The Unpopular Truth: Charging for Multiplayer in Games is Actually Good

(Written for PixelatedGeek.com - view the original article)

Recently, the decision by Capcom to charge for the ability for players to play a "versus" mode of Resident Evil 5 has drawn fire from critics who state that charging for a feature found in most other games for free is silly, wrong, and in some cases, evil.


I applaud this move by Capcom. I'm a gamer - and by that, I don't mean I buy games and I play games and I enjoy games. I mean that I fill the hours that I'm not actively working by working through games I own, sometimes multiple times, because I adore and love games. I actively dissect every decision by game designers in terms of gameplay, from the simplicity of the gravity in Popcap's Peggle to the complex-yet-beautiful strategy behind beating a Godlike session in Civilization 4. I can still rembemember the elation I felt when I first played X-com, because I play it at least once a month and have since I was 15.

I fully immerse myself in the experience of a well-crafted world when I play games - and the quickest way for me to lose all sense of beauty and begin cursing at the screen is when someone named sUpArJuGgAl012 calls me a "fucking faggot" as he camps the spawn point of the invisibility token in Halo 3. I seriously want to reach through the screen and strangle the little bastard, and even though I can normally restrain myself in deed and action, occasionally the constant barrage of "OH MY GOD YOU ARE SUCH A FAGGOT" coming through my earpiece on Xbox Live causes me to slip and call the tweenybopper on the other end of the com a "little shit" or something similar, at which point his father will hop on the mic and begin abusing me for cursing at his son. And before Halo 3, it was Halo 2, and before that Team Fortress and Counterstrike, and before that, Quake. It's been my entire gaming career.

A five dollar fee to play multiplayer instantly screens the lowest common denominator out of the process of annoying the shit out of me during a game. And I welcome the concept. I'll gladly pay an extra five-spot to instantly be rid of the risk of running into the worst offenders during multiplayer play. And while pay-for-play certainly doesn't necessarily eliminate all the bad apples from the bunch, it certainly raises the barrier for entry by the worst class of people - those who purposely annoy the piss out of people just because it's there to do.

Listen, I work hard all day long for the few dollars I get to spend on games. The last thing I need is to begin hating the one thing that has brought me joy all this time due to morons looking to grief people and teenagers whose parents use games to babysit and raise their hellspawn ruining the experience. So Capcom, charge for versus in Resident Evil 5. I love your game, and I want to keep loving it. And if you can profit by my willingness to be rid of an entire demographic of idiots, well... Around these parts, we call that a "win-win."