15/04/2018 – Controversial Club – Microtransactions being removed after a game’s launch… Too little too late…?
Welcome one and all to our Sunday club feature “Controversial Club”. As so much of our content is positive, charming and a lovely read, we thought we’d start a weekly article where we can get a bit of rage out, or just generally be dicks!
I introduce our controversial club, a place where we can all write about things that get on our nerves, rub us the wrong way…
With the recent events surrounding Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, and it shedding its microtransactions and getting re-balanced, we posed ourselves a question… If a game removes its central microtransaction system, but months after launch, is it too little too late?
Microtransactions. Ugh, that old chestnut. Personally, I don’t mind them so long as they’re not tied to gameplay progress or game content, aren’t exploitative, and stay the fuck away from my full-price games.
If developers are greedy buggers, at any point, then they lose my respect on principle. I didn’t buy either Star Wars: Battlefront because they were exploitative pieces of shit. I didn’t buy Shadow of War, because the prequel did just fine without it and it was a clear example of corporate greed. I didn’t buy Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for the same reason. And I never will buy any of these games, even though I really want to play all of them.
Because they lost my money on principle. I choose to vote with my wallet and say no. You don’t get to weasel out of that by removing the slime, then re-adding it, then removing it again. You should have budgeted your game properly, buddy.
And before some of you start thinking with your “But games cost more than $60 per unit to sell these days”, I say you’re wrong. Tell that to CD Projekt Red, Bethesda, Machine Games, Ninja Theory, Nintendo, and all the other developers out there who make quality, successful games on a sensible budget.
The game that I noticed this on recently was Shadow of War. Now luckily, I’m not microtransaction type of guy and I enjoyed the majority of that game without having to spend extra money. However, if I had spent actual money on a shiny sword, only for other players to get it free months later, you’d bet I’d be pissed.
I know games lose value over time in digital and physical formats, but there’s definitely something different about in game purchases that can become free. Surely it makes you think that you may as well wait?
I’m guessing the reason is to get people to play it again, or tempt new players to pick up a copy. It all harps back to gaming being such a huge business now and them wanting all our money.
So as much as I don’t agree with microtransactions(especially pay to win), I also don’t agree with them becoming free and completely discounting someone’s hard spent cash! Besides it puts market orcs out of a job!
It really depends on whether removing a microtransaction from a game title will really help at all, in my opinion. Some games are developed with microtransactions in mind from the get go, so removing them won’t help in those cases – you just end up changing exactly how the game is broken. Games where it’s tacked on as an afterthought though? Get the surgery prepped, and let’s excise the microtransactions!
I think it’s best to tackle microtransactions on an industry level, not just game by game. Stop it at the source. Put forward the notion that, sure, item malls in free-to-play titles, and limited item/cosmetic DLCs are ok, but dozens of weapons, skins, XP boosts…? No. Just put them in an expansion, or as a free update – don’t release overpriced crap to milk every last cent out of your customers. It’s scummy, and we’re all painfully aware of it.
Oh… God no… Not those dredded things…
I think there’s two ways that we can look at this. First, were the microtransations placed in the game in the first place as a money-whoring technique, or as a way to enhance the gameplay? and second – is the game improved by the removal of the microtransactions? .
If you decided to take to the street to do a survey of gamers, and asked them, “Do you think that microtransations can help with gameplay or is it a way for big companies to just get bigger?” Most would say that it’s just a money-making technique. And in most cases, it’s true. In recent news, Rockstar announced that GTA Online has made more money for Take Two Interactive than any film, book or game has made… ever. Since it was released, it’s generated 6 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a capital B. And that’s mainly because the in-game items are so expensive and it’s so hard to get money, that people decide that it’s better to just pay real money for the money. Now, the question is if GTA Online would be improved with microtransactions removed. If you ask me, I’d say “Probably.”
But in a few cases, I have found that a game has produced microtransactions that have made the game more fun. I’m going to refer to RuneScape 3 for this. The game features microtransactions to buy keys for your standard loot crates. Except, in RS, the boxes give you bonus XP that enable you to be able to level up faster, minimising the grind to get back to the questing, or helping you get past those few levels to get to a skilling area that you couldn’t reach before as your where too low a level. Since the game wasn’t designed around the transactions, it’s not quite so bad.
But now to the real question, is removing microtransactions too little too late? I think it depends on the game and how heavily the game was tuned to push you towards spending real money. In the case of BattleFront 2, yes, it’s definitely too little too late, and there’s games under EA’s radar that could definitely do with the transactions being removed like Need for Speed: Payback. But in some games, I’m okay with them, I don’t like them most of the time, but I’ll be okay with them.
Update: This whole club just became depressingly ironic overnight. For those not in the loop, EA announced recently that they are bringing back the option to purchase in-game currency with real money. While this is only for cosmetic items only, it’s still a bit of a sore subject after that whole fiasco. While I was happy with the decision EA made to initially remove the paid gameplay that was on show, it’s something that should not have been conceived in the first place.
Every passing year, publishers are pushing us as far as we can go to see what we can get away with. There’s always be an initial outcry on release of these games, but then everyone gives up. Battlefront 2 is the only time I’ve ever seen it get so crazy, and that’s a good thing. I don’t forgive EA all of a sudden for removing them or making them cosmetic only. Neither should anyone at home, the whole idea of just paying extra on top of that £50 you spent on the game just to be better than everyone sickens me still.
There are games that handle the idea in a decent way from the get-go and are made clear what they effect. No one was in shock about Battlefront 2 before the game came out and plenty were hopeful. I mean 40 hours to unlock Darth Vader was bloody ridiculous. I have a lot more time for the Free To Play games that use them sparingly or even paid ones that use them as a side attraction from the start. In a dream world, they wouldn’t exist in the beginning but I can understand why they do for certain titles.