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Why Microtransactions Will Kill the Game Industry
Posted on Monday, July 1 2013 @ 11:21:07 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


You install your favorite MMO, sign-up, boot it up, create a character, and after about level 10 you start to realize that all this grinding is getting pretty damn boring. So what do you do? Probably just uninstall it. But no, developers have this thing called microtransactions where you can just buy more XP! Sure, great, why not?! But wait, $50 for enough XP just to get 2 levels? At least I can partake in new quests, then I'll be okay! Most gamers would stop there, but some will carry on and spend that $50 instead of going out and buying a good game for the same price.

It's not just MMOs, but it runs like the plague in mobile games which is where they started. Many offenders like Candy CrushRage of BahamutDark MeadowInfinity Blade II, and many other "free-to-play" or low-priced mobile games have this. You may pay $7 for a mobile game, but can buy armor, gold, weapons, and other items optionally. I still find this sad and unorthodox. Charge me $15 for Infinity Blade II and get rid of all that crap. Charge me a $5 a month fee for Candy Crush and leave me be! Let me play this game! It's like the developers stand over your shoulder and tell you what you can and can't do. Why spend $10 on a virtual card pack when I can buy DLC for a much better game like Fallout: New Vegas

One particular MMO had me peeved and that game is Scarlet Blade. The allure of scantily clad women in an MMO gets the 12-year-old boy's pants all tight and they secretly install it. There's a special item called the Lingerie Remover, but it costs $20. You can try winning it during your hourly prize chest, or get it as a rare loot drop, but only from certain bosses. This is the single reason why most people play Scarlet Blade, to get that oh-so-secret Lingerie Remover. Once you do this your character can run around completely nude, but then what? Is that really worth $20? Instead I can take that and buy two amazing indie games like Limbo, BraidFezHotline Miami, or several excellent mobile games. This is taking advantage of people's impulses they can't control. I never would have dreamed this would leak into the gaming industry.

Now, I understand developers and publishers need to make money; that's the only reason why anything exists, for money. However, you can try making your game good. By making less than stellar games and charging out the ass for everything—that's not the answer. Some people may say that you can get through a whole game without buying anything like Dead Space 3, then it's fine. However, they are still taking advantage of the impatient and that's greed. Nothing but sick, twisted, demented greed. There are other ways to make more money off a game by making great DLC packs like FalloutCall of Duty, and Gears of War. Spend $10 for a map pack for extra content, and it's completely optional. You're getting value and more gameplay for your favorite game. I don't want to spend $100 on 10,000 pieces of gold so I can buy a sword to beat the next boss without it taking months and weeks otherwise. See the difference?



One person who would probably take a bullet for microtransactions is Cliff Bleszinski. He's the maker of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. Great developer, a genius, and I used to have a lot of respect for him. But after his outright foaming at the mouth outbursts about supporting used game fees and microtransactions, I lost all respect for him: More studios WILL close and you’ll see more PC and mobile games.

I have seen the number of unique gamer tags vs actual sales numbers and it ain’t pretty.

At the end of the day many hardcore dislike what was attempted. You can’t do well in that space with many of your core unhappy… Especially when users have a choice. The nature of capitalism encourages competition and Sony played into that.

Brace yourselves. More tacked on multiplayer and DLC are coming.

You’re also about to see available microtransactions skyrocket. HATS FOR EVERYONE.

I want *developers* who worked their asses off to see money on every copy of their game that is sold instead of Gamestop. Fuck me, right?

*Sony* forced Microsoft’s hand, not the internet whining.

You’re going to see digital versions of your favorite games with added “features” and content to lure you to digital over disc based.

I find it funny how people are saying that I “lost” when I don’t have a job or an allegiance now.

What I do have is 20 years of experience making games and seeing how the sausage is made.
These are direct quotes from his Twitter account after Microsoft changed their used game policy to having no fees. Guess what, Cliff? That stuff would have happened anyways because you forget, companies are greedy and want more and more, and they are never satisfied. We would still be paying $10 for a used game and still have microtrasactions in it with crappy multiplayer that no one wanted, and then that publisher would charge $10 for an online pass. Where does it stop? You can scream all you want about how microtranscations are the future and companies need money. I think you're forgetting about our perspective. We buy your games, and of course you want more of our money. How about making good games and we might give it to you? How about making quality content? Gamers aren't dumb, especially us hardcore guys.

Developers do see money for every copy sold, it's called "new games." But once we buy our copy, Cliff, it's ours. After that we can do whatever we want to itcrap on it, spit on it, sell it, use it as a coasterbecause for some games, that's all they're worth. So should a TV company charge a fee to pawn shops and Craigslist when we sell it? They get less money than developers do! People only buy TVs once every 5 years or so. How about furniture? What if we donate our games to charity and some poor kid needs to pay $10 to play his game that he got for free? All because you guys can't come up with good enough ideas to make more money?
 
How will they kill the game industry? Think about 10 years from now, you're playing Fallout 6 and you start talking to someone. Your conversation choice says you can try to convince the guy to give you something if your speech is high enough. You try, and fail, then an ad pops up saying "For just $1 you can increase your speech enough to win him over" or something like that. At that point these aren't games anymore, but interactive ads. Everyone complained about ad placement in sports games and Burnout years ago, but they were just on billboards, and honestly it didn't bother me.


Another example: You're playing Halo 8 about 8 years from now, probably the end of the Xbox One's lifecycle. Let's say Halo 8 is more open world like Borderlands. You get to a certain main missions and you realize you just can't beat the damn boss. You try buying the most powerful guns available to you and the best armor, but you just can't do it. Then you realize, "Wait a minute! There's that one shop on the other side of the map that sells better armor, I wasn't a high enough level yet, I'll go look." Your confidence is up, you have plenty of coins to buy something, then you realize it's greyed out because you need to use Spartan Coins which are bought with real-world cash. You throw the controller, turn your game off, and sell it GameStop. Or you can continue shooting up smaller bad guys and repeating the same missions for about two weeks to get enough Spartan Coins to buy it.

How's that option, Cliffy? How does that tickle your fancy? You don't have to play them so you couldn't care less. Maybe in the next Gears of War, we have to spend $5 to unlock the chainsaw on the bottom of our Lancer's. When you rev up the gun with B, an ad pops up that says, "Spend $5 now and get the chainsaw bayonet! Watch this trailer to see what you're missing out on!" I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you.

In the end, it has to stop somewhere. Either continue gouging us and exploiting the weak, or make quality content and charge a little more so more people will buy it. I had no problem throwing down $40 for both Skyrim DLCs. Not a second thought. I love Skyrim, it was a great game, and the DLCs had a lot of content. I do think about paying $5 for some coins to continue in a game that I couldn't care less about. Developers need to start asking themselves this question: Does our game have enough quality where gamers would buy stuff for it? If it's no, go back to the drawing board instead of forcing it down our throats. We don't want to buy the game industries puke and diarrhea just because a company wants a little more money.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick
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