Freemium isn’t free

While I finally got to playing through GTA V, I also found another game worth my time: Marvel Heroes 2015. It’s a free to play game made by some previous Diablo II developers and is, of course, an ARPG with Marvel characters. Not that I care about Marvel comics or super heroes in general, but it’s a nice distraction between longer AAA sessions. I can say that I enjoyed it quite a bit over the last few days – an hour here, another there, that’s all I need.

One thing annoys me, though: thanks to the tons of loot you get, inventory space is extremely limited, and so is bank space. While you can’t upgrade the inventory at all, you can unlock bank slots, but they cost real money. And that’s something that bothers me.


Don’t look too close, there’s a lot of rubbish in that collection.

I spend a lot of money on games. I have a huge collection of Xbox 360 titles – way more than I should ever have bought, but that’s the collector in me. As you can see on the photo, I also spent a ton of money on Skylanders figures – probably the most blatant pay-to-win series of games I’ve ever seen. Just two days ago I dropped €50 on three console games without thinking twice – and while I am playing one of them (GTA V) right now, I am not so sure when I’ll find time to play the other two (The Wolf Among Us and Wolfenstein: The New Order, if you must know).


Much games. So wow.

My Steam library is home to almost 500 games – most of which I have never played and have no desire to. I don’t even know when or how I got most of them.

A few years ago I had an active monthly subscription to World of Warcraft for months, but I barely logged on. I didn’t mind paying, because I was sure I’d come back anyway.


So when I spend so much money on games I barely play or don’t even care for, why do I have such an issue paying for bank space in Marvel Heroes 2015? I didn’t pay a cent for the game, there is no subscription required and I won’t buy tons of heroes or costumes because I am perfectly fine with the grind aspect and unlocking random ones by playing, so why is it that I just can’t seem to drop $20 on a few bank slots so I can enjoy the game more?


The problem: so much loot, so little space. Every dungeon run means I have to do 5 minutes of inventory tetris, and that sucks.

I can only assume it’s because my mindset is still “basic features should be free” – and let’s face it, “basic features” in ARPGs are inventory and bank space. Isn’t it enough to have to pay for playable characters? I am also wary of paying ~$2.50 $5.00 for one bank slot because I know myself. I like to keep stuff, and in order to keep more stuff I need more bank space. Things like that tend to spiral out of control quickly, which is why I tend to stay away from them. On the other hand, I would never have looked at Marvel Heroes if it wasn’t free to play. And I guess paying a little – like the mentioned $20 – would be fair if I enjoy playing, right?

Still, I am not convinced. The entire business model just feels like extortion to me – if I want to keep playing, I can either pay up or face the numerous consequences that arise from being unable to even store the most basic things in a game with lots of things to store. I feel like if I do as they want me to, I am supporting that kind of business model, and that’s just not right. Five bucks just for a bit of convenience (or actually quite a lot of convenience given how the game is set up) seems to be a rather steep fee as well. On the other hand, the game’s so much fun … it’s the first freemium game I actually enjoy, with the exception of Team Fortress 2 but I don’t really count that as “free to play” because paying doesn’t do anything.

This kind of sucks and it’s also a new kind of dilemma for me. In my opinion, games should be about having fun, not about having to think how much I have to pay to have more fun.

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