With the recent outcry over loot boxes and gambling in many AAA games, it’s time to take a good look at another problematic sector of the industry: micro-transactions
Look, after the horrid release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, it’s no wonder that we find ourselves forced to assess the way game developers go about monetizing their products. Over the last decade, industrious devs have experimented with all sorts of different ways to increase the spending of their consumer.
Now that they’ve overstepped their bounds, massive publishers will undoubtedly be forced to let business practices like loot box gambling drift off into oblivion, but some other forms of monetization are certainly here to say. That’s right, our old friend Microtransactions has set up shop permanently on our gaming sofa.
Unlike the randomness of loot boxes, microtransactions operate solely on the practice that you get precisely what you pay for. The kick, however, comes with how these infinitesimal transactions stack up over time. It’s not just the product that is small and has a fleeting impact on one’s gameplay, it’s the very nature of the purchase amount itself.
With the appearance of a pittance being forked over, players can easily lose control over how much they’re spending – which is precisely where the company wants them to be: continually forking over money in a product they had to pay to get access to in the first place. The tactic works, and it works far too well – just check it out:
The fact that a Bejeweled clone like Puzzles and Dragons can rake in billions in revenue is less of an indicator and more of a volcano erupting, signifying developers and investors that this is where the real money is made. And let’s face it folks, by the sheer fact that all costs and acquisitions are disclosed up front in many microtransaction cases, there doesn’t seem to be a legal precedent that can be set to prevent such aggressive marketing techniques.
And so, the wheel continues to turn. Developers continue to find new ways of monetizing their products, and consumers continue to complain but fork over their hard-earned cash day after day. Let’s be clear here: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to support a developer, but there’s a stark difference between shelling out a couple of extra bucks on your favorite title and feeling outright compelled to spend more money to be competitive.
There is still a chance that things will change, however. Perhaps once companies realize that consumers are willing to pay a premium for a fully-fledged product as opposed to one that is delivered piecemeal over the course of several months, we can curb the greed that certain players in the industry have cultivated into a new business mantra and get back to what really matters – good, ol’ fashioned gamin’.