[From the Vault] Rant: More Money Than Sense


(Editor’s Note: This piece is an unpublished rant from 2013 that I decided to release because it is mostly finished albeit a giant text of complaints, I feel it still holds true today. The story below is true.)

I had an epiphany moment way back when Final Fantasy XIV first came out in 2010 that drastically changed my view on gaming and a notable portion of the gaming community. I came across a thread on the official FFXIV forums where a guy was complaining that Square Enix wouldn’t give him a refund despite the game being in poor condition. He explained in the original post that he knew of the game’s problems during beta, and even participated in almost every phase, but decided to pre-purchase with the hopes that they would be fixed by the time the game launched. They weren’t, so he wanted his money back. Understandable. While few would disagree that Final Fantasy XIV had major problems in its first iteration and was without a doubt a trainwreck, just keep reading. I wouldn’t be telling this if it didn’t get better. One of the users asked what exactly he found wrong with the game. His response? The slow combat system, the slow leveling, the individual profession levels, everything about crafting, the graphics, the lack of open world pvp, the lack of open worlds period, leve quests, traditional questing, story-driven quests, reliance on crafting, lack of looting players, and a few other things I may be forgetting. In other words, the entire game.

Personally I found this man astounding. What he wanted was Final Fantasy married to Darkfall, a hardcore sandbox pvp MMO, and apparently gave serious expectation that Square Enix would suddenly transform every single aspect between open beta and launch. I can see a guy who plays a beta, sees some features that aren’t available immediately or are buggy or broken or needs to be balanced, but buys the game to get in early because he expects those bugs to be fixed later on. That kind of disappointment I can agree with. What this guy wanted was a fundamental rewrite of the entire game. But boy howdy, does it get better. Just keep reading.

Eventually someone in the thread said “count it as a $50 lesson in spending your money wisely.” He didn’t spend fifty bucks. After our friend played through most of the beta phases, found not a single redeeming quality in his words, he went ahead and ordered the collector’s edition and loaded his account with a couple hundred dollars in Crysta. Not only that, but he did the same for his wife who similarly hated every part of the experience. Just sit back and let that sink in. Putting six hundred (at least) down on a video game that you didn’t like. Six hundred bucks. Ten new games, or two hundred on your average Steam sale. Several months of car payments. Many massage appointments to soothe your temper. I don’t know. The last thing I spent over six hundred dollars on in one go was a down payment on my car.

I saw a few people in the thread at this point calling the man delusional, and I have to agree with them. He genuinely believed that FFXIV would suddenly transform into an entirely new game literally overnight, against all evidence to the contrary, and was willing to bet six hundred bucks on it. When pressed on why he wasted so much money if he hated the game, the guy responded “it’s my money, I decide how I spend it, not you.” Fair enough, no one is trying to tell him how to spend his money. A little defensive of an answer for someone who believes to be in the right, I must say. Now, you may be thinking “oh this guy is probably rich,” and you would be correct. Pressed further on the matter, he admitted that six hundred dollars “was basically nothing” to him compared to his weekly income, but that his demand for a refund was on principle rather than price.

Three years later and I still think about this gentleman because his thread opened me to the ocean of people with more money in their wallet than common sense in their head. I saw it from people purchasing lifetime subscriptions to games that they had either not played, or had played and did not like. In people purchasing multiple copies of Star Trek Online just to get their hands on the multiple store-specific cosmetics, only for Cryptic to add them to the cash shop later on. In people setting up multiple accounts for WWII Online and Warhammer Online as a “donation” to keep the game running. Spending into the triple digits on a Kickstarter of a game that they might not even like in return for some cosmetics.

Other than that I have no opinion on the matter.

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  • Remarkably, its people like this who are the real customers of game studios. Expect game design to continue to bend towards catering to them.