Analysis of Game Elements & Mechanics: The Cash Shop


Hey everybody! Shmuel here with this week’s game element! If you’re new to this segment, this is a weekly article that I do on either a game’s elements or mechanics. As you may have noticed, this week is going to be on a game element! Now, the elements of games I’m going to cover may or may not have broad names, meaning sometimes you, the reader, won’t know everything that I’m going to talk about from the title. This week’s topic is straightforward, so let’s jump right it! This weeks topic is, *drumroll*, The Cash Shop!

Now you may be asking, what exactly is the “Cash Shop?” The cash shop is exactly what it sounds like, an in game shop where you use real money to buy things. The most common to place to find a cash shop is in an MMO; a Free To Play MMOs to be exact. Now, in MMOs the items generally found on the cash shop are aesthetics, things that just make you look different, and could possibly be a mount or two. Now, in my eyes, this is acceptable  for MMOs, seeing as Free To Play MMOs don’t generate the most amount of revenue, neither do One Time Buy MMOs. So, when you think about it, this seems like it’s a decent source of revenue. But, for actual Triple A games, which are games that are developed by big name companies and have bigger budgets than most indie developers,  I find this absolutely horrifying. Why? Because, if you see how much money they already generate, people are buying content that was already in the game.

A semi-perfect example of this is “Mass Effect” series. Now, with the second and third “Mass Effect” games, there are certain characters you have to buy to even be able to access any part of their story, or even hear about them. Now, the reason I said it was semi-perfect is because the shop isn’t necessarily in-game. It’s considered DLC, with some characters who were already part of the game, just waiting for the DLC to be downloaded so their story can be started. This just peeves me. Why would you make your fans, or at least the people who bought your game, pay extra for characters that are already in the game? We see more and more developers pushing this onto people these days, and surprisingly enough, people come back for more. This encourages the developers to give us half of a game, and sell us the rest as DLC, which is completely outrageous.

So what’s the big deal? You pay a couple extra bucks than you normally would to get the rest of the game, so what? What’s wrong is that you end up not only paying a full $60 for a game, but another $10 and up for the rest of it. A perfect example of just how much something can cost with DLC is “Borderlands 2“. It costs about $100 including the Season Pass, which gets you the DLC automatically when it comes out.  Asking for $100 is absolutely nuts when it comes to buying a game like this. Not everyone has this kind of money, and those that don’t can miss out on huge portions of the game because of it.

Now, for the nice and pampered kids out there, me being one of them, getting a game like this isn’t hard, but think of the adults that pay for it. Expecting to only pay the usual 60$ for a game, end up paying much more than they thought, just because the developers thought that it was a good idea to take a big chunk of the game out and put a price tag on it.

Now you may say, “Oh, isn’t that just an expansion pack?” Most people don’t even know what an expansion pack is these days. An expansion pack is like another game added to the game itself, to either continue the story, or show  different parts of the game that are not normally seen, like the antagonist’s perspective. A DLC gives you a part of the game that, usually, was taken out during development and is sold back to you. An expansion pack gives you a whole new part of the game, generally developed after the game has been finished. See the difference?

I realize I got a little off topic, but my main point is that the cash shop is both a good and bad thing. For those who don’t make a massive amount of money, such as Free To Play MMOs, to sell aesthetics is fine. For those who develop Triple A games to give you pieces of a game made during the development is a disgusting business practice that rips people off. Sometimes this DLC even gives people an edge over their friends in the game, and makes the game so much easier than it should be.

Thank you for reading this weeks article! Please leave a comment below, or on Facebook of what you thought, and if you have any suggestions on what I should cover next! This is Shmuel, signing off!