Are Microtransactions Good for Gaming?
There are a lot of gamers out there who will physically recoil, and maybe even make noises that sound like they may be close to being sick, if you mention terms like “freemium” or “microtransactions” or “free-to-play” around them. Many are convinced that microtransactions – that is, the integration of store functionalities inside their games via which items and in-game currency can be purchased for real money – are going to bring about the death of gaming.
But how accurate a view is that, really? Could it be that microtransactions are actually good for gaming as a whole? Well, the unavoidable fact is that it works. These games often make a lot of money, simply because there are so many people out there with money burning a hole in their wallets. And it’s especially useful for startups for bringing in more stable revenue.
Is anyone getting it right?
A popular view is that microtransactions can never be done right. But this simply isn’t true. One o thing to consider is that there are games in which microtransactions actually help complete the experience. One of the best examples here is in gambling games; the rise of the popularity and ease of integration have made these games feel less like facsimiles for those who can’t access casinos and more like real outlets. And the amount of regulation on the industry as a whole makes it simpler and safer for people to gain access to the best casino bonuses.
But when it comes to console and PC gaming outside of gambling, the results are often less impressive. Granted, there are plenty of examples of games that have done it very subtly. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, for example, features microtransactions. People can buy in-game currency to gain access to powerful items and bonuses sooner. While some may not like that, it’s not something that’s ever pushed upon the player, nor is it something . A similar feature could be found in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While it does amount to people being able to pay more to make the game easier, it’s not much to worry about in a single player game. At no point do you ever feel that these games are trying to convince you to make such purchases.
When things get ugly
The problem comes when game developers (although, it should be said, it’s usually done under pressure from game publishers) get a bit too greedy and decide to flood you with prods and notifications that are designed to make you want to buy this, that, or the other. This is especially prevalent in mobile gaming, of course. But, for many gamers, mobile gaming is something separate from ‘real’ gaming. It’s when this starts to become visible in PC and console gaming that gamers tend to get really angry.
Developers like EA, Konami, and Square Enix have become notorious for these sorts of practices. For the past couple of years, this sort of stuff was becoming alarmingly frequent. Games were becoming irritatingly difficult, with in-game items being noticeably weaker and certain features (such as actual endings) being hidden. The only way to ease things, as the game would politely remind you, is to pay up. This ended up ruining a lot of games.
But the practice is becoming less frequent. A more welcoming balance is on the horizon – so gaming is probably safe!