Bad game design choices: Pay to Win

This is probably the worst design choice you can ever make in video game design history. I should have covered this earlier, because of how severe this problem is and hardly anyone really understands the real problems with it, but whatever lets get to the point why "Pay to Win" is so bad.

Lets make it short: Pay to Win is a bad design choice, because it ruins the whole point of the game. Most games with Pay to Win are competitive games, which means you compete with others and the whole point is to compete against others, which means you need others to measure your performance, however with Pay to Win this becomes basically impossible. Why does Pay to Win make competitive games impossible? Because there is no way to measure your performance anymore, for example if you lose you no longer know that you really lost, because the enemy could be having a Pay to Win advantage and without the advantage you would have won. It is the same problem the other way around, if you pay for advantages you also do not know, if you are really winning, but this way around most people probably do not complain, since they like to win too much, that they are satisfied with lying to themselves.

Most people only complain that Pay to Win games cost to much money, but that is not even the issue, not at all. It is irrelevant how expensive a game is as long as it is equal for everyone, I mean not equally expensive, but equal in what you get. Sure having games be more expensive is bad for the consumer, but this does not really ruin the game itself. The game world is its own independent universe you go into to escape the real world struggle for money and power and so on. Well at least that is what it was in the past or what it should be, but that is no longer the case since with Pay to Win you bring all the real world problems into the video game world as well. For example one gamer may be poor, but in a video game he can become rich and win in that game against people who are richer than him in real life. Another example is someone who is a loser in real life, can become a winner in the video game world, at least he has an equal chance to do so. Well all those people no longer can escape reality, since the people who are rich winner in real life, will also be rich and winners in the video game world, because they can just buy it.

We did not even get to the worst part yet, the worst part is probably that the game is no more fun, because it just has become unfair. Not only that, but the game becomes into something like the real life is as well, a struggle for domination and bullying others. People no longer enjoy going into a different virtual world and play around in an even playing field anymore, but instead it becomes mostly about dominating others and making them suffer without them having much chance to fight back, well unless they pay, which makes them suffer in another way.

Then what was originally a game has become serious and is no longer a game, since real money is involved and it basically becomes a business battle. Serious means, less fun, in fact Pay to Win games are intentionally designed to be not fun and cause suffering to the consumer, which then forces him into paying more. So Pay to Win, does not make the games bad by itself, no if a game has Pay to Win, the developers also intentionally make it even worse, to coerce players to pay more so they get the fun back that was intentionally stolen from them. Sure this mechanism is not obvious to many people, because at first the game is designed to be fun, only in the long run it becomes worse and the game tries to trick you into paying, that time delay makes the mechanism less obvious to players.

We talked so much about competitive multiplayer games and you may wonder how Pay to Win is so bad for all the other games or at least partly game mechanics that are not strictly competitive multiplayer, well for those cases there are reasons as well. Lets imagine how a non competitive and/or single player game tricks people into paying? Well you need to remove features that are originally there and create a paywall, so people buy a game not knowing they have to pay more in the long run to get all the features, which is kind of unfair already. Another really bad part is, that the game can be made intentionally too hard, to also trick people into paying to make it easier again. In the end the player ruins the gaming experience for himself through paying for progress which basically makes the whole point of the game useless. The challenge of the game is to play through it, not to pay to unlock the playthrough without playing it or playing as you are supposed to do.

However in reality there is not really a distinction here, because every game is more or less competitive and multiplayer, even if it is all single player you compete with the computer or compete with yourself to achieve a high score you then can show off to others, but with Pay to Win of course this also all becomes pointless and you are just cheating yourself and others, which brings us to probably the worst factor Pay to Win brings us and this is that it legitimizes cheating. Normally cheating was frowned upon in games since forever, well it still may be, at least in the way you are not supposed to, but it is encouraged in the way you are supposed to now through the build in Pay to Win cheat system.

Can it get any worse? Of course it can, Pay to Win likely increases the rate of illegitimate cheating as well, since there is now much more motivation to do so, because you can earn money with it or at least get something that normally would cost money. But in both cases, no matter if you pay to cheat or cheat in an illegal way, you are ruining the fun even more in both cases.

And finally the more Pay to Win exists the harder it is to get rid of it, because Pay to Win earns the video game companies much more money now, that you can hardly even compete anymore in the market without using Pay to Win in some form.

And finally finally the worst part is probably the social engineering factor, since I noticed a change in peoples mentality and many do not even know anymore what a game is or what playing is. I mean think about it, why were virtual game worlds invented? To escape the real world and to do things you cannot do in real life without having to worry about the consequences, but with Pay to Win you bring those problems into the game world as well, destroying the main point of having separate virtual worlds.

So lets summarize what Pay to Win does so far:

1. Games become pointless, because you no longer can measure your success.
2. Games become more expensive for the consumer overall.
3. Games become less fun.
4. Games are no longer games, they are serious.
5. Games are intentionally designed to be worse now.
6. Games deceive you about what you need to pay to get the full experience.
7. Games encourage and/or legitimize cheating.
8. Games increasingly become more Pay to Win and over time it becomes harder to undo the damage.
9. Overall human society gets worse.
10. Games become pointless overall.

As you can see, one "little" bad design choice can trigger a whole cycle of doom that makes everything worse and it brainwashes people into thinking that this is normal and that it cannot be different or ever was different. Pay to Win was one of the main motivators to me to create Uebergame, since the industry most likely will not solve the problem, because it can't, since they need to make money, but sadly now that motivator is a bit gone now, since I noticed the change in peoples mentality which makes that they do not even want to change to situation and they like Pay to Win. People overall seem to have a cheater mentality and the industry appeals to them somehow. So it may not even be the industry who is solely at fault here, but it is a problem in humanity itself. So I can just hope this article discourages someone to not develop with Pay to Win or to not play Pay to Win games anymore.

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