In the past I have been a huge advocate for consumer rights in an industry that is increasingly trying to draw as much income from each player as possible. From the former reign of Online Passes, to the attempted DRM policies of the Xbox One, this industry has shown a sort of contempt for its consumer base in recent years. Now more than ever it has been important to be mindful of buying choices, and the power one can send by not supporting bad business practices while also being vocal about it.

I always wondered how people could continue to support these things without realizing the potentially damaging long term effects of their choices. I mean, whenever a company has done something I disagreed with, I have typically chosen to not support that company. Case in point: I was very interested in a new Sim City, but after the game’s disastrous launch, due to its always online requirement, I did not purchase it, nor will I in the future. This is just one of the many times that I have completely written off a game due to what I have believed are consumer unfriendly practices.



Which leads me to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. In order to properly make my point, I want to tell you a little bit about my history with the series.

My first exposure to the the Metal Gear series was the Playstation Underground Jampack Winter '98 demo disc. The title was a mouthful and, like most things in the 90s, it had an air about it that screamed “This is totally rad,” but what attracted me to it most as a kid was that it had 10 playable demos on the disc and was only $4.99. I could make quite the case to my mom at the time to buy it for me at that price. Being about 8 years old at the time, I was really mostly interested in the Spyro The Dragon demo over everything else. I would eventually go on to enjoy many of the other demos on the disc, but the one that stood out the most for me, the one that was the coolest, weirdest, and most unique of them all was game called Metal Gear Solid. I was an instant fan and would go on to enjoy many of the game’s sequels.



So when Game Informer revealed that the single player campaign in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was only two hours long, I found myself at odds with the idea that the best versions of the game would cost $39.99 whilst being so devoid of content.I have not played the game as of this writing, but I understand there are extra missions and challenge modes in the vein of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. I don’t know how much of this content there is, but even if it extended the longevity of the title by 3-4 hours I still believe that it would come up short of expectations.

It should be stated that before February 25th, there were 4 price points for this game across multiple platforms.

PS3/360 Digital version: $19.99

PS3/360 Physical version: $29.99

PS4/X1 Digital version: $29.99

PS4/X1 Physical version: $39.99

The PS4/X1 Physical copies have now had their prices lowered to $29.99. I firmly believe that this is due to the large outcry of the fanbase lamenting the game’s proposed length, and I commend Konami for recognizing consumers’ concerns.

I am usually not one to use the “Gameplay per Square Foot” scale in determining my purchases, but a case like this struck me as particularly egregious. Gaming can be an expensive hobby and no one wants to spend money on a game that they can’t get a lot out of. I am a firm believer in a smaller crafted experience being just as good as a large “make your own adventure” sort of game in most cases, so it is easy for me to apologize for Ground Zeroes… well, sort of. There is definitely a line to be drawn in the sand for most people. For example, if Journey or Portal had been $39.99 - $59.99, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed them as much.



You see, Metal Gear is my Achilles heel, my kryptonite, the stinger missile to my REX. I could go on all day about bad industry practices and how they try to screw the consumer and in the same day not have a problem with buying Zone of the Enders for the MGS2 demo, or the Zone of the Enders HD Collection to try out Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Above all else and in spite of its evident shortcomings, I will be buying the somewhat content deprived Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The truth is that I would have spent upwards of $59.99 on it, and if there was a collectors edition in the US, I would get that too. In fact, the thought of importing the Japanese premium edition has crossed my mind more than once.

I know what you are thinking as you read this, and you are right. I am a hypocrite. I think it is deeper than that, though. Everyone who is a fan of gaming has that one series that they love above all else. For some it may be a more common series like Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Call of Duty, but for others it might be niche or one-off games. No matter what series a person likes, I believe they all have one thing in common: they want to see another game in the franchise. The engine that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain run on has been in development for a number of years, so maybe this is a concerted effort to recoup some of those costs.


As a fan of the franchise, I want to see many more Metal Gear games in the future so I feel almost obligated to support the developer by buying the game. I think this is a common feeling among fans of any franchise. That said, I think we as fans have a responsibility to ourselves to think about what we want our favorite franchises to become. Our purchasing decisions, more than anything else, send a message to a company that the practices they are engaged in are accepted.By defending a bad practice online just because we like the franchise and want to see more of it, we’re actually doing the product a disservice.

The advent of social media has fundamentally changed the relationship between fans and creators. Publishers and developers are able to see reactions to announcements and impressions of games immediately after the fact through Twitter, Facebook, and message boards. A common reaction from fans on these forums is to immediately jump to the defense of the company who makes the game they like. This is not to say that they shouldn't, but I believe it to be a hasty reaction in most circumstances and a consequence of not reading the situation with a critical eye first. More and more, developers and publishers are relying on these outlets to gauge the consumer/fan reaction to their games/announcements, and taking that input into account for future product development.

Having said that, I think it is important to avoid being disingenuous when discussing a game you like on one of these outlets. Coming up with fallacies and strawmen when defending a title gives the sense that it could have done no wrong in the first place, and developers take that as a positive reaction to bad news. As stated above, this does a disservice to the game you are discussing and ultimately the franchise at large.


Konami has acknowledged that there was a problem with the price of the game by lowering the pricing for the PS4/X1 versions, but I doubt that would have happened without the massive amount of disapproval from fans and casual consumers alike being expressed online. Unfortunately, I feel that it was too late in the game’s development to add more meaningful content to Ground Zeroes, so it was probably the least they could do in this situation.

It has been hard to balance my fandom for Metal Gear with my belief that consumers owe it to themselves to stand against bad business practices. I urge fans to think about what they want a series to be, and what they are okay with it becoming in the future. It is important to build their choices and support of a franchise around that ideal. Fans of any franchise can be the harshest critics of the things they like, and it is important that we exercise this when it comes to decisions that will affect not only our favorite franchises, but the industry as a whole moving forward.

References - Game Informer (On length of game), Game Informer (On price change), Kotaku (Image)

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