Speed Payback, Call of Duty WWII . . . these are just the biggest offenders. Every single one of those but NFS are retail games, ranging from 40 bucks to the full 60. It’s disgusting and shameful, and each one of them is different. Destiny 2’s is mostly harmless, holding back cosmetics, and putting shaders on a limited use, instead of being an infinite use item. It’s still terrible, and they are put in your face.
Call of Duty: World War II turns it into a spectacle, so everyone in the lobby can watch you unlock cool stuff, which can definitely be a psychological ploy to get other people wanting to be the center of attention. This one was repugnant and disappointing, and if I had known CoD WWII was going to have lootboxes, I would not have pre-ordered and installed it on my PS4. By the time I knew, it was too late and I couldn’t ask for a refund. I did uninstall and I won’t play again, even though I was excited to play the story. My problem with lootboxes is well-documented, and I won’t put myself in that position. They do have guns in them, but they’re variants of guns already in the game. I do not know if it turns into pay-to-win, so I won’t throw that out there. But surely, someone is a regular player who knows.
The biggest offender to me is Overwatch. Sure, Shadow of War is pay-to-win for the PVP if you want it to be, and NBA2k having lootboxes just frankly baffles me. Overwatch, until very recently was “Duplicate Simulator 2017”. You never knew what you were going to get, except you did know one thing for sure: Duplicates were coming. I’ve literally bought hundreds of lootboxes in Overwatch because I wanted to keep up and get the latest limited skins. So many duplicates and so much wasted money. . . if this were a f2p, I probably wouldn’t care quite as much, except for all the duplicates. Sure, they went back and adjusted that a little, but it took what, two years to do that? They are the biggest offender, because in my estimation, this is the game that told game publishers that it’s okay to put lootboxes in retail games, and nobody will care. People care.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2:
Just in general, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is an absolute storm of disappointment. Virtually everyone I knew was excited for this when it was announced. It looked gorgeous, the story where you’re an Imperial, huge, pitched PVP battles, there’s so much on offer that promised to be wonderful. At least, that’s what we were hoping for, anyway. This game was a bare minimum 60 dollar title, with an insanely pay-to-win lootbox system, where you were basically locked into using it if you wanted to progress. Everyone remembers Darth Vader being locked behind 40+ hours of gameplay unless you wanted to spend some money. Then when they removed the p2w boxes, they slowed down progression. Then that was walked back as well. It was said it would cost about two grand to unlock everything or about six months of gameplay. The progression system has been changed a few times now, and sure, the game is still decent. I know a few people that still get in and play it because they love Star Wars.
Any game that uses the “Games as a Service” Model is disgusting, and this is a prime example of that. I do not understand anyone that can possibly justify this level of pay-to-win in a game that you already paid hard-earned money for. At least 60 as I said, some plunking down well over a hundred dollars, only to wind up spending more on lootboxes? It creates an unlimited amount of income for EA/Origin and allows them to keep making money even on Pre-Owned games. It’s funny how they said when they removed the real-money boxes, that it would not affect their bottom line. That it wasn’t “What they intended”. No, they only intended to not get caught being greedy and sleazy. If they didn’t need the lootboxes to make money, why have them in the first place? Because it wasn’t needed, it was wanted.
Every single part of this game was disappointing. Bug-riddled, constant changes in progression, the loot crates . . . I’ve never been less interested in a Star Wars game. Easily the worst game of 2017.
Destiny 2: Content Lockout:
This one wasn’t really the worst of the year, but it bears mentioning. Sure, the lootboxes are annoying. Yeah, the latest PVP Gun/Event was horrible. But here’s the real big kicker. Though they’re walking it back a bit, with the launch of Curse of Osiris, if you didn’t have the Platinum Trophy for Destiny 2, you could no longer get it, until you bought Curse of Osiris and started working again. Oh, and the content that you could do previously? Yeah, you can just forget that too. The Light Level required went up to 330, requiring you to buy the said expansion. You could no longer do content you were already doing or were just about ready to do. However, I believe they did this in Destiny 1 as well, so it’s not exactly a surprise. I recall the same thing being said around the time of The Taken King. The patch today is supposed to address some of this, lowering the Prestige raid requirement from 330, down to 300, so you don’t have to buy to play it. However, Nightfall will stay at 330, so you’ll still need Curse of Osiris for it. The issue is being fixed, sure, but it is something that many players I’ve spoken to were very upset over. But I’m not all that surprised by it, not this year.
Lord of the Rings: Shadow of War: “It’s Not Pay to Win”:
This is the one if any, I expect flak or disagreement on. Because a lot of people have played the game without spending a dime because you “don’t have to spend money on microtransactions”. That “they’re just there if you want them, but you can get tons of great stuff in the game normally”. But that’s not the issue! I understand that you can find the Orcs and gear in the game normally. My issue is that they’re there at all! If they aren’t needed, why are they there in the first place? I put this separately from the other lootbox controversy because this one is the most confusing. If you want it to have free-to-play mechanics, make it a free-to-play game! I won’t have anything negative to say anymore! That’s the problem here, it’s become so normalized. I understand that you probably didn’t have to spend money. So why is it there? If it’s so damn easy to get stuff in-game, why would it be needed in the first place?
What do you think? What disappointed you about this year? Feel free to let me know below or on Twitter!
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