Flickr, BagoGames

Could Shadow of War become a turning point in videogame history?

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Ever since I was a young lad, I have felt a great deal of love for the world of Middle Earth. I actually finished an eleven hour film marathon mere days ago, so I can assure you that I am very familiar with the source material.

Thus, upon its announcement, I was enthralled by the promises and focuses of Shadow of Mordor. It brought the barren wastes of Sauron’s home to life with the familiar Arkham combat system and a colourful and surprisingly personal cast of Uruk antagonists. The nemesis system from the first game received near universal praise among critics and players alike, as it offered a unique and personal experience to all who played. Every player had that orc, you know the one I mean. That one guy who would gatecrash your party, always cheated death and was totally immune to your favoured playstyle. I’ve so desperately wanted this system expanded upon and the sequel, Shadow of War, has promised this. I’d love to be excited for the new game, but I’m afraid to say that Warner Brothers have taken my hopes and thrown them into Mount Doom.

Flickr, BagoGames

It was revealed that micro-transactions would make an appearance in Shadow of War. Three days after this, it was announced that a competitive multiplayer mode was coming to the game. The mode boils down to capturing and holding an online fortress from other players in order to earn Loot Chests and War Chests. This does involve putting your hard earned orc followers at risk, but the rewards sound like they could be worth it and the concept of fighting other players’ unique Uruks is a really cool one.

This silencing of criticism and blatant greed cannot stand

The problem came when people made the link and realised that those who spent money to earn better War Chests would stand a better chance at capturing and holding these fortresses, essentially making the game pay-to-win. If there’s one thing that the average gamer hates it’s pay-to-win, especially in a game which already costs over £40.

Shadow of War’s forums exploded with players voicing their outrage at the company’s greed. Now this is where things get even worse. One moderator decided to abuse his near total power over the forums to lock, condense and delete threads criticising this move by the publisher. He later justified this with a post stating that he thought Warner Bros had got the message, then stated that he would delete further threads on the topic and ban anyone who persisted. It isn’t certain whether this was the individual’s decision or if it was at the behest of his corporate masters. What is certain is that this shows a turning point as huge publishers seem to be adopting the method of addressing criticism previously exhibited only by incompetent spineless developers who asset-flipped their way through Steam Greenlight.

This silencing of criticism and blatant greed cannot stand. If Warner Bros are allowed to get away with this, how long will it be before Activision and EA start doing this? How long will it be before games launch at £50 with another £200 of so-called “optional” micro-transactions built in?

Pre-order bonuses, day one DLC, the removal of content from the finished game so that it can be sold as DLC at a later date, the road to hell is paved with the anti-consumer practices of these corporate giants

Triple-A developers have become progressively greedier over the last decade. Pre-order bonuses, day one DLC, the removal of content from the finished game so that it can be sold as DLC at a later date, the road to hell is paved with the anti-consumer practices of these corporate giants. There is one course of action we can take as consumers to prevent this madness. We must vote with our wallets and boycott this game. These people do not deserve your money, give it instead to ethical developers and publishers who do not shove intrusive micro-transactions into games where they do not belong. Give it to those who do not silence criticism but those who revel in it, who learn from it and improve their product. Give your money to those who appreciate gamers, instead of those who see them as a money cow waiting to be milked. In short, do not give your hard earned currency to Warner Brothers unless they reverse these moves and issue a long and grovelling apology.

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