#2. Burning Flames Team Captain -- Team Fortress 2
Buying the weapons in most free-to-play games is like hiring a sex worker to bend over your family's Monopoly board -- you're having fun, but screwing over the game for everyone else.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
But that's a bad example, because that's the only way to have fun while playing Monopoly.
Team Fortress 2 avoids this by selling alternate weapons instead of better ones. Each unlock adds to the game without winning it, and you're not held at the mercy of random drops or spending money because you can smelt down items you don't want to get the ones you do. My favorite is the Brass Beast, increasing damage output but decreasing speed, because when I go Heavy, I DON'T NEED TO MOVE, THE IMMINENTLY CORPSED BABY MEN KEEP COMING TO ME!
Puny snipers have plan to kill everyone they meet. I have plan to kill everyone EVER.
As long as you don't fall for the key scam (a lottery for pretend items bought with real money), you're fine. This is the only game where the ludicrously expensive item comes from players instead of the company, because TF2 gamers make a cargo cult look like Houston Mission Control. They've conjured a massive trading market out of nonsense where novelty items aren't just worth money, but have actually become units of currency.
The OS wars cease screwing around.
The result is a massive economy based on refined junk and iPod earbuds. It's like Portland after a nuclear war. And it still makes more sense than bitcoins. The most prized possessions are hats -- TF2 players worship the most-millinered ones more than Roman Catholics -- leading to the literally head-melting villainy that is the most expensive item in the game: the Burning Flames Team Captain.
Blackened of sourceop.com
MY HEAD IS ON FIRE AND THIS IS MY VOICE!
The hat now costs 100.5 virtual earbuds, 2,412 virtual keys, with a cash value of 4,407 real actual dollars. The hat confers absolutely no game benefit apart from the respect of equally crazy people. Or letting you pretend to be M. Bison. Which doesn't quite make up for how the most expensive item in the game is one that uses special effects to highlight your head in a game where at least 11 percent of all players are snipers.
"Let's see you kill 'everyone ever' with a burning crater for a face, mate."
#1. Chisels and Blocks -- Curiosity
Peter Molyneux has made a career out of overhyping good games until everyone hates them. If he sold chocolate, he'd start advertising it six months in advance as a new form of oral sex that cured hepatitis, and even now we'd still be disappointed every time we put some in our mouths.
On an unrelated note, some stock photographers are clearly screwing with both us and their models.
Which may be why his new company 22Cans gave him the worst game in the world. Curiosity was a vast, multi-layered virtual construct tackled by every player in the world simultaneously. It sounded awesome, and it looked like the Internet in an '80s cyberpunk movie.
Every shaft of light is another player. That one at the top right is LippsInc4Evah.
Then you zoom in on a game that makes FarmVille look like an MIT graduate course.
The same view you get in solitary confinement.
Players tapped on blocks to break them. Sixty-nine billion of them. And they did it! This Curiosity does the exact opposite of NASA's, using technology to prove that the human race really isn't worth it. The big draw was that a "life-changing secret" would be revealed at the center. After nine months of taking the piss out of the idea of a tool-using species, the big secret was that a game developer was developing a new game. And they were giving rule-making control to the random time waster who had nothing better to do than click the last block.
Before launch, Molyneux talked up a fabulous "diamond chisel" that would cost $77,000. In the game, you couldn't actually buy it for cash -- thereby proving that Molyneux pathologically lies about features even when they're the worst features in the entire world -- but for 3 billion game coins. Coins could be reliably harvested at about 12,000 per minute. The only explanation is that Molyneux has a fatal heart defect and is trying to find sacks of harvestable organs that won't be missed.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
"I'm here to hype up a middling good game with all the emotion and accuracy of a televangelist! Also, we'll need a blood sacrifice!"
But that was only the third worst item for sale. The second worst was instantly removing half a million blocks from the next layer for $10. That's all. You've already volunteered for a chore so pointless that the machines will consider our extermination a mercy killing, and now you're paying real money to skip doing it. When someone is that stupid and lazy, their DNA doesn't even bother to uncoil, because it knows they'll never reproduce.
The absolute worst and most expensive item was paying another $10 to add half a million blocks back on to the next layer. The program was already unworthy of the word "game," and this purchase still allowed people to take it from zero to worse than nothing. They were spending money to cancel out other people's already pointless lives. These blocks truly were the most expensive items in the game. The diamond chisel might have cost months of the player's life, but I guarantee that if they clicked long enough to get it, that life was not worth $10.
Or you can behold 6 A-Holes You Meet in Every Online Game and The 7 Most Impressive Dick Moves in Online Gaming History.