Are Micro-Transactions Really Necessary to Fund AAA Development?

Lately companies have been insisting that they cannot afford to keep making AAA games without adding in micro-transactions of some sort.

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FallenAngel19842098d ago

Of course not. Look how successful Horizon: Zero Dawn, Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild & Monster Hunter: World are without microtransactions.

Brian76554922097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

Of course they are not necessessary but not all games are as successful as the ones you mentioned. This business is very competitive and why many often fail, some studios even get shut down. Would microtransactions have helped them? No but they use it as an excuse to release games as a service now instead.

This ends up meaning less games being released by the big publishers because those games costs more to make, take longer to develop and now they want you the gamer to stay engaged longer. This is where microtranactions come in.

bloop2097d ago

It's solely down to greed and nothing got to do with development costs or time. Many studios/publishers turn a very nice profit releasing games without mt's, like CDPR with TW3. I'm pretty sure even SW:BFII has already covered production costs without mt's turned on and made some profit, but it's just not enough for the likes of EA and their only goal is to make as much money as possible.

Godmars2902097d ago

"This business is very competitive"

Thing is that competitiveness shouldn't be based on the market being sold to. A company that offers a product that's going to make or break them doesn't have the right to build safeguards into that assures that they more than make money from it. Especially when those safeguards compromise the quality of that product.

Are companies entitled to a fair profit for offered products? Of course. But what we're seeing with SW Battlefront 2 the Destiny series and something like MG Survive aren't attempts at "fair" profit. They're exploitation. That other games like Team Frotress and Overwatch are good examples of MTs, of manufactured excessive profit, is besides the point.

rainslacker2097d ago

If a game isn't successful, having a MT implementation isn't likely to make them more successful. Just means the loss wouldn't be as great....and even then, that's a maybe as it still may be a significant loss. Games fail. Doesn't matter if they're SP or MP. Being MP doesn't insure success anymore than being SP does. In fact, a MP game that fails at the start is likely to never be successful, whereas a SP game has more chance to eventually recoup investment through other means such as sales or inclusion through PS+/GWG/Humble Bundles. SP games aren't reliant on a user base to continue on, so if a MP game goes on one of those services, it still may not have enough users to make it successful for the long run.

The only MP games which get the big AAA budgets are those that are proven successful, or have really strong backing from proven developers with good ideas to make something great. But there is far less risk taken when making new AAA MP games, compared to their SP counterparts.

A SP or MP game take about the same time to develop overall. MP games require more post release support though.

Many SP games released nowadays actually have a lot of time that can be put into them. A side effect of the open world trend. I just put 100 hours into ME:A...although I have no idea why since I didn't enjoy it much. I put about 70 hours into Horizon. I could easily put 20-30 hours into any given Naughty Dog game while attempting to get the platinum. I put in about 20 hours into R&C. So on and so forth. While a lot of those games have MT or even MP, I didn't use any of them, and outside ME:A, they were all pretty successful.

The issue of MP or MT is not as black and white as a lot of people make it out to be.

opinionated2097d ago

“A company that offers a product that's going to make or break them doesn't have the right to build safeguards into that assures that they more than make money from it.”
Why not? Of course they have the right to do so. Even if it compromises quality.

DJStotty2096d ago (Edited 2096d ago )

i disagree. A game is successful, if its good. For a game not to be successful, means its not great to begin with.

Games sell on their own merit and NO game by any publisher needs micro-transactions to fund it. The only exception to this case is FTP games.

Micro-transactions in a game you have already paid for, is nothing but publisher greed. Paid for expansions/DLC in a game you have paid for is the way to generate extra revenue.

Lehmans terms :

Paid game - DLC/Expansions
FTP - Micro-transactions (in which you will find are completely optional and DLC is normally free)

I game by these rules, i dont fund micro-t's in a game i have already paid for, but i buy DLC. FTP games, i support the developers if i like the game.

@Godmars i agree, i think some developers have gotten lazy, and have no passion for the games they create, they just copy and paste, do a bit of polishing, then attach micro-transactions and call it a new game.

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Timesplitter142097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

Honestly, I think they are necessary. Or at least important enough that not having them is a huge financial risk. Games like HZD and Zelda have it easy because they were guaranteed successes. And Monster Hunter World is not AAA

But what's unnecessary is AAA games themselves. All the best games have been sub-AAA for at least the last 5 years

rainslacker2097d ago

HZD wasn't guaranteed success. Sony has had big new IP AAA games which failed in the past. The Order being a fairly recent example, although I'd wager they still made their investment back based on initial sales. No game, regardless of budget or production quality is gauranteed success. Mass Effect Andromeda should have sold gang busters being in the ME franchise. but it flopped pretty hard. So much so the chances of the trilogy being completed are pretty slim.

New MP games with MT aren't gauranteed success either. Lawbreakers, despite having CliffyB's name behind it, and tons of exposure through the media, flopped. Titanfall which could have been a huge new IP this gen did well, but it isn't likely to ever hit the big MP list because they went exclusive to MS with the first game. MHW is probably in the AAA realm. It's a big game with a ton of content. Its production quality isn't in the same line as most big budget AAA games this day, but I'm sure that the game was still up in the 30 million dollar range in terms of budget.

Otherwise, I do agree that a game doesn't have to be AAA to be successful. Just that a AAA game that flops tends to be a bigger hit to the bottom line than a mid-tier game that also flops, and return on investment is much more likely on a lower budget game due to sheer install base of systems nowadays.

Hardiman2097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

Wow I'm in awe of your comment! HZD was a HUGE gamble, hell there were "doomsday" articles on here saying it wouldn't be successful!

Your right that games don't have to be AAA though as Hellblade is a great example of this!

MasterCornholio2097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

HZD wasn't a guaranteed success. It was a pretty big risk for Sony and I'm glad it paid off for them.

Brian76554922097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

Horizon was setup for success. They had great marketing and they also have Sony and the PS4 success to help build that momentum. The same thing will happen with Detroit. If Detroit was a pc game it would have a tougher time selling to the masses because it would not get the marketing budget or the notoriety of being linked with the PS4 and its exclusive status, which also helps its future success. PS4 owners are more likely to focus on exclusives than pc gamers in comparison. This is why Horizon had more help in its success even though it was a new ip. Guerilla also has some status to help as well. If this was an unknown developer and a new ip then it makes it harder.

The Order failed because it was a dud and reviews were not as kind as they were for Horizon. Horizon was and is a great title but some great games do not have great success (Titanfall 2 for example). In comparison Horizon had all the ingredients to succeed, whereas Titanfall 2 did not. However The Order still sold fairly well which again supports my claims that exclusives on the PS4 have an easier path and marketing also helps which Sony did.

Zelda is another title that was destined to succeed and adding microtransactions to any of these games would be easy to do. Nintendo was also called out for a hard mode in the form of paid dlc but they got away with it because they added it to dlc. A game like Uncharted gets away with microtransactions because it still retains its single player mode. All developers will push where they can and see how the public reacts.

InTheZoneAC2097d ago

never speak about something you don't understand, it's ok to have an opinion, but at least be aware of what you're talking about

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Reibooi2097d ago

The thing that often gets me about this is the games that use Microtransations are often the ones who were always going to sell enough to not need them. Battlefront 2 for example was going to make bank because it was Star Wars it didn't need the greedy MT's to be profitable.

Shadow of War had a massive fan base from the first game and was also almost certain to make back it's money quite easily without MT's

Often times it is the more mid tier games that could use MT's to supplement sales that are not as high as the AAA space but none of those devs do that because of how negative the idea of MT's are to most people.

abstractel2097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

I think what a lot of you are missing is that not all games make a profit or even break even. Micro transactions are an insurance, as it makes the losses more bearable.

With that said, of course there are greedy companies that go above and beyond to make as much money as possible on the expense of players. It's just, like most things in life, not a black or white issues but rather a grey one.

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UCForce2098d ago

No, it’s not. It’s just pure greed.

ccgr2097d ago

For sure, gaming has been way longer than Microtransactions

Enturax2097d ago

You people probably didn't read any articles about that each year creating video games costs more and more? Seriously, because microtransactions are bad for us, consumers (in a SHORT run, that is), it'll obviously make many of us hate it do a degree of making excuses for developers explanation around the concept. We may think they're greedy, but the truth is, while, sure, some of them obviously are, but some of them actually NEED it to survive in the gaming market.

Sgt_Slaughter2097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

If a game is good enough, it'll sell millions and millions of copies without the help of MTs.

Plus, the market is growing each year as development costs go up, so they even out. Like I have said in almost a dozen articles now, the gaming industry is one of if not the highest grossing form of media today. Games are making billions of dollars in a few days where it takes weeks to a month plus for a movie to break even $1B, and that's with generally a $200-250M budget PLUS marketing. That's not even factoring how much money one single copy generates versus a ticket or a CD/MP3 download.

Games do not, never have, never need MT's/Loot Boxes. Pure and simple. $60 is all I should have to pay for a game and should have all the content on the disc, and nothing more. Want to add to it after development is all said and done? Fantastic. Don't take away from the main game to do that. All these "cosmetics" were free just a few short years ago and I didn't hear anybody screaming for additional money needed.

Rachel_Alucard2097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )


Are you getting that info from them or an actual investor site? Just take a look at this ycharts report from EA and you can see they are spending much less then they were in 2008. https://puu.sh/zAFzi/c9fbe2...

They like to lie to protect their reputation, don't fall for their lines. Though I should clarify the data varies across the board. Companies like Take 2 spent a measly 49.9 million last quarter compared to 2011's 19 million, but that cost is in no way hindering their development to the point of NEEDING MTs. Their potential earnings are hit instead but they like to use fallacies to imply it's needed when it's "We'll make a few million less because we spent more." It doesn't matter tho they have GTAV and RDR2 so there's no excuses.

AmstradAmiga2097d ago

Sony and MS have been incredibly quiet on the issue of microtransactions. I wonder what their percentage is per purchase?

As for if they are necessary or not. I believe they are until developers find another way to drive revenue up or at least have more revenue coming in during the months/years they are not releasing another game.

Companies set sales targets every year which are normally higher than the previous year. If a company is not able to sell more copies then how else do you increase profits other than downsizing, selling off assets or increasing the base price of the game? You also have to consider the size of the gaming consumer base, is it growing, shrinking or staying the same? If the consumer base is not growing then companies need to find new and innovative ways of extracting more cash from the same number of people.

jhoward5852097d ago (Edited 2097d ago )

My educated guess: Every game produced is a risk. That said, there's a 50% to 50% change a game will fail. Another point is, some games may or may not meet the Devs expectations. For example, the Devs might make a game with long-term investments in mind. But unfortunately, the games don't last very long. That being said, most games lose it's value and fun factor rather quickly. Remember, games are very expensive to make especially when a Devs start to think outside the box to make their games. Anything they add new to their games normally cost money. So Micro traction is used in their games just in case a game doesn't make the money back or enough profits.

Forgot to mention, Games development is no different from movies making. A lot of stuff gets cut out or edited. That normally results in losing money.