Life is Pay2Win

I was listening to some well-known YouTubers complaining about lootboxes in new games like Star Wars Battlefront II or Shadow of War and pointing out in painstaking detail how getting this or that bonus unbalances the game in favor of people who buy lootboxes. However they appeared to be totally okay with other people getting the exactly same bonuses by grinding the game for many, many hours. And that annoyed me. Wouldn’t we be much better off if our multiplayer PvP games would be perfectly balanced and the outcome only determined by skill? If you can get bonuses that make you much stronger than another player, why would it matter whether you got them by playing the game for endless hours or by using your credit card? It appeared to me as if some hardcore gamers are quite okay with a game being unfair, as long as that unfairness favors them and their kind.

The only advantage playing a game for longer should be the skill you acquire by practice. Any other bonus you get from grinding is in fact a historical and economical anomaly. The practice will certainly disappear over the coming decade, because it simply isn’t in the interest of game companies to keep doing so. Companies don’t *want* players that use a lot of their bandwidth but give them no money. The only free players they want is those that they are still trying to persuade to cough up some cash.

Fact is that life itself is Pay2Win. In a consumer society, the more money you have, the more luxury you can afford. The whole “American Dream” idea is built around the concept that money is the yardstick for success in life, and that by working hard on pursuits that actually earn you money or improve your chances to earn money later, you are leading a better life. Even the people who would like wealth to be redistributed don’t complain about the fact that more money buys you a better car or the best seats in the theater. So why exactly should video games be exempt from that?

Games went from being fair and balanced to being unfair based on time spent. Now they are moving from there to being unfair based on money spent. People complaining about that on YouTube or various internet forums isn’t going to change that, because millions of people will buy those new games with their new unfairness. Because for millions of people the new unfairness is actually an improvement over the old unfairness. Gaming has become a mass market for the general population, and in the general population there are more people who can afford to spend $100 than there are people who can afford to spend 100 hours. Calling for that to be rolled back to the previous state of unfairness doesn’t even have the benefit of being moral, the moral situation would be games that don’t give you any advantages from neither time nor money.