We’re back with yet another instalment of Respawning’s Let’s Talk series, where every Friday we get every one of our charismatic writers together to discuss a new topic!  This week we’re getting together to discuss a serious issue in gaming right now and that’s microtransactions, more specifically ones that are added to games post launch, much like what has recently happened to Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled this past week. So sit back and relax and join us as we discuss our thoughts on microtransactions being added to games post launch…

Think back about 10 years. It’s 2009, Monster sponsors everything, Call of Duty is still decent and you have barely any idea who Donald Trump is. Ahhh what a world… However this is also a world before microtransactions started sinking their teeth into every game imaginable. Honestly, I don’t have much of an issue with them, because I have some measure of self control when it comes to money and am not an idiot… Though there are plenty of people out there who aren’t so gifted, and fall into traps of “Pay-to-Win”. This makes adding the dreaded wallet-draining microtransactions after the release a trap. You’ve lured someone unsuspecting in with a game they’re enjoying and then BAM! Suddenly its an extra few quid here and there to get in game currency to spend on… Clothes or something? It’s a honey trap preying on the weak willed and gamblers. A greedy plot by the faceless corporations that fund our favourite pastime, and I for one can’t stand it! It’s even infected games where it doesn’t make sense! Looking at you Deus Ex: Mankind Divided!

There was a time when I would have said that microtransactions don’t bother me, much like Will, I’m not a moron so choose to ignore them and more often than not they don’t actually effect the games I play. Times be changing though… It seems that these are more common place than ever and now they’re being added to games after you’ve already purchased them! I can only assume that this is to get around the people who actively avoid games with microtransactions or reviewers who may mark the game down for having them. If the MTX are there purely for cosmetics then fair enough, but ‘Pay-to-Win’ can get in the sea. Also the people who buy into this bollocks are beginning to ruin games for the rest of us, just look at the devs who prioritise money over everything else, EA being the prime candidate. By beloved Fifa feels like its slowly dying thanks to microtransaction heaven – Fifa Ultimate Team and EA prioritising that bullshit money maker over other offline modes which are the true heart and soul of the franchise. The evolution of video games is mostly great but stuff like this is a definite stain on the industry.

Pay to win is just absolute crap all over isn’t it. The game I particularly noticed it in was Tekken where you used to have to complete the arcade mode over and over to unlock every character, and now you pay between £3 and £6 to bloody buy them, which really is a lot of money if you want everyone… And then it makes you pick and choose, which means you don’t get to use everyone; it destroys any sense of achievement or joy in my opinion. Now I completely understand that from a business standpoint it’s all about e-sports and players only really care about that, but I for one do not. I want to spend hours of my life so I can unlock a little orange dinosaur! YOU EVEN HAVE TO PAY FOR TEKKEN BOWL NOW! What is our world? 🙁

I hate microtransactions to be honest. I think they’re the scum of the industry and I hate them. Similarly I hate when Marvel do a load of tie in comic books for an arc I want to read and I have to buy no less than 68 issues to buy them (I’m looking at you, War of the Realms) I just want to enjoy the full extent of the media I have paid for and not have to buy into $$$ worth of addition to get the “full experience”. JUST LET ME READ SPIDERMAN GOD DAMMIT.

You guys didnt think I could turn this one into a Spiderman comment did you? You guys are wrong.

Microtransactions are the bane of my life. They’re overpriced and deceptive. They get you by convincing you it’s only a TIIIIINNNNNYYY bit of money, almost convincing yourself it’s not real money… And then they add up and up and up. By the time you’ve actually realised what’s going on, you’ve spent the equivalent of a AAA game on a few skins, weapons that are marginally fancier but actually no better and some in game currency that gets you bugger all. I hate them with a passion. You never get your money’s worth and they cause many parents thousands of pounds (We can’t all be tech savy, okay)…

Microtransactions aren’t so bad, inherently. Many games can and do make plenty of money in a very effective manner using smaller payments instead of a single larger one- there’s plenty of them Valve. TF2, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the like have, on the surface, a fairly non-limiting system of microtransactions that have paid back the development costs of those games a thousand times over without ever trying to get anyone addicted or socially pressured into bankrupting themselves.

Because that’s what microtransactions aim to do, most of the time. That’s what they can be mutated into, a perfectly reasonable monetisation scheme twisted at both ends into something sinister and measurably dangerous. Clash of Clans may have started it and ruined mobile gaming in the process, but we’ve let the weeds spread until not even our childhood favourites are safe.

Gamers hate microtransactions. By and large, they are a stain on a product, a bad mark on the record. We push back, because we’ve suffered enough lashings to recognise the whip. Game Publishers like EA, Ubisoft, and Activision will take our beloved series, our places of warmth and joy, and warp them into soulless attempts to fill the pockets of their CEOs and Executives, all while pushing out the artists and staff who worked hard to make them in the process. Look at what they did to Blizzard. Look at what they did to Bethesda. Look at what they did to Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot.

The psychopaths with the suits and the expensive LA mansions will do whatever they can to keep their champagne waterfalls flowing, even if that means tricking us, plain and simple. These people care not for art, they care for what art can do for them. The men that order for casinos to be added to our shooter and fraud added to out RPGs are the same kind of men that sell cough drops to patients of American hospitals for $20 a pop; to them, you are not a person, but a vessel to be emptied of cash no matter the damage done to you in the process.

And that’s why it’s important to realise what our one line of defence is. When a game you like suddenly falls to the dark side, you trade it in. Sell it to CEX or GAME, and then don’t support the series again. That’s what it takes to fight back against these cigar-chomping weirdos. Buy more indie games, and keep photoshopping devil horns onto Bobby Kotick’s face, please.

So there’s some rather shady stuff happening in video games these days. Let’s not beat around the bush, some big players in the game industry have been releasing their big shiny new games then patching in horrible predatory monetization aimed at young children just a few weeks later, ensuring high review scores whilst still being scummy, greedy cunts. Mark my words and heed those of countless other gamers, this stuff has got to be shut down hard or else it’s just going to get worse. Just remember folks, don’t blame the developers, blame the cooperate bigwigs as they’re the ones treating people like walking cash bundles.

I have always been very open about my opinion on… anything really, but microtransactions are high up on the list of things I totally abhor about modern gaming. If they only add cosmetics but nothing to provide a ‘pay to win’ edge to another player, then that’s completely harmless and fine by me. Player made skins / vehicle liveries are hardly a new feature in video games and while I tend not to bother with them myself, anything that provides a platform for creativity should absolutely be encouraged. Those that do benefit one player over another who hasn’t bought them are absolute scum and should be confined to the 8th circle of Hell from whence they came!

With microtransactions, I’d say it really depends. Loot boxes are never ideal; whilst examples like Overwatch are more benign than, say, Modern Warfare 2’s additions, selling things as separate DLC or just making them unlocks is a far better way of going about it in general. And unlocking looked like how Crash Team Racing was going to play things, til this. Even if it’s just to speed unlocking up, I really don’t think it was worth adding; it’s brought a lot of backlash, and put the vulnerable and parents at risk. It’s Crash Team Racing – it’s not like there’s anything even worth trying hard to unlock. This isn’t Diablo 2’s Auction House, ha ha.

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