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'Braid' creator condemns 'FarmVille' and 'Plants vs. Zombies 2' microtransaction

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Jonathan Blow, the creator of the indie sidescroller 'Braid,' criticized "FarmVille" and "Plants vs Zombies 2" in a recent academic presentation posted Tuesday, for their emphasis on microtransactions.

Fully presented on the University of California at San Diego's website, Blow's harsh words towards the popular Facebook games were spoken during a public Neuroethics Society meeting last November. On Zynga's "FarmVille," Blow said the free-to-play game is not really a game at all and its intentions are "actually kind of malicious."

If you look at a game like Farmville, there's actually no game there. It's just reward structure layered on reward structure layered on reward structure with a hollow center. All they're trying to do is get you to either give them money or pull friends into the game in order to potentially, eventually give them money.

Blow shared similar issues with EA and PopCap Games' "Plants vs Zombies 2" for forcing players to learn how to spend money on virtual items to complete its tutorial, despite it being unnecessary to finish the game.

This is a way that they're trying to profit from you. And they know that rather than just tell you how to do this; when they can make you perform an action that they want you to perform later, you've crossed a barrier, you've broken an initial resistance, and it's easier to get you to do stuff later.

Despite criticism towards heavy use of microtransactions in games like "FarmVille" and "Plants vs Zombies 2," the practice was shown to be satisfying by in-app spenders. Microtransactions have also spread itself feverishly from mobile to console gaming, such as "Killer Instinct," "Forza Motorsport 5," and "Gran Turismo 6."

Blow's next game, "The Witness," is set to release this year as a timed-exclusive for the PlayStation 4.


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