Rockstar have come under a lot of fire towards the end of this year. Their poor treatment of workers caused some pretty justified outrage a few months ago. On top of that their games’ online economy has causes a lot of fuss with the RDR2 community.
A Step Too Far?
Rockstar have long been known as a proponent of the ‘live services‘ model of video game development. While their games still carry a single-player, their recent games have had huge online modes as well.
In fact not only did GTA V Online recently break a record as the most profitable entertainment product of all time, but it’s basically been the companies main income source since it came out. With their amount of experience monetising an online experience, you’d have thought they’d make a decent game economy. Apparently not.
(Red) Dead Economy
Since the online update was released on November 30th, players noticed that items were a little overpriced in the stores. It could talk hours of money grinding to earn enough for simple items like tins of beans. Guns and outfits coming in even higher, sometimes 4 times as expensive as their single player counterparts.
With the real-world price of gold bars, the premium currency, at a high price things are pretty expensive. You have to buy better horses, better weapons. You can even use real money to purchase new abilities for your character, directly flying in the face of the anti-pay-to-win sentiment.
If that wasn’t bad enough you also have to pay money for clothes, unless you want your character to look ridiculous the entire time you’re playing. Forcing plays to choose between a functional character and a good-looking one is just another blow to the games player-base.
It is no surprise that some players decided enough was enough and called for a boycott. There was already some chatter about boycotting the game as a whole back in late October due to the working conditions. Now that it’s effecting people directly, it seems like the floodgate has been broken.
Several threads on the series’ reddit page have fans calling for a boycott on the online micro-transactions. There have also been requests for mass use of the in-game feedback forms to let Rockstar know that players aren’t happy with the economy.
The word boycott gets thrown around a lot in this industry. Every time any game does anything even vaguely political a certain group of people always call for a boycott. As such many people just tune out when a new one is called. However in the case of Red Dead Redemption 2 Online, it might be just the thing the game needs.
If GTAO is anything to go by, Rockstar probably plan on keeping RDR2 Online going for as long as possible. So it’s in the best interest of the players to get the game to a state which is at it’s most enjoyable.
As much as we like to think of games companies as ‘different’ to the larger world of businesses, they’re really not. The only thing they’re going to listen to is how much money they’re making, or not making, on their products.
It’s a Living
If players really want the economy to be fixed, their best option is really to stop taking part in it. Of course this is easier said than done. There is a large amount of players who will be buying into the games economy no matter what.
Younger gamers begging their parents for in-game loot, or richer, less moral players wanting everything. Regardless of the situation there are plenty of people out there who’ll be continuing to support Rockstar for their own reasons.
Only time will tell if this latest boycott is successful. For the sake of the game, and of its players, we can only hope that people band together and get behind this boycott. Of course, we also need to hope that Rockstar pay attention either way.
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