Paige FTW: The Ethics Of Pay To Win

Nobody likes pay-to-win tactics. It’s just a fact.

We would all like to believe that the playing ground is level, and we all win via our own skill and nothing more. We all have the same toolbox, so it must be talent that allows us to succeed. (The American Dream in a nutshell, right?)

Well, with the advent of DLC that promises new perks, or the gacha-style pay-to-draw-more mechanics — we are in a golden age of slanted playing fields.

Recently, the three-year-old — and wildly successful — Fire Emblem Heroes announced that it would roll out a subscription model that guarantees that participants get exclusive (and buffed) characters, more summoning orbs and other upgrade items.
Most significantly, subscribers gain the ability to “undo” losses in regular gameplay — perhaps better simplified to “replay a turn.”

This is a potentially game-changing feature, and it’s only accessible if you consent to pay $9.49 a month.

Is this fair? Is fairness even a factor to take under consideration?

It’s frustrating as a player to know you are going in at a disadvantage simply because you don’t want to spend the price of a Netflix subscription for a single title to get things done. It reeks of greed and predatory sales. It makes you feel kind of disdainful to keep playing.

Ultimately, I don’t think games should sell things that give anyone a competitive edge outside of the purchase price. More story content is one thing — I am more than willing to pay for that. But paying for better stats or more money? Icky.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a solution in sight. Developers want to make more money. Players are compelled to buy in. I think we need to overhaul the model of game purchases to solve this one…