Development is a tricky thing. I like to see a lot of project managers who don't touch video games as demons who just whore themselves out to the closest trend they could possibly get their hands on. Thanks to this concept of having to be better than one another, we have seen a lot of terrible games released. Most of them we never even asked for in the first place. We have all of these first person shooters (FPS) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) titles surfacing all around the market these days for the same reason why Assassin's Creed had a multiplayer mode. By not including a multiplayer mode in mostly single player games, releasing a MOBA, or even developing some sort of free-to-play title (F2P), you're leaving money on the table.
Although the origins of this phrase is pretty unknown, it is used universally in various industries. In this specific case, leaving money on the table is an excuse that companies use in order to justify adding something into a game, or working on a different game all together. For instance, that Assassin's Creed example I gave above. Another example: season passes.
Season passes have become a thing "almost" of the past, but they keep on coming up for several games. Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Ubisoft's next game: The Division; all have some sort of pass connected to it. Season passes give you all the content that will be released for that specific game usually for a full year. The problem is that you're paying for it blindly. You don't even know what the content exactly is. Sometimes there are exceptions, but most of the time you're only saving maybe $10 a year as opposed to buying each piece as they are released. Why would a company even bother doing this? Because if they don't, they are leaving money on the table.
In our video game collective minds, we know that season passes are not worth getting. Some people who aren't so game savvy might pick up the pass as a gift, which is still cool for whoever gets it. On a rare occasion, few companies actually offer other benefits for buying in. Battlefield gave players additional gear or skins on a monthly basis. Destiny gave people a fancy sparrow to ride around on. And The Division will be releasing monthly content for their season pass holders as well. Call of Duty, on the other hand, doesn't offer you anything besides a weapon skin that you will only use for a couple of matches before you unlock the color you really want. At a $50 price point, it's harder to buy in, since that is only ten dollars less than the full game, making you pay almost $110 for a "complete experience" that isn't "complete" until a year later. Once again, money, table... you got it, right?
Those aren't the only things we have received due to the changing of trends and their importance to making money. Remember, "leaving money on the table" says that by not including something, you're going to lose money that is so easy to get. That is why other games have opted to go with micro-transactions; yes, the devil's other favorite word.
Micro-transactions started picking up pace on mobile platforms. With games like Candy Crush Saga pulling in $1.5 billion a year and Clash of Clans pulling in almost two million dollars a day, it's easy to see why a company would want to go that route. For those unfamiliar, in Candy Crush Saga you would pay a couple of dollars to get additional lives instead of waiting an hour or two to play again. Clash of Clans would make you wait hours before you actually have a building constructed and ready to use. In order to get around the wait time or even get additional resources, you would have to pay money. These games are advertised as free to play, but most of the time require some form of currency in order to have a positive experience.
Games like Halo 5, Destiny, and even Assassin's Creed Unity had micro-transactions. Although developers are claiming that due to these micro-transactions, people could expect free content on a more regular basis. As long as the company is making enough money to keep these updates rolling out, this could be the more optimal choice for developers and players without "leaving money on the table."
We have to realize something, things like downloadable content, micro-transactions, and season passes will never go away. They are going to be around till the day we die. We don't live in the 90's anymore, where games were released and that was it, nothing more until the next game came out. Companies are going to work harder and harder to get your money one way or another. I'm not telling you that you have to buy in, because that choice is ultimately yours and it doesn't effect how I enjoy a game or what I decide to purchase. What I am saying is to not be surprised when more drastic measures are taken by companies, and for us to stand up against these poorly made decisions when they are ever so present.
Thank you for reading,