Welcome back to “In My Head”, a feature where I talk about anything gaming related that comes to mind. This week I’ve been thinking about how irritating micro-transactions are and if YouTubers are responsible for their success in games.
Firstly, I know that not all micro-transactions in games are bad things. For many games, they offer quirky extras, like character skins and accessories (Team Fortress 2, I’m looking at you), however, some games utilise them in a way to entice players to spend. It’s irritatingly brilliant business, but the lack of payoff for gamers creates backlash and, in some cases, hatred.
DLC is usually not too bad, and can be a rip off for the most part, but at least you’re guaranteed something once you’ve parted ways with your money. I’m mainly talking about opening crates, packs, chests, and whatever else you can open, in the hope of getting something awesome to use in game. For instance, trying to get a new weapon in Black Ops III. This isn’t so bad, as cryptokeys aren’t difficult to earn by playing, but when you still haven’t got the Fury’s Song sword after many hours of gaming, I can imagine the temptation to throw money at the game until you do.
The biggest culprit by far in my opinion is FIFA. Specifically, Ultimate Team. With how expensive the best packs can be, and how long it can take to grind tournaments and divisions to get a high coin total, paying for them is almost logical. The issue remains that they are rarely worth the money. If you have it to spend, great. Before I left home, money that I earned through a weekend job I had could be funnelled straight back into FIFA 12, but now bills thankfully take up my wages.
The reason I mention YouTubers is fairly simple. They can create videos exhibiting the showpiece parts of their crate/pack/chest openings. People see these and think that they will be able to reciprocate this incredible luck shown on screen, and therefore are happy to spend money because the best rewards are surely going to come their way. But it’s rarely true. The money goes straight to whichever company it is, and they give very little back. I vaguely remember hearing that EA Sports makes hundreds of millions in pack sales alone! It’s fantastic business, I would never say otherwise, but how much lower would it be without YouTubers showing their highlight reels? Without naming names, some YouTubers exclusively put out FIFA ‘content’ that is them freaking like children to certain brilliant packs they have opened. Kudos to them, they make insane amounts of money for producing very similar content, but the millions of people that watch, presumably a lot of pre-teens and early teens, see this and think it can be replicated.
This isn’t a bad thing at all, if the money is there to spend. But I’ve been told about a boy that spent thousands of pounds of his parents’ money, maxing out a credit card(!) on FIFA points! Sure, the blame sort of rests with the parents, they need to keep track of their cards, but kids can be sneaky, and once it’s been spent, the money’s gone! This is where issues arise. Young fans of the game see their favourite YouTubers get incredible rewards but don’t realise they have spent hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, to do it. There is no one to blame for this, the people involved are just earning money, but would these micro-transactions be so popular if they weren’t showcased on YouTube?
It is, however, an issue that people have with micro-transactions; you never get your money’s worth. Again, I’ll use FIFA as an example, just because I have experience in it. The ‘best’ pack to open to get the best players is either 100,000 coins or 2,000 FIFA points. Those 2,000 FIFA points, assuming you don’t have EA Access (giving a 10% discount) or are on PlayStation, will cost around £16. For one pack. Which, as many people will attest, has rarely got a player higher than 84 rated. It’s not worth it. These packs are rarely available, so usually people are excited to open them in the vain hope that a high rated and valuable player will grace their screen.
I don’t think YouTubers should stop doing these types of videos. They provide great entertainment for sometimes millions of people. But, and I’m fully aware I sound like a buzz-kill, they need to have a disclaimer. Just a few seconds long, just so the warning signs are there. Think gambling adverts on TV. but for gaming. There will still be people that spend money on the games they love and go right ahead. At least this way, no parent is going to be floored by the bank statement that comes through the post.
Feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts. Should micro-transactions be banned? Should developers be more accountable? Are parents too irresponsible? Or should the rewards be better? Let me know, I want to hear all your opinions!