Timbone Tonight: Shadow of Shady Practices

Tim Benson, Contributing Writer

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If you haven’t heard by now, there is a new game coming out called Middle-earth: Shadow of War. It is coming out to all platforms such as PS4, Xbox, and Steam. The game itself is coming out 10/10/2017. Yet, before it is even released, it is receiving a ton of negative attention. This needs to be said because what is happening behind the scenes of this game is appalling. The lighter stuff is the microtransactions in a single player game, but the worst part is, WB Entertainment may be potentially earning money off the death of one of Monolith’s developers Mike Forgey. But first, let’s take a look at the lighter acts of distasteful business practices.  

It is known that the gaming industry is trying to make an extra buck through a system called loot boxes. They are mainly put into multiplayer games and they consist of different skins and cosmetics. The problem with this is, it is borderline gambling and the house always wins. You are paying money and only possibly getting something in return. How would you feel if you gave a clerk $10 for a cheeseburger and she gives you frog legs stew instead? You are never guaranteed to get an item that you want. Not to mention, you are usually left with a little extra money, to give you incentive to spend more. The entirety of loot boxes is to stimulate the gambling bug in your brain. It’s a way to keep giving WB more money for little work on a consistent basis. This means that they are making a ton of money selling loot boxes to people. This is a key note to keep in mind.  

Then there are the multiple editions to this game. The normal copy $59.99, Silver Edition is $79.99 and the gold is $99.99. All with different down loadable content (DLC) that will cost extra if not bought in the package deal. Finally, for the Xbox One users, you can get a pre-order deluxe edition called “My Precious” that comes with a ring for the low, low, price of $119.99. Different things come with different content. Implying that you are not getting the total experience if you are not willing to drop at least $99.99 for this. This is the same publishers that put one-button instant kills that you can buy in Mortal Kombat X. As stated earlier, WB has money and they find new ways to keep getting the consumer to give them more. This is where WB goes from shady publisher to downright terrible human beings.
According to his family’s YouCaring page, Mike Forgey was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. It is a very aggressive form of cancer. He recently passed away due to this cancer. He was part of the development team on Shadow of War at Monolith Studios. He was known for coming in and helping out whenever there was trouble. He has worked on many games like Gears of War 1 and 2, Fable, and Shadow of Morodor. So, to memorialize him, Monolith made a character orc in the game after him named The Forthog Orc-Slayer. This was an act of kindness by the developers to remember a comrade and a friend. It is both touching and beautiful to see. However, WB decided take this good gesture and destroy it by making it paid DLC for $4.99. The proceeds would go to the family of Mike Forgey. Yet, that is not all particularly true. The states of AL, HI, IL, MA, MS, SC will not be doing this. Not to mention that 30% ($1.50) is still going to the platform holders so the family is receiving only $3.50. In addition to this shady practice, consumers will see that they are in fact, making money off of the death of a person. I don’t know all the state laws; however, in Illinois there is a charity gaming license that you need to pay for. It is $400 for 2 years. Is this the reason why WB did not bother to allow proceeds go to the family? It would make sense that WB would not want to pay extra money to go to charity. Even though this game has microtransactions in it and they would easily make up the money again within the first month, they wanted to keep a little of that money and because of it, they are now generating negative feedback.  

This whole thing is a real tragedy. The family of Forgey should not have to deal with him being a face to shady business practices in the video game industry. They clearly have a lot more to think about than a video game. WB could have gone in any direction to help. They could have donated to his family’s crowdfunding page (youcaring.com/Michael-Forgey). That would have brought better press and showed more compassion for it. In fact, the DLC should be free in the first place. Not only would this have been more respectable, but it would have avoided this nasty mess. If you care about this person then please, spend your money on the crowdfunding page and not Shadow of War. Michal Forgey’s family needs the help more than WB executives need a new car.

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Timbone Tonight: Shadow of Shady Practices