Games of the modern generation have taken on a much different form as opposed to their predecessors. There are many of them that do not allow players to fully experience all of their contents unless they are purchased virtually via online transactions. The term for what these players have to buy with their hard earned cash is what you would call a microtransaction.
While there isn’t exactly a specific source as to where the concept of purchasing additional virtual and digital goods originated from, but ever since its inception, hundreds and thousands of game developers have taken advantage of adding them into their creations. So whenever I hear the word “Microtransactions”, I’m immediately skeptical as to whether the game is incomplete without them, or if it’s going to be the type of game that uses microstransactions to gain an advantage over other players..
Many feel that the concept of buying additional content has ruined the entirety of the gaming industry and for the most part, I agree with these people. First lets take a look at the wide variety of mobile games wherein you have to buy your way to get the best experience out of a them as humanly possible. One of the best examples of this definitely has to be Candy Crush; a very popular puzzle matching mobile game where you line up the same colored pieces of candy to move on to higher levels.
Players first start off with free lives that they’ll need in order to play. Failing to beat any of the levels will result in the player losing a life. So if someone were to lose all of his or her lives after failing a particular level one too many times, then that would mean having to wait for at least 30 minutes before gaining another one and an opportunity to take on the level again. But the crafty developers of the popular game managed to find a way for players to circumvent this problem by simply allowing them to pay their way through the waiting time. People can easily purchase lives by putting up their credit information and charge an amount equivalent to the number of lives that they want. Basically the more they pay, the more they get. This is what has caused a lot of fans to lose a sizable portion of their finances and place them into the pockets of the developers.
It doesn’t just end with mobile games, but major gaming companies such as EA and Microsoft Studios have definitely jumped in on the bandwagon. A good example of major game developers misusing microtransactions has to be in the form of Halo 5; a first-person shooter with a theme and plot that’s heavily based on science fiction.
Within the game there are over 679 total cosmetics (not including weapons and other items) that players can either purchase by paying for them with actual money or using in-game currency in the form of requisition points that they get by playing matches. While players can gather up these points and use them to buy every single cosmetic, the means of doing so consume way too much time that it would take several months or even years of playing to obtain all of them. Lets say that an above average halo player manages to acquire 900 points per game. Doesn’t sound too bad right? But considering that it would take around 3.4 million requisition points to acquire all of the pieces of cosmetics, then even the best of Halo players can safely say that even they wouldn’t want to spend so much time finding and playing through matches over and over just for in-game aesthetics.
A lot of modern games require you to do seemingly impossible tasks just to unlock a couple of skins or even features that should have been part of the actual game from when it was first released. Things like this make me, and everyone else, feel as if we’re being cheated out of our money just so developers can make a quick cash grab out of the very people that dictate just how much revenue they’re going to get.
Gamers have the right to be frustrated with how majority of the gaming industry is being overrun with microtransactions as well as having developers that seem to take too much advantage of them with ridiculous prices for cheap content. A lot of people even say that it’s best that developers just get rid of microtransactions altogether and release the games the way they should be; complete and with content enough to last players for a good long while. While I do believe that microtransactions as a whole should be removed and that they shouldn’t even exist, we have to face the unpleasant truth that making video games today cost so much more than how they did back then.
It’s as Marcus Nilsson, Executive Producer of Ghost Games, said in his recent interview with Glixel:
“It’s clear prices have really gone up. That’s clear. I also know that producing games is more expensive than it has ever been. The game universe is changing in front of us now. We see more people playing fewer games for longer. Engagement is important. But how do we deliver longer experiences? The bottom line is that it’s very hard to find this golden path that’s liked by everyone.”
The prices of modern games have grown considerably higher than what they once were and developers such as Mr. Nillson are trying find that line where people see the true value of their creations as opposed to making them feel like what they bought should cost less than what they paid for. So with that, let’s take a look at some of the things that we often fail to consider when we go over a game’s price tag.
Triple A games today require way more teams to develop compared to that of the past. One also has to consider the voice actors, scoring, and any other additional costs that developers have to shell out money for in order to create their conceived masterpieces. This wasn’t as much of a big deal back when the gaming industry had not yet fully reached the peak of its popularity. But as time moved on, so did the potential that video games had to offer to the masses. Meaning that important pieces required to create even a single video game were going to have a much higher demand, and that can only lead to very high costs.
So let’s say that games have all the content that the players would want, no microtransactions whatosever, but their prices are going skyrocket from the standard $60 to at least around a $100 or even more. Would you want to pay for something that would set your finances back that much? I honestly wouldn’t want to spend high sums of cash for a single game, so a couple of microtransactions here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world. Besides, when you really think about it, there are some in-game content that you might not even need and they’re better reserved as something that’s optional rather than something that we’re going to have to buy.
Because let’s say that the complete game comes with a couple of features that seem really pointless like a bunch of ugly skins that you’re never going to use or extra chapters that don’t really do much to affect a game’s overall plot. Wouldn’t you rather just have the choice to buy these rather than having to pay a large amount of money for the complete game?
While yes there are some developers that take it too far and lock behind important content such as additional maps or levels behind walls of microtransactions, there are still those that allow players to fully enjoy what they made without them having to pay for the additional content.
Let’s take a look at one of the newer games that has just been released in store shelves. Call of Duty: WWII (a first person shooter that’s set in well…world war 2) has received very high ratings due to the series returning to its original roots and its ever popular multiplayer aspect. But one of the best things about the game that players have been raving over has to be the way that loot crates have been introduced.
Loot crates contain many different kinds of cosmetics from guns, skins, emotes, callsigns, and soldier apparels. They can even provide the player with powerups that can only be used in certain game mode. While the game tells you that you can buy these crates through online purchasing, you don’t necessarily have to as there are many other means of obtaining them.
Players can decide to complete daily or weekly challenges that they can return to at any time or they can be randomly rewarded with one by simply finishing a match. This is perfect for those that cannot afford to purchase the content with actual money as all they have to do is finish certain tasks that are in no way unfair and put actual effort into playing the game. I salute Sledgehammer Games for doing such a fine job in the way they managed to introduce their purchasable content and I bet a lot of players are just as happy with how it’s being handled.
Yes microtransactions will always be there and they’re going to continue to hound players until the end of time, but I guarantee that we’re going to need them if we want our games to stay at fairly decent prices. But so long as there are developers out there that manage to implement them wisely and in a way that players can still enjoy what took them so long to make, then there’s still hope for the future of video games and the entire gaming industry.
So what are your thoughts? Would you rather buy games as a whole but having their prices nearly twice as much? Or are you fine with the microtransactions in your triple A games?