It’s no surprise to anyone that microtransactions are killing the gaming industry. Everyone from casual gamers to professionals have felt the sting of going through some form of a microtransaction. You may have only spent a few dollars, but those few dollars have opened you up more than you probably realize to buying more and more in-game items. Some can go their entire lives without giving into any microtransactions; however, most don’t have the will for it. They want the best cosmetics and everything the game developers offer.
A lot of games stick to cosmetic only microtransactions. Some games are of course different; StarWars Battlefront II is one of those games. EA promised in Battlefront II there would be no microtransactions or the ability to pay to win which of course meant both of those features would be a part of the game upon release. To no one's surprise, we weren’t wrong! Pay to win as well as microtransactions for cosmetics were both introduced to the game. This lead to a lot of community outrage as people didn’t want or like microtransactions in the video game. The communities outrage caused EA to remove both of these features from the game for a limited time; however, it was brought back shortly after.
Stripping Out Content
The main video game killer is when you strip out pieces of your video game with the intent to resell it back to the player base at a later time for a microtransaction. When this happens it pushes people out of that game as fast as possible and leaves a bad taste in their mouths. People feel like they’re being sold an unfinished game only to be sold what’s missing later. With this becoming the ‘norm’ for companies a lot of people are not gaming anymore. Most people are seeking other non-AAA games. This is why Indie games have blown up over the past six years. Games like Undertale, Hollow Knight, and Celeste have changed the gaming industry with new ideas, good gameplay, and natural feeling story arcs.
Buy This Dot!
One of the biggest failures starting 2019 when it comes to microtransactions is from the company whose leading the charge in sinking their own ship, Activision Blizzard, who are currently selling a dot in Black Ops IV for $1.00. This dot is meant for the center of a holographic site to improve your aim as well as look better than the default red dot.
That’s right…Black Ops IV is selling a dot for a dollar…oh, wait! It’s on sale for only $0.50!…better jump on that deal now!
Moves like these make me lose faith in the gaming world but more specifically AAA gaming studios. The reason why games make these very low costing microtransactions is to get you to open up your wallet and buy something to make you more likely to buy things that are much more expensive in the future. Think about it like this, you’ve just spent a dollar on this dot and now your credit or debit card information is in the system so the next time you want to buy a weapon skin all you have to do is put in your BNet password and you’re done!
Pay To Win!
Over the past six years, more and more games have introduced pay to win methods. Three years after Activision purchased Blizzard we saw the introduction of the WoW Token, which allows players to purchase tokens for $20 that give them a certain amount of gold that is dynamic based on the worth of gold in your server. With gold, you can buy some of the best gear in the game to help you become top tier all without having much play time in the game.
Guild Wars 2, which is a dead game now; however, when it was popular pay to win was the most common way to play the game. If you wanted a legendary weapon you could either spend a month to craft it yourself or spend $200 on 2,000 gold to then turn around and buy the weapon from the auction house. We’ve already covered Battlefront II bringing their pay to win model into their game but this also extends to Black Ops IV. In BO4 there is a “black market” that allows you to progress through the game getting new skins, sprays, and of course weapons to make you better at the game.
How It Should Be
There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good gaming experience. I’ve played games since I was around five years old and I love them. That being said, over the past years I’ve found myself more and more disappointed by games that have come out because they have massive glaring flaws that ruin the gameplay experience.
When I play games like BO4, Overwatch, Battlefront II, and other games that enjoy abusing their microtransaction system I always have one reoccurring thought on how they can improve the game as well a few smaller ones.
All pay to win aspects of games should be immediately removed; however, pay for cosmetics should always remain in the games. The reason why I fully support cosmetics is that they add something good to the game instead of stripping it out of the game only to ask for more money later for something that should have already been in the original release of the game.
If you’re a developer and you have to ask yourself “should this feature be in the game upon launch, or should we just release it later as a microtransaction?”, your answer will always be to add it into the game. The only things that should be done after the game is released should be patches to improve the game performance, cosmetics for purchase, guns and other items that make the game better like the “open dot” only this time for free.
As much as I’ve hated on Activision Blizzard there’s one thing the Blizzard division does very well which is content patches in World of Warcraft. WoW sells an expansion for $60 that opens a massive new region of the game along with thousands of new quests, races, classes and much more. Roughly four months after that they put out the first major patch which furthers the story of the game adding a lot of new content and it’s totally free. They don’t charge extra for it even though they could. I would urge Activision to take this model with Black Ops instead of charging $60 for the game then another $40 for the Season Pass. That’s too much for what you get with a game like Black Ops in my opinion especially since it doesn’t have a single player campaign.
Wrap It Up
That’s all she wrote! I hope you’ve learned something or at the very least I’ve helped you understand a different perspective of gaming and made you think. My goal was simply to express my thoughts to whoever would listen to start a conversation and a dialogue. I hope we can help the gaming industry get back to a good state where it once was.