Time Will Tell: The Future of Micro-Transactions

Remember the days when our biggest grievance was DLC. We used to tell each other not to worry as it wouldn’t catch, developers would not want to anger the players too much. We were wrong. DLC shows no signs of disappearing as of yet – apparently it’s good financially. Now we have the evil twin, micro-transactions. These have been around for quite a while on mobiles, PC’s and FIFA but it’s starting to make its jump to consoles and a bigger breadth of games.

Destiny. Oh Destiny. It is the game that does so much right and still manages to do so much wrong. Bungie have decided to introduce some micro-transactions to make some extra cash, as clearly they haven’t made enough. Seeing the amount of money some people have spent already on this game is a real kick in the teeth, especially as getting some of the items is based on pure luck. They opened a new shop on the Tower, where you can buy emotes, amongst other things, with real money. A few weeks ago the SRL event was up and you could buy packages where you could get a random sparrow or horns. Some people spent a fair penny on this and completely justified the whole introduction of micro-transactions.

The supposed idea for doing this is to fund smaller free add-on events, like SRL. I would rather they did events and these items free, but that is me asking for the moon. Who knows if this will be a direction for micro-transactions, but it would be a nicer way to go around the process. If extra content is added for free and those who want a little extra can pay for bonus items, then it means people aren’t being forced to spend a vast amount of money to play. This could work with rpg’s or it could even remove some of the smaller DLC packs, but for most games it only works for online aspects. It would be a bit stingy to have micro-transactions in a full priced games main story.

There is a rather peculiar addition to Destiny’s micro-transaction list though. You can now pay £25 to go straight to level 25. This means you are physically paying them to not play the game you bought. It’s like buying a book and instead of reading it just paying someone to give you the synopsis instead, which is only of consideration if you have an English exam on it. The fact is some people will actually buy this, thus making it a ‘worthwhile’ addition to the game. Frankly they have more money than sense, and for their own safety they should allow someone else to look after their spending. I hardly find this catching on, it’s more of an interesting spectacle that makes little sense.

Nintendo is leading the way with free-to-play games, with there being a smattering on the 3DS. All of these are fun and addictive, but one is a little more cunning, its name, Pokémon Picross. The game is unbelievably fun and puzzling but nearly everything uses Picrites to unlock, which you can earn or buy. New areas costs you Picrites, if you want to go against mega Pokémon, you’ll be spending those Picrites and if the harder alternate world tickles your fancy, well guess what, Picrites. Unlocking content costs a lot of this currency and getting them for free is very grindy. Most days will see you only doing the daily challenges to get around 10 Picrites a day. This is a crafty way to make a free-to-play game as it means you hook people on to it and annoy them by making it so hard to play everything free, so they just spend their money on it.

Other games like Call of Duty have also started to bring in micro-transactions, with them being used to buy personalised gear for online or emotes for the characters. It makes sense to just throw it into the game as no matter how much we complain they will still make some money from it. Even if they don’t it’s worth the shot. Now most of the content in games like Call of Duty that is through micro-transactions are completely for aesthetics and offer no benefit. There are also chances for everyone to get the stuff for free, just over a longer period. Simply put, it’s of no consequence if players get this stuff or not – only it allow players who want extra to get it by spending money. Then again we spend a sizeable figure to get the game so should we have to spend more.

Oh well, micro-transactions have already begun their transition. Like with DLC, resistance is useless and I suggest we prepare for what may be coming.

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