I’m critical of mobile games precisely because I’ve played enough to know how they work while also being old enough to know how gaming worked before the concept of DLC was even a thing.
The Jurassic Park reference from earlier was apt: It’s not about asking if the industry could thrive on a MTX heavy model, it’s about asking if they should.
The reality is these games aren’t the best they could be for gamers. Note I said gamers, not the devs, studios, shareholders, etc… Without gamers, you don’t have people to play games. I circle back to my elder gamer knowledge precisely because there was more of a symbiosis in the days of yore compared to today’s predatory hit and run tactics. Not all gamers are whales despite that demographic being the target and significant minority. “They’re paying for the game for us!” doesn’t make us happy when we can literally look at a given game and see how it’s picked apart to trick and/or force us into spending, while knowing we’re getting a lesser experience. No amount of F2P apologist rhetoric changes this.
“Content the majority can’t experience is not content worth developing!” has been a personal mantra of mine regardless of a game’s genre. This includes reaching a state of maximum power within a given game’s progression. Time gating and resource limiting are diametrically opposed to this philosophy because there isn’t really a “grind it out” option that respects both the player’s skill and time. You do your daily chores, get your meager allowance, and hope it’s enough to tempt you back the next day. And if you miss out? Well, the consequences vary per game, but let’s just say they don’t want you to take a break.
Temporary content is otherwise one of mobile gaming’s biggest curses. It’s a tad early to say if D:I intends to fall down this rabbit hole outside of sales, but it’s otherwise one of those “Don’t miss out!” tactics they try to rope people in with. Obviously, when it disappears, it automatically becomes content people can’t experience until it rolls around again, maybe, possibly, you never know with these games. Temporary content is also one of my grossly opposed features of Diablo through seasons. The hook is still the same even if the fisherman isn’t trying to rob you if you get baited.
The easy trap to fall into is that it’s just meant for short sessions here and there. All those little sessions still add up. I’ve dropped mobile games where I found myself having to spend an hour+ a day just doing the chores. Whatever content they did churn out was always pretty bland and uninspiring, while dominated by whales if any kind of ranking was involved. All this every day-ism meant not playing other games. Sometimes I told myself I was saving money, but then, what if I was buying the monthly packs and splurging here and there? Turns out, I was probably spending more than just buying $30-60 game every month or two. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of death by a thousand cuts instead of one singular grievous wound to the wallet.
Nonetheless, gamers aren’t afraid to spend. They just want their money’s worth. And permanence. Mobile games are very much ephemeral even if the most popular have managed to last a number of years. Like whales, those are also a minority.