Microtransactions Pitch Business Not Gameplay: Ex-Sony Online Boss

According to the former president of Sony Online, microtransactions make a developer ignore gameplay and focus on business and profit generation.

John Smedley has made it to the news for a variety of reasons in the past but the one we remember the most is his clash with hackers Lizard Squad, however, at his new company he is making news for his opinions on a rather debatable topic: microtransactions.

The former president of Sony Online Entertainment recently confirmed in an AMA that he does not like the idea of selling power. He said that none of the games that he makes at Pixelmage Games is going to have them, including the upcoming Hero’s Song.

Not only that, Smedley insists that including such a feature in the game turns the developer’s attention from making a gameplay rich experience to a business project that has room for in-game transactions.

There will be zero selling of any microtransactions in any Pixelmage Games game including Hero’s Song. So no–no power will ever be sold period. Earn it.

I don’t like microtransactions because I worked on too many games with them. They change the feeling of development to one where you feel like you have to worry about the business instead of the gameplay. That leads to tons of compromises. I hated that.

All this is apart from the usual, weak reasonings that developers give to justify what they have done in order to allow for the in-game paid transactions, which, apparently is another reason why the former Sony Online Entertainment boss doesn’t want to do them anymore.

Smedley says he “also hated defending stuff we did to make money to our players.. because they’re right.. they know we spent too much time focusing on that stuff.”

Personally I agree that developers these days are focusing a lot more on business aspects of them instead of doing what a true gamer-developer would do. Let’s not think of the gaming industry’s passion as a cash-cow.

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.