Are Microtransactions Here to Stay? What’s Next?
With the recent scare with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain microtransactions once again are on gamers minds and how they are used in the game. While the worries over The Phantom Pain seemed to be needless, it is a sign that game companies see the potential extra profit of pulling profit-making model into more and more games.
In truth we’ve seen these problems many times, Dead Space 3 found itself on the wrong side of gamers opinion through the use of real world money to help boost weaponry. Again, the credits to do this could be accrued in the game but it was much quicker to just put more real world cash in the game. When you have already paid a premium price to pay a game like this, should you be expected to pay more?
One argument would be that as gamers we just have to get used to it, the model was found to work in mobile gaming and now it is slowly making its way into bigger games. When we are given free to play games like Fable Legends, it seems almost obvious that some form of money making scheme will be wrapped around it in a way of getting money back.
DOTA and League of Legends are two good examples of where microtransactions appear to be accepted by the community and work well. In fact League of Legends has managed to be very profitable with it.
The problem here of course is the fact that these games are “Free to Play” also known as “Freemium.” When you pay nothing to start playing, is it so bad to put some money into it if you choose? This is arguably where the model works.
A further example of the confidence in this model would be Elder Scrolls Online scrapping the subscription model, though you still have to purchase the main game. Whether Bethesda will have success with this change is still yet to be seen.
The difference here though is still the problem about paying for a full game and then having expensive microtransactions hidden within it. Metal Gear Solid 5 does have them, even though you don’t have to use them. The fact is they are there, and with Naughty Dog even hinting that they will be in use with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End shows a trend for them to become more prominent.
If this is the case, would that be such a bad thing? We have to remember that games like FIFA successfully use microtransactions and never has any complaints, other than parents who realise how much money their children have spent. It may be argued that this is using the model right.
What about Grand Theft Auto 5 too? While the Grand Theft Auto Online is free, and money can be earned in the game the quick route to riches is to buy an in-game credit card. If these games can successfully use them then why can’t others?
Of course one argument that will have to be considered is giving players an added edge, which to many is unfair. While some can’t afford to put money into the game to get the best new weapon, others can. Does this mean that they will experience more of the game than the others? Bringing in a social hierarchy into games in this style is something that will likely never be popular.
The fact is there will always be a push from both sides in this argument. On the one you have the gamer who has put so much money into just purchasing a game like Metal Gear Solid 5. They are reluctant to spend anymore on a game that has asked so much already, and why should they?
The other side of the argument is the companies that see a boom in mobile gaming and the money made from microtransactions. If this model can be transferred to other games, and onto the console market then that would be a big win for them. With that in mind no wonder they push to bring them in.
So without focusing on any one game, in all likelihood we’ll be seeing more and more microtransactions sneaking into the big releases, and we’ll be told that we don’t actually have to pay any money into the game, it is all our choice. Once we get used to seeing them, how long before we just accept that as normal? It seems like a very plausible future for games whether we like it or not.
What are your thoughts on the future of games and microtransactions? Are they here to stay? Let us know your thoughts below.