The Dumb Sparklepony and 25 Better Options
I truly don’t care about this stupid horse thing except it’s twenty-five dollars.
So I’m not going to convince you that it’s a double standard to complain about microtransactions with one side of your mouth and rush to get out your credit card with the other.
Instead, I’m going to point out twenty-five other things that cost $25 or less and are worth more.
- Final Fantasy X. If you don’t mind a linear game experience and want some genuinely interesting combat strategy and a moving story, here you go. Enjoy the next forty-odd hours of entertainment.
- Final Fantasy XII. If you want something much more open that still has interesting combat, a moving story, and as a bonus it includes Ashe. (I like Ashe.) Another forty hours of entertainment. The pony, I’ll note, will probably be fun for ten minutes before it fades into drab functionality like every other mount.
- A starter deck for Summoner Wars. I can’t stress how much fun this game actually is. If you have a spouse, friends, or random strangers who like playing card games, they will probably like this. It plays quick and easy and can get you a lot of good matches for one investment.
- Two costume packs for City of Heroes. Pick any two. The game itself is less expensive than the pony, but I wanted to drive the point home. Each pack contains a bunch of costume pieces and a new power or ability for all your characters, and it costs ten bucks.
- Braid. Transcendent, ethereal gameplay in a platformer for fifteen dollars? Gee, Davey, I don’t know. Oh, and let’s not forget that you have ten dollars left to buy almost anything else in the world compared to that pony.
- Final Fantasy XI Ultimate Collection. That is, the entire game. That’s the core game, four expansions, and three add-ons. If you bought this piece-by-piece, it was about $170. You can buy it for $20. Guess which number the total content is closer to.
- Netflix subscription for a month. If for some reason you don’t have it, or whatever.
- Mass Effect. You know, the science fiction franchise a bunch of us really wish was incoming instead of Star Wars: The Old Republic? The one with breadth of vision and gameplay? Less than a pony.
- Every non-included piece of DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. Actually, you could buy it twice over for that price.
- Megaman 9 and Megaman 10. As in, both of them. With five bucks left over.
- A Planechase deck for Magic: the Gathering. I don’t even play the game any longer, but the Planechase decks are designed to mix up the established formula and are at least tuned enough for you to play against an opponent without totally getting screwed.
- Peggle. A ten-dollar casual game that could not be more addictive if it tried. Plus, it has Stephen Notley of Bob the Angry Flower involved. Win.
- Any stand-alone part of Guild Wars. The entire trilogy barely misses the $25 mark.
- Every non-included piece of DLC for Mass Effect 2. These aspects of both games have been vilified, but both are far cheaper than a sparkly horse that does nothing but sparkle.
- Any given Schlock Mercenary book. Schlock Mercenary has been running for nearly ten years without a single missed update, and Howard Tayler puts out great work. And you can get it in print form for less than the pony, which includes backup stories, margin art, and great humor besides. (Oh, did I mention that part of the series is up for a Hugo?)
- Starcraft. Both the base game and the expansion, which are nine-tenths of what all Korea plays.
- Any given item in the Dungeons & Dragons Online cash shop.
- Almost every single unlock item in Cryptic’s Star Trek Online store. Yes, that’s right. Cryptic, who everyone hates for this stuff, is actually more generous with the pricing.
- The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. This is one of my favorite books of all time, it’s a quick and satisfying read, and it lingers with you for years. It is less expensive than a pretend horse.
- The stupid Three Wolf Moon shirt, if you absolutely have to be a damn World of Warcraft culture junkie or whatever.
- Every single episode of South Park. I’m really breaking the rules here, because South Park Studios lets you see every episode for free. Including, yes, the seminal “Make Love Not Warcraft”.
- Every single episode of Firefly. If you find yourself asking if this is worth more than buying a new stupid mount that you’ll ride for a week, you should be ashamed of yourself and I’m ashamed for you. Twenty dollars for the whole series on Amazon.
- An 8-gig flash drive. If you have to be purely based upon utility, this little wonder will store a metric asston of data on something the size of your pinky. And unless you spend all of your time in someone’s basement, you will get more use out of this.
- Watchmen. Either the movie or the comic. Both are good, pick the one you don’t have and get it.
- World of Warcraft. That’s right. The game itself, and the first expansion, are each less expensive than your stupid freaking pony. The current expansion barely costs more than $25. Wrap your head around that. Or don’t.
Maybe it’s just me, but I put this list together pretty dang quick. There are a lot of things you can buy for the same amount of money that are much better worth the money.