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Microtransactions: Are they really as bad as we think?

Fairly recently, I've noticed a large flux after EA's announcement of including microtransactions in all their games, people have been going berserk about anything that involves microtransactions and throwing a blanket of "bad" over all of it. I'm here to talk about microtransactions objectively and explain that they can actually be a very good thing for gaming.

So let's get this out of the way. What are microtransactions? Microtransactions are using small amounts of actual money to buy in game items. I know that this sounds like a money whoring idea, and to a large part it is, but it can also be great for us as gamers.

Now for question 2, why can it be good when it's just a way to make money? Choice. That is the simplest way to explain it. When microtransactions are done right (I will provide examples later) they give the gamer hundreds if not thousands of items choose from and earn. Gamers have the ability to choose between thousands of items and get one that suits specifically their needs. When microtransactions are done correctly you can buy an item if you want or play the game long enough and earn it yourself. You don't HAVE to buy the item. This is main difference between a game with good microtransactions and one with bad microtransactions. Games with good microtransactions give you option to earn 90+% of the items without having to spend real money on them. So let me list some examples of good and bad microtransactions.

Good microtransactions:

Lord of the Rings online- This game provides players with thousands of items they can buy. Almost every item in that game's store can be earned by just playing the game long enough, but if you want it right now you can spend one or two dollars to get it instantly. Microtransactions in this case are good, and actually wound up saving a dying game that was scheduled to be terminated. Through microtransactions Tribune was able to make their game free to play and increase their profit margin by 700%.

Dust 514 - The PS3's first person shooter MMO relies on a microtransaction model to keep the game free to play. In it, and this is what differs a little from LOTRO, by playing the game you earn game money which can be used to purchase the items, or you can buy the items using your own money.

Bad microtransactions:

Call of Duty Black Ops 2: This is a perfect example of a bad microtransactions. In BO2 you can buy player cards and weapon cammos for real money. The reason this is money whoring (bad microtransactions) and not good microtransactions is because there is no way to earn any other this. They must be bought.

Dead Space 3: I know this is the most prevalent example and is the example that has sparked the fire of hatred towards microtransactions. I would love to discuss this game but honestly I haven't played it and therefore can't honestly say whether or not it is good or bad microtransactions. However I did want to bring up Dead Space because it sparked all this.

My point to all of this is that microtransactions can be good for us as the gamer. They can give us abundance of choices of items to fit our play style. So with this I would like to leave you with some questions. Do you think microtransactions are completely bad? Can a microtransaction model help improve gaming? Is EA getting to much flack for microtransactions? Did this blog change your opinion of microtransactions or are all microtransactions bad? What is your opinion on microtransactions?

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DragonKnight1878d ago

"Microtransactions: Are they really as bad as we think?"

Yes, they are.

"When microtransactions are done right (I will provide examples later) they give the gamer hundreds if not thousands of items choose from and earn."

Which could have easily been included in the game without needing a pay wall.

"You don't HAVE to buy the item."

You don't have to buy the game either, that isn't the point. The point is that as gaming progresses content suffers due to greed. In the Past, everything these microtransactions can give where represented as free unlockables rewarded for skill or ingenuity in finding out how to unlock them, but just like cheat codes and gameplay over graphics, free content is going the way of the DoDo bird.

Microtransactions offer no real benefit to gamers. If the items are already in the game and we can unlock them through progression, that is good for gamers. Microtransactions only benefit publishers.

poolsharky271878d ago (Edited 1878d ago )


They are as bad as they seem. Mainly because of how they currently done.

Currently they don't add content, micro-transactions are all generally content that was removed or planned but not worked on simply so it could be charged for later. Prior to this uprising in dlc, all these 'extras' were in-game unlockables.

Publishers currently are withholding content to sell as micro-transactions. They think about sequels and expansions before the main game is even finished(Diablo3 had 2 expansions planned before the main game even released). They think about costumes they can sell that could have easily been added to an ingame item shop/side quest. Micro-transactions currently are limiting the content of the base game. The idea sounds good(add content to games people love) but this isn't what happens.

The way to do them correctly would be to have all the extra content be unlockable for free in-game(quests/trophies/achiev ements/objectives), but also allow it to be unlocked for a price for those who don't have time to unlock everything but want to enjoy everything.

The only place micro-transactions currently make any real sense are free to play mmos. And the correct way to do it in those types of games are to have transactions that don't effect balance(but this is a whole different discussion).

Ex: Fighting game with unlockable characters by beating story modes. Micro-transaction to unlock all characters.

tl;dr: micro-transactions should be used to save time(available in game without purchase), and should not limit content(ie; not adding a feature so it can be used in a sequel/expansion/DLC)

lex-10201877d ago

You didn't read much of this did you?

"Which could have easily been included in the game without needing a pay wall."

As I stated in the blog: "Games with good microtransactions give you option to earn 90+% of the items without having to spend real money on them."

The point when I said that you don't HAVE to buy them was that you can get everything you could buy by just playing the game, Which: "If the items are already in the game and we can unlock them through progression, that is good for gamers." is exactly what I said. So you argue that my opinion is wrong because the only way they could be good is the same as my opinion....

Please read the entire article before saying someone's opinion is wrong. You might notice that some of the things you are going to say are some of the things that person already said.

DragonKnight1877d ago (Edited 1877d ago )

I read the whole thing, my point still stands. Microtransactions are not needed and they only benefit publishers.

The reason I reiterated what you said in my post is to solidify how ridiculous the notion that microtransactions are in any way good to gamers is. They aren't. Everything they represent has been around for decades as unlockables. So maybe in the future you should worry about not getting your panties in a twist and actually think about what you say before responding to someone.

dedicatedtogamers1877d ago

There's another side to the coin. It would be easy to get mad at micro-transactions and claim that the publishers are so greedy and they're hiding portions of the game behind a pay wall, but the game industry is changing.

Some people are too young to remember, but in the past, especially during the late 80s and early 90s, bigger videogames would command a higher price. Some cartridge SNES games went well above the normal $50 price, and let's not forget that a $50 price tag back then inflates to much more than the $60 we pay for games today. Whenever Origin released a new Ultima game on PC, it was ALWAYS a higher price than the average game, but you bought it anyway because there was nothing like them. Final Fantasy was a higher price on SNES. I remember reading that one of the Dragon Quest games in Japan launched at the equivalent of $115, and yet it sold like 4 million in the first two months.

But today, publishers are locked into the $60 price range, even though inflation has increased and the cost of developing games has skyrocketed. They have to make money somehow, or else we won't be getting these AAA, multi-million budget games anymore. If you're willing to see those sorts of games vanish, then maybe one day DLC will vanish, too.

lex-10201874d ago (Edited 1874d ago )


I have thought well about this subject, evidence being the blog, and have shared my thoughts with the gaming community here on N4G. The fact is when a developer does microtransactions right they don't matter. You can still play the game and unlock everything without having to pay a dime over the retail price of the game. But the microtransactions give you choice. Choice of items to fit your play style, because having microtransactions for only a few items is terrible, but also choice to unlock it now or later. I work 2 full time jobs and am a full time student working on a masters degree in psychology. I don't have as much time to spend gaming as I did when I was in highschool. I don't have the time to spend constantly fighting a boss to try and get that 2% drop item. Someone in my position might like only having to pay $1 to get that item they don't have the time to grind for.

Do you see what I'm saying now? Yes it's a way for the publisher to make extra money. But when it's done right it's not DLC. It's not either you have it or you don't. You can earn it if you want to spend enough time, or you can buy it if you want, but it's not locked forever if you don't buy it.

People, evidently much like yourself, are stuck in this mindset that microtransaction are strictly bad greedy things created by publishers and so they say all of it is bad. That's like saying plastic has the chemical PCE, a cancer causing chemical, in it so all plastic is bad and should be banned. While that's a bit extreme given the role plastic has in our society but imagine if right when we started using it people made that argument.

And believe me, it would take much more than a disagreement and an insult by a keyboard warrior to "get my panties in a bunch"

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 1874d ago
Donnieboi1878d ago

Yeah there are good and bad kinds, but if most publishers push the bad, pay-to-win type of microtransactions, then I don't think it's fair to charge $60, or any amount up-front.

In that case, it might as well be called a Micro-Extortion.

TuxedoMoon1877d ago

Is it a double standard to say that I can tolerate Micro-transactions in a free-to-play MMO than in console games?

I'm like that. I play a certain free to play mmo, but thankfully it's not all pay to win. That certain mmo I play do hold events that lets players win stuff from their cash shop too, like pets or rare clothes. Micro transaction is how they get paid off the game and that I understand.

Where the bull crap starts is with consoles. IMO, DLC and micro-transactions killed unlockables. A huge chunk of the DLC out there, if released last generation, would have either been expansion packs or unlockable content. Fighting games especially! Tell me, why is it that xbox 1 game is far superior in terms of content (costumes and online modes) than DOA5 (out of the box)? DOA2u had better online modes (it had 4 player tag battles and survival mode ONLINE), better lobbies, and way more costumes to unlock. I think doa2u had like, 15+ costumes to unlock for all the female characters. DOA5...has 3-5 you can unlock?

Today, it feels like only those with money get further in games. What happened to using your skills, doing a special thing, and getting rewarded for it? Trophies/Achievements, imo, are crappy things to "unlock". I'd rather have something USEFUL from doing special things in the game than just get a little message that says "GOOD JOB! You did this thing and get a sticker!"

I think it was SC4 where they had a DLC pack for costumes. It was completely optional, but I think it was to unlock all the costumes in the game. Either unlock the costumes manually by playing the game, or pay $5 to get them all right at the start. Yeah it is pay to win basically, but you can unlock everything manually. The costumes or whatever weren't ALL locked off. This is something I prefer, either pay or play to get an item rather than...just pay to get the costume/character unlock code. That's really the most "balanced" thing to do rather than forcing people to buy costumes and whatnot. I say force because there are no other options to getting the costumes and the only way to unlock the costume/character (legitimately) is to buy it from the store for $5. 95% of the time, what you buy for $5 is just an unlock key to access content that is ALREADY ON YOUR DISC!

Good DLC, imo, are expansions like Dragon born for Skyrim. It adds a good 5 or so hours of new quest gameplay to an already large game. Bad DLC are characters and costumes and other little trinkets that SHOULD HAVE BEEN AND ALWAYS BE unlockable content for those dedicated enough to do certain special things. Terrible DLC: SELLING THE REAL ENDING TO YOUR GAME! I'm looking at you Asura's Wrath and FF13-2. 2 games I enjoyed and my praises were killed the moment I found out that they sold off their REAL endings. They were good games, but selling the endings is just so dirty. If I was a reviewer and found that out, I think I'd push to lower the score simply because the game is incomplete. You have to buy the best/real ending. That's just pure bull crap.

Beat the game on hard, you unlock a character/costume! I miss those days. DLC and micro transactions is the way of the future...sadly.

ps3_pwns1877d ago

yes they are and you are not a gamer if you like them or dont fight against them. its time for change in the gaming world. no more of this bs.

-GametimeUK-1877d ago

There is a place for them, but they will get exploited. I don't mind people paying for a cool camo etc that was not intended to be there on release. The exclusivity feel is nice. The sad truth is all this micro transaction business is a gateway to a dull future.

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