Microtransactions in Games
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
I know that I have been late to the party for this, as this topic has been making news for the past few weeks. Many people online have rejoiced at the decision by EA to remove microtransactions from the Battlefront II game that came out recently. Is this really a win for gamers or are we just pushing the inevitable.
What are Microtransactions?
For those of your who may not know what microtransactions are or what they mean in terms of gaming, this is the definition as per my good friend Google.
Microtransaction (sometimes abbreviated as MTX) is a business model where users can purchase virtual goods via micropayments. Microtransactions are often used in free-to-play games to provide a revenue source for the developers.
In the last few years, there has been an increase in play for free games. If you want bonuses you will need to purchase them in app. In many cases in the mobile space, you play for free but if you want the annoying ads gone, you can pay the premium and then voila. Unless the ads are really annoying, I do not mind.
In console or PC video gaming it is slightly different. In some cases, you can buy some loot boxes that could give you an advantage for online multiplayer by giving you a special weapon. Sometimes these bonuses or extras are cosmetic like shirts and suits and so on. These do not give the player any tactical advantage in the game.
The model has been proven to work. As per Mobile Web Analytics as far back as in 2011, they advised of the following:
Mobile web analytics company Flurry reported on July 7, 2011, that based on its research, the revenue from free-to-play games had overtaken revenue from premium games that earn revenue through traditional means in Apple's App Store, for the top 100 grossing games when comparing the results for the months of January and June in 2011.
As the above advises, people are willing to pay more during the lifetime of the game than if they are offered the pay for the app outright. With console gaming. I personally do not usually buy anything outside of the main game unless it is a DLC. So for me it does not affect me as much. However, I see many games like Overwatch where players pay for special edition loot boxes. So although players are up in arms about this, it does seem like it is really affecting Overwatch. I do not hear as much complaining on that front. I would think it is because the loot boxes do not give you too much of an advantage. I would not fully know as I do not play Overwatch.
The best example of the Anti-microtransactions was the Mario Run game on iOS and Android. You paid 14:99$ in Canada to play the game. it unlocked the full game. People then still complained that the game was too expensive for what the game brought. The other option was to have special achievements purchased in game. Would that have been better?
What do I think about it? Well I do not really spend any money in a game unless I have to. That is why I always find some games are incomplete. It seems there is always something else to buy.
I do not blame developers and publishers trying to find new revenue streams. Games today cost almost as much as a low to medium budget movie. Some would say that this is not an argument as companies make money no matter what. They do not need to use these tactics. You can also argue that the role of a business is to maximize revenue and profit. If people continue to purchase these then companies will continue to have them. Want them to stop using this model, stop buying the extra's. We are far away from the early days of gaming when the community was smaller and the revenue streams were smaller. Money speaks and companies will do everything they can to make more money.
Did EA really learn their lesson? I do not think so. When people are not looking they will go back to this model. They do the same with their sports franchises. If you have an older NHL game you can pay to have the most recent roster. So yes they removed it temporarily for Battlefront II but this business model is not going away by any means. Too much money to be made.
I am more angry about something else. Most AAA games will have some DLC at some point. Most games have 3 DLC packages with a season pass, and that is a shame. I understand that it is extra revenue but then the main game seems unfinished or missing pieces. The best example is Deus Ex: Mankind divided. I found that the DLC should have been included in the game. There was no reason to do so. However, because i love the series so much, this is where they got me. It is the rare time that I bought the DLC. Imagine having that for the original Ninja Gaiden on NES or Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis. Our parents would have freaked.
In conclusion, I think that this is a blip on the radar and this business model will not go away any time soon. We will be paying for DLC and loot boxes for a while. Also, it is all fine and dandy to express your displeasure with this but bring solutions to the table. Complaining just because it is not convenient is not the way to go. If you feel very passionate about this, great, bring a solution to the table to get the discussion going. I do not have a solution. If I like a game I play it, point finale. Having everything free is not a solution. Nothing comes for free and if it does there is usually a catch. That is true in gaming and in life. I am not saying to embrace it but to adapt to the change and if you do not like it, do something about it and don't just complain.
What do you think? Am I off base? What did I miss in my analysis? Let me know at the coordinates below.
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