Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and the Pricing Controversy – Has Konami gone to far?
Games are expensive these days. I recently spent 60 bucks on a game that barely lasted 15 hours, and I hate to sound like an old man, but I got Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for half that price. With rumors of 65 and 70 dollar next gen games, and companies releasing 100 dollar collectors editions that don’t even contain the game, developers are finding more ways to support the rising cost of AAA development. DLC packs, microtransactions, crowdfunding, pay-2-win, the list goes on.
Konami recently released Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, a 20 dollar “prelude” to MGS5 that has resparked the debate about pricing. Some players think that 20 bucks (30 if you buy a physical copy) is too high a price for the length of the game. GZ took me around 2 hours to beat on my first playthough, but the controversial length is padded by “extra-ops” missions on the same map, a hard mode, and a multitude of collectables. With all this, you could easily spend 10+ hours on the game, but many reviewers have called GZ “the best demo ever made,” citing the brief and inconclusive story as unsatisfying.
But the Metal Gear series has never been one to shy away from controversy. From the Raiden bait and switch in MGS2, to the bizarre oedipal romance in 4, the public outcry about GZ is no surprise. From the quick glimpse we got of it, MGS5 will be no different, with sexual violence and child soldiers being major themes. The difference this time is in addition to a racy plot, an “unreasonably” high price tag was pinned on as well.
Let’s get this out of the way, Ground Zeroes is a phenomenal game. GZ just feels lovely to play, it has the best graphics I’ve seen on last gen systems, and it pushes the series forward gameplay and design-wise. Journey, a game in the same price range, has the same playtime with much less replayability, yet the game is universally lauded. So why are people so upset about Ground Zeroes?
Well, the ending just left a poor taste in my mouth. **SPOILERS** GZ goes from a gruesome surgery scene, to references about raping a child, to a brutal death in about 5 minutes. Immediately following that the credits roll. **END SPOILERS** Ending things on such a dark cliffhanger makes it hard to feel positively about the game, no matter how fun it was. Secondly, a lot of gamers are a fickle bunch with lofty expectations. Do you remember the Mass Effect 3 ending sh*t storm? We hold our favorite series dear, and when things are not up to our standards, we complain, a lot.
When it comes down to it, Ground Zeroes is just a big tease. The length was purposefully designed to make you anxious for the coming MGS5: Phantom Pain. The ending of GZ was definitely a punch in the gut, but after I got over all that, all I could do was think about playing Phantom Pain. The game upset a bunch of people, but they had already voted with their dollars, and by the time MGS5 comes out, people will have forgotten all about this and Komani’s pockets will be fat enough to finish the game.