I don’t know how many of you out there have ever played this little cult title I love known as Mario Kart, but the eighth game in the series, (the aptly named) Mario Kart 8 for Wii U recently got some free Downloadable Content in the form of marketing for Mercedes-Benz. For over twenty years, Mario and friends have been zipping around in, well, Karts, with some cartoony motorcycles thrown in for Mario Kart Wii. But now, for the first time in the series, cars from the real world are in Mario Kart and fans seem to be split down the middle on it. Some are thrilled to have three new cars and a set of wheels, while others think that some sacrosanct rule has been transgressed by allowing a real-world brand into the game? In the end, whether you mind or not may come down to whether or not you like Mercedes cars or not, but I’m not not here to settle that for you. I’m here to settle the most common rebuttal to the opposition. They say, “How can you be upset about it when it’s FREE?” So I’d like to think about that for a moment. Can you be opposed to something when it’s free?
So maybe this argument is over before it starts. After all, I can think of a couple hundred things off the top of my head that I wouldn’t want even if they were free: a bucket of vomit, polio, a tiger… you get the idea. Though perhaps the more fair way to go about it is to ask only about games. Is there a game you would wouldn’t want even if it was free (not counting Russian Roulette)? Really, for any video game, board game, card game, anything, the worst case scenario is that you don’t like the game and throw it away. The insinuation with the argument that you can’t be mad at free things is that in the worst case, it’s only a zero sum game. You’re not out any money, so you’re not losing something. Unfortunately, this is a fallacy.
The problem is that if you don’t like having Mercedes-Benz in your Mario Kart, there ISN’T any way to throw it away or get rid of it. Sure, you can delete the entire game from your Wii U and start from scratch if you don’t mind losing all of your progress, but you can’t get rid of only the DLC. On top of that, the automatic update that adds the shop link to the main menu means that every time you turn on Mario Kart, you’re going to see the bar if the bright red exclamation point and a picture of a Mercedes on the main menu. Not to mention that you’ll still see other players using them if you play online. My point is that it isn’t feasible to completely ignore the DLC. So if you prefer to only play with real-life cars in Need for Speed, you’re out of luck. If the magic is ruined for you, it’s now irreversibly ruined, so you definitely have a legitimate beef with the promotion, free or not. Fortunately for me I don’t mind it, but if you do my sympathies. And feel free to explain to anyone who tells it doesn’t matter because it’s free that they’re missing the point.
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