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Should We Tip For Great Games?

Oh lord, keep with me on this one, people. Tipping is controversial at the best of times. A suggestion that we bring a tip option to video games is going to be met with all kinds of resistance. But you know, it makes sense.


When we look back over the last decade or so, it’s obvious that something was going to give. Games have become more expensive to make at the same time as gamers coming to expect more for their money. A solution where you can pay an amount of your choosing as a thank you to the developer or publisher if you feel it deserves more than you paid seems pretty inoffensive. It costs them nothing, unlike DLC. And ideally it’s such a rare, personal thing that most people don’t even notice it’s there.

Notice that word ‘ideally’? Yeah.

This has been suggested by former Blizzard president Mike Ybarra. It’s certainly something to think about. It’s an elegant, simple idea, like all great ideas are. And you know the only thing that ruins it? That it’d have to implemented by people. And used by people.

And people absolutely stink.

Let’s start with the positives, because in a bubble I love this idea. I’d use it extremely rarely, and mostly for projects that I think need the support. The Metal Gear Solid collection was met with massive negativity because pixel counters and amateur critics were desperate to tear it apart. They had valid complaints, but the anger was all out of proportion. I played Metal Gear Solid and all the VR Missions and loved them while they spent hours writing essays online. I’d have tipped Konami for that experience. I want a second collection, and I loved it that much, and the negativity was that bad.

Should We Tip?

And that’s the thing, that’s such a personal experience. I hadn’t played the PS1 version of MGS all the way through for 15 years. I’d never finished all the hundreds of VR missions. It was an incredible experience, and likely a once in a generation thing. Tip away.

But there are two problems with this idea. Gamers and publishers. I’m going to start with the gamers, because it’s easy.

The denizens of gaming communities are already so utterly entitled, that adding an additional pay system would destroy any remaining sanity in the situation. Imagine someone who tips their life savings into some Lollypop Chainsaw clone because – well, because obvious reasons. And then there’s a moment at the end that maybe feels like it’s approaching a message. Or maybe the game just isn’t very good. Man oh man, the meltdowns.

And while that would be pathetic on an individual level, the real risk has nothing to do with that guy. It’d make individual developer’s lives hell, but maybe the positives outweigh the negatives. It’s the publishers you have to watch out for.

Let’s pick a company at random. Let’s say Blizzard. You know that company that took a popular game like Overwatch and stripped away all good will so they could nickel and dime people with a “sequel” that was anything but?

What would a company like that do with an option that allowed people to pay more than the already included purchase options?

Don’t answer. They’re reading, and it’ll be implemented way faster than any fix ever would be.

And that’s why we don’t tip. Because at the end of the day, we really can’t just have something nice.


Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott