There have been some excellent games in 2017, but this has also been the year that microtransactions in some titles have been so bad that even the mainstream media has picked up on them. For the past few years premium currency, and free-to-play style gameplay have been making their way into full price titles for console and PC, but it’s just lately that certain studios have completely abandoned any sort of restraint when it comes to monetizing their games.
Below are some of the worst microtransactions in 2017. These video games have systems that are predatory, treacherous, and generally, remove from the gameplay experience. While there may be some titles out there that have more ridiculous implementations–we could point to mobile games, but that would be cheating– these games are the ones that took the most advantage of hype or well-established franchise names to try and weasel more money from players.
Star Wars Battlefront 2
We’ll just go ahead and get this one out of the way. Battlefront 2 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for most players when it was revealed that its entire progression system was based around loot crates. When the game launched, we were all outraged at just how much you had to grind to get ahead, with the alternative being to purchase premium currency and buy loot crates.
EA quickly removed premium currency, but that just left the game broken. Battlefront 2 is all about getting cards and cash from crates, and even with increased in-game currency payout, and balancing to make obtaining Star Cards more accessible and fairer, at its core the whole thing was designed around loot boxes. This means the game still has crappy, grindy progression, and somehow it still feels like you’re dealing with microtransactions, even if you can only use in-game currency to purchase them.
Bethesda’s Creation Club
Bethesda really, really wants to monetize mods. It tried to launch a paid mod system through Steam in 2015 to a massive backlash. After that, it lurked in the shadows until Summer 2017 and started another paid mod system called Creation Club for Fallout 4 and Skyrim, this time on its own platform.
Ostensibly, items on the Creation Club aren’t “paid mods.” They do the same things as mods and include items that you would find as a mod (sometimes down to the name), but Bethesda swears they’re not mods. These are “creations,” that are somehow worth purchasing even if you have access to the stupefying amount of content you can get from Nexus Mods on PC or the free mods on console.
I’m all for mod creators getting paid, and I have nothing but respect for the individuals who give up so much time and effort to bring amazing creations to Bethesda’s games. If the Creation Club had featured mods like Enderal for Skyrim or Revolted for Fallout 4, I would have been entirely behind shelling out a little cash for them.
The “creations” aren’t that impressive though. They consist of Pip-Boy skins, new armors, and just general stuff like that. There’s no real game-changing additions that I’ve seen or anything that adds a lot of original content. The items cost quite a bit too. Fifty cents for a Pip-Boy skin and four or five dollars for a new armor is ridiculous. Especially, when you can find higher quality content elsewhere for free.
Luckily, Bethesda seems like it’s more aware of their fans’ opinions lately, so hopefully, Fallout 5 and The Elder Scrolls VI won’t release with some sort of walled garden for mod content where you’re forced to pay.
A lot of mainstream gamers couldn’t care less about sports games, which means when NBA 2K18 was released in September it’s microtransaction-riddled corpse of a game was largely ignored (and those who did take notice might have got a firm talking to by Take-Two). Take-Two has been raking in cash off GTA5 and the NBA 2K series microtransactions for a while now, and with NBA 2K18 it was decided to take full advantage of the fact that the majority of people who play the series aren’t necessarily plugged into gaming media and don’t know if they’re being screwed or not.
NBA 2K18 makes you use premium currency (VC in-game) for everything. To play MyCareer mode, the most popular mode and pretty much the point of buying the game, you have to reach about rank 75-80 before you can even think of competing online. Fifteen or twenty levels doesn’t sound like much does it? Well in previous games it didn’t take too long to grind out the VC to make it there. However, in 2K18 the amount of VC you can earn has been severely lowered across the board.
If you want to earn enough VC to even get to the point where you can even seriously compete in the game, you can look forward to grinding for tens to hundreds of hours. It’s encouraged by the game often to buy VC and to get to the point where you can play without missing layups and getting owned relentlessly by the AI a new player would have to purchase around $60 or so bucks worth of VC.
Once you hit level 75-80 in NBA 2K18 you’ll actually start earning VC a little easier since your stats won’t be horrible, but don’t worry, Take-Two isn’t gonna give up that easy. Every damn thing in this game costs VC. A pair of shoes requires 5,000 VC, which is around $2. You wanna get a new shirt, some tattoos, or other accessories? You better have some sweet, sweet premium currency saved back.
NBA 2K18 is an absolutely maddening game, and it’s a blatant attempt to rip off fans who may only own a console to play sports games and who may be less informed about how much they’re getting screwed.
Honorable Mention (Because I’m Salty): Overwatch
Now, compared to these other games, Overwatch has a pretty fair microtransaction system. You earn boxes pretty regularly, and they’re relatively cheap if you really want to buy them at a dollar apiece. That doesn’t stop them from making me super angry though.
I’m not gonna point any fingers or say some system is in place without proof. However, it seems kind of funny to me that whenever I like a character in Overwatch and play as them regularly, I tend to get Epic and Legendary items for everyone else. My four mains are Zenyatta, Orisa, D.Va, and Moira, but for some reason the character I have the most cosmetics for is Genji. And I’m not talking more by a small amount, I’m talking about more as in 2 times more.
Basically, I’m salty I didn’t get Cultist Zenyatta during Halloween, and the fact that Orisa hasn’t gotten a Legendary skin she came out in March. I wouldn’t want them to move any manpower from making the 19th Tracer skin though. It would be tragic if she didn’t get to be the Easter Bunny or Cupid or whatever when the new year comes.
These are just a few of the terrible experiences I had with microtransactions this year. If you want to sound off about a game that grinds your gears with microtransactions, sound off in the comments.