Microtransactions is a divisive topic among the video game community, while there is a significant portion of it speaking against it, there are also those in great number who support microtransactions silently and buy into them.
The most recent example of microtransaction controversy spawned from last year’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 and the backlash was so severe that the game failed to meet its sales target.
However, there is another side of this coin. While gamers showcased distaste towards microtransactions but recently Activision Blizzard revealed that it made $4 Billion alone from microtransactions in 2017 which is even more than the actual game sales which made up almost $3 Billion.
Activision Blizzard was not the only one to make so much money from microtransactions alone as Electronic Arts despite of the loot box controversy over Star Wars Battlefront 2 raked in $787 million for the last quarter alone.
Now we aren’t exactly here to discuss how much money did a company made from microtransactions but, we are here to discuss the role of the gamers who despite calling out publishers for practicing predatory monetization plans still give in to the allure of microtransactions.
This is the very behavior that encourages the publishers to implement microtransactions even in paid video games and publishers have also started to practice this in single-player only games and a prime example of that is Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War which offers players high-level orcs instantly which would take a considerable time grinding them through gameplay.
Players can get all the stuff through gameplay instead of paying is often the reasoning used by devs or publishers. However, the grinding for the gear or the cosmetic is equally difficult with the exception of some games.
There is a chance that the developers make the grinding hard so that players are more inclined to pay for microtransactions to just skip the grinding part like Destiny 2 which featured XP throttling until it was discovered and Bungie was forced to remove it.
While microtransactions in video games aren’t inherently bad as they make sense in free-to-play titles and extending the grind to acquire a certain item in the game makes sense for free-to-play titles but microtransactions in a $60 games are just a slap on the face of the paying customer.
Microtransactions Are Here To Stay
With that being said, no matter how much we complain, how much we raise concerns over these monetizations plans in paid games, Microtransactions will always be there. Why? Because we as gamers buy into them, we as gamers give in to the allure of cosmetics, gear with better stats, weapon skins which can be acquired by paying real-world money.
This is the very reason the publishers make Billions of dollars in revenue through microtransactions and no matter what we say or do, they will always be there.
Point and case, Star Wars Battlefront 2, which saw its loot boxes removed following a severe backlash from the community and as soon as the dust settled they were included back in.
Publishers often say that games nowadays cost a lot more to make and they need to generate a lot of revenue to make the money back and partially used as a reason to include microtransactions.
However, when Star Wars Battlefront 2 faced backlash, EA quickly removed the loot box system and said that it will not affect the revenue in any way. This goes on to show how these publishers lie to us and then when they see things aren’t going right they quickly change their statements disregarding their previous ones.
As much blame is on the publishers for including predatory monetization plans in paid video games, the blame also goes to the gamers themselves who buy into it, which in turn encourages the publishers like EA, Activision Blizzard to add microtransactions, even patent algorithms for multiplayer titles to drive in-game purchases.
If things just keep on going like that, publishers will keep forcing in-game purchases on the gamers and there is a fine line between optional in-game purchases and predatory monetization plans.
All we can do is stop buying into these monetization plans to give a statement to publishers that we don’t want them and remove them altogether from the video games which are yet to come, which is extremely unlikely and if the past year has taught us anything is that publishers will take any measure to increase their quarterly or annual revenue.
Making a video game, especially at AAA level, has become less and less about making games fun and immersive but more about increasing the revenue for the company by any means necessary.
Before we end this, we urge those who give into the monetization plans to stop themselves from making any in-game purchases as it will encourage the publishers even more. Be a solution not a part of the problem. You can stick with games that really offer DLC that add to the game’s value such as RPGs from Bethesda and Nintendo titles.
We would have included Bioware to this list, however, what has happened with Mass Effect Andromeda and with Anthem coming in next year to compete with games such as Destiny, we fear that Bioware’s upcoming game will feature in-game purchases like how other EA published titles have included already.
What is your stance on the monetization practices in paid video game titles? Let us know in the comments.