Skylanders shouldn’t be embraced, it should be shunned

I’ve been mostly checked out of the MMO blogging world this past week but when I dropped in, it seemed like Skylanders had suddenly taken my “must read” list by storm. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to be on any merit of it’s own, but more of in the CCG, Gotta Catch ‘Em All, type way. That said, the gameplay could be fantastic and I’d still say Skylanders is should be shunned and certainly not encouraged.

In a world of exploitative DLC, Skylanders is probably the worst yet.  In case you happen to be late to the party, too, it essentially goes something like this: Pay $70 for a “starter kit” which features  several tiny action figures whose digital versions are already installed on the disk but unavailable. Stick the toys in a special box and connect it to the console. Bada bing, bada boom you just paid an extra ten bucks for some action figures. Not much different than buying a collector’s edition. The problem is that there are lots of other characters already on the disc too, but to access them you must first pay $8 for each little doll. The entire game is built around buying these extra little toys. At eight dollars a pop. Each.

This is worse than on-disc DLC; far worse. It’s a baby step into the realm of CCGing video games. If this is a hit, parents everywhere will again be pressure to buy another little doodad to keep up with the Jones’. What makes it worse than DLC, though, is that to access all of the content that you already paid for, you’re stuck buying 8 additional dolls. All the sudden “acceptable pricing” just jumped from $60 to $130. And there will be more. $130 is just the beginning, especially if it’s a hit. None of this would be a problem if the starter bundle wasn’t already $70.

It is absolutely stupifying that people actually think combining the CCG model with video games is a good idea. I respect that some people find this stuff affordable and fun. Let’s not send any messages to the industry, though, if you please. The DLC situation is bad enough; buying a game doesn’t really buy a game anymore because there’s a $15 character skin around the next corner or — gasp — an hour of story content probably better left on the cutting room floor. Giving developers yet another way to suck our wallets dry with the smallest effort possible is BAD for the industry and worse for gamers.

That said, I DO see kids loving this and if you buy it for your child, well, I can’t say I don’t understand. Making kids happy is a wonderful thing. Buying into this because it “calls to your inner child” only promotes something detrimental and harmful to yourself in the long run. Unless, of course, you like wasting money to get what’s already on the disc. In which case, I’m sure there are plenty of companies willing to sell you an extra mission or two for another $30. In every game you buy.

In short, Skylanders only pushes the perceived value of video games higher. Think Bobby Kotick won’t notice you’re invested $90 in the doll game? Think again.


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