As gamer anger at micro-transactions grows, one developer has gone against the grain: Gears of War co-creator Cliff Bleszinski.
The outspoken former Epic Games designer wrote an impassioned blog post in defence of micro-transactions and other business practices companies employ, and called on those who don't like them to vote with their wallets.
"The video game industry is just that," he wrote. "An industry."
Bleszinski said game companies "exist to produce, market, and ship great games ultimately for one purpose. First, for money, then, for acclaim".
Micro-transactions are a hot topic following the release of a number of controversial games fuelled by in-app purchases.
EA has come in for particularly scathing stick following the release of Dead Space 3 (which includes micro-transactions), Real Racing 3 (a game crippled by in-app purchases), and ill-advised comments from an executive who confirmed all games made by the company would include micro-transactions.
"I'm going to come right out and say it," Bleszinski wrote. "I'm tired of EA being seen as 'the bad guy'.
"I think it's bull**** that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong.
"Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of Gabe and co... However, it blows my mind that somehow gamers don't seem to get that Valve is a business, just like any other, and when Valve charges $100 for an engagement ring in Team Fortress 2 it's somehow 'cool' yet when EA wants to sell something similar it's seen as 'evil'.
"Yes, guys, I hate to break it to you, as awesome as Valve is they're also a company that seeks to make as much money as possible.
"They're just way better at their image control."
Later in the post, Bleszinski defends Origin, EA's digital platform, and highlights the ridicule Valve's Steam endured in its early days.
He also points to the "rage" from the community when it was revealed that Gears of War 3 would allow players to purchase weapon skins. "In spite of the uproar, people still bought plenty of them. (I've seen the numbers)."
Ultimately, Bleszinski's point is a simple one: "If you don't like EA, don't buy their games."
"If you don't like their micro-transactions, don't spend money on them.
"I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behaviour over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash."
Bleszinski labelled those "currently raging" about micro-transactions on the internet the "vocal minority". "Your average guy that buys just Madden and GTA every year doesn't know, nor does he care. He has no problem throwing a few bucks more at a game because, hey, why not?"
Every game must have a steady stream of DLC, he said, because otherwise it will be traded in or rented. "In the console space you need to do anything to make sure that that disc stays in the tray. I used to be offended by Gamestop's business practices but let's be honest... they're the next Tower Records or Sam Goody. It's only a matter of time.
"I've been transparent with most folks I've worked with in my career as to why I got into this business. First, to make amazing products - because I love the medium more than any. Second, to be visible. I enjoy the notoriety that I've managed to stir up. And finally, yes, to make money. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure is a nice lubricant when you can take that trip you've always wanted or feed your family or pay your bills on time.
"And that brings me full circle to my main point. If you don't like the games, or the sales techniques, don't spend your money on them.
"You vote with your dollars."
Reaction to the blog post has been mixed. Many developers have agreed with Bleszinski's points on Twitter, but some gamers have taken issue. Bleszinski mentioned a thread on NeoGAF, saying on Twitter: "Read the gaf thread as it unfolded. Considered responding. Decided it's a pointless fight. Many there are just so convinced they're right.."
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