When I first saw the trailer for the Forthog Orc-Slayer character for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, I was confused why this Uruk looked particularly human. Then, at the end of the trailer, I saw it was meant to commemorate the passing of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Executive Producer Michael Forgey. I’ll admit it’s a very touching sentiment, immortalizing Forgey in the sequel to a game he helped create, but I have some problems with how Monolith Productions and Warner Bros. Interactive are handling his Uruk facsimile.
Instead of just being included in the game without any restriction or limitation, Forthog Orc-Slayer is DLC, and not the free kind. Gamers can purchase Forthog Orc-Slayer for $4.99, but he isn’t the kind of Uruk to join a player’s army. No, Forthog just randomly comes to a player’s rescue in an heroic fashion when his or her character is about to die. That seems rather lackluster and comes across as an overpriced version of the Mysterious Stranger perk from the Fallout franchise (or the Miss Fortune perk from Fallout: New Vegas). But, apparently $3.50 of each purchase will be donated to Forgey’s family, and this is where the real problems begin.
Selling the DLC and donating most of the proceeds to the Forgey family is a very kind gesture and has the potential to help the family, but on the other hand, $1.49 doesn’t go to the family, which means Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive is literally profiting off the death of an employee, which is just all kinds of wrong. Sure, the companies get less than $1.50 each, but that tiny bit of chump change eventually adds up fat stacks of cash. Now, I have nothing against charities that give donators a thank you gift or even use the gift as an incentive, but these charities tend to send all the proceeds to those in need, not most of the proceeds. Take, for example, the toy company 3A. After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, 3A sold a special version of its popular World War Robot Portable toy and donated all the proceeds to Japanese charities for the purpose of helping the country recover from the disaster. 3A took a hit so it could help those in need. Would it be too much to ask for Monolith/WB to take a similar hit and donate all the proceeds from the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC? Unlike 3A, these are big companies that can afford to lose some money for the sake of altruism. I could just be a bleeding heart, but to me, Monolith/WB’s refusal to donate all the proceeds from the Forthog DLC to the Forgey family comes off as greedy and insensitive.
Maybe I’m being too hard on the companies because of the recent announcement of microtransactions in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Actually, no, I’m not. Monolith Productions and Warner Bros. Interactive aren’t charitable nonprofits that are solely dependent on donations; they are private companies that sell products to gamers. The cost of producing all the content in the Shadow of War, including Forthog Orc-Slayer, will likely be covered by the money people spend on the base game. It is, after all, the sequel to the award-winning and best-selling Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, so Shadow of War‘s financial success is basically a foregone conclusion. The Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC feels like a kind gesture the developers at Monolith Productions made to honor Michael Forgey that was hijacked for the sake of corporate greed, which is a shame since this kind of charity I would gladly participate in, but only if all the proceeds went to the Forgey family.
*Edit* Thanks to TotalBiscuit for making a video that points out that purchases made in Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, and South Carolina, as well as any country outside of the United States aren’t eligible for donations for the Forgey family. I completely missed that fine print and am even more livid at Monolith/WB than I was previously.