It is hard to believe that I started my column just over a year ago talking about Final Fantasy using Butterfingers for DLC content. Well, life is full circle because here we go again. It was announced that Final Fantasy XIV will be selling Butterfingers in order to get a special mount. This makes me angry as I had a feeling this would happen as mentioned in my previous column.
This one is slightly less expensive as it is unlocked after spending five dollars. However, there are only just under 200,000 units. I just don’t understand the need for artificial scarcity. There are more than 200,000 Final Fantasy fans so they will sell. I also don’t understand the need for Final Fantasy to constantly sell themselves to corporations with promotions. That is two campaigns that involve Butterfinger, one also involved soft drinks as well, and then there is the infamous Cup Noodle.
Square Enix is quickly becoming a symbol of what is wrong with the game industry today. Buying a game is never enough. Now they have to bombard us with alternative, limited edition DLC that requires us buying third party items or spending twice on a game. As an older gamer, I remember when bonus content was locked behind skills challenges and you earned them for putting in time and effort. Now, it is literally, how fast can I get to the grocery store and buy a few nasty candy bars.
I understand that money is tight and that sometimes you have to have sponsorships to ease the burden, but why go this way? Why subject the fan base to these shameless sales tactics, or doing what the NBA 2K series does in making players watch unskippable ads between games. Getting away from advertisements is one of the main reasons people love playing games. Games don’t have commercial breaks. Nobody would have been happy if Skyrim made you watch a Pepsi commercial whenever you accepted a quest.
Of course, video games are not the only media that is guilty of doing things like this. Magic: The Gathering has done special Godzilla and Walking Dead crossover releases to bait fans into buying things. Much like the games industry, the pursuit of maximizing profit has had a direct impact on the physical Magic card game. I have played Magic and video games for most of my life and I feel like both are actively being ruined.
Now sure, the counter argument is that it’s just a cosmetic mount, so who cares? While this is a true statement, it also misses the point. It is just a cosmetic item that is limited…for now. But this model could easily turn into allowing only a certain number of people who shell out extra money to get special bonus chapters of the story that other players won’t.
If you use Magic as a case study, here is a timeline of how things went. First, they introduced the mythic rare rarity (before it was just common, uncommon and rare) which led to rares losing a lot of value and the mythic rares gaining value. These mythics (which you could get between two and five out of every 36 packs [about $180]) were then replaced by masterpiece cards that which you could, in theory, get 1 in every 144 packs (about $720!).
They started off making these new cards tempting by making them reprints of in-demand cards where there were no other packs to get them in. Now there are collectors’ packs, special masterpiece cards that are even harder to get, and they removed MSRP so the price just shot into the stratosphere.
Will Final Fantasy get this bad… probably not. But the problem is this type of marketing works as Magic just turned in its most profitable year since its creation in 1991. What is to stop Final Fantasy, Fallout, Elder Scrolls and other games with fervent fanbases from milking the cash cow? I guess, in short, if you see a game coming out you love, then you better create a Butterfinger nest egg fund just in case you have to go buy a pallet of candy bars to get that cool bonus weapon or horse where there are only like 200 of for no reason what so ever.
Stay safe gamers and until next time, this is a tired gamer signing off to go gripe in person at anyone else who will listen.
Developers: Square Enix