Some of us in the Nintendo Life team and, we're sure, throughout the community, remember the days when you'd buy a game once and have the full product right there in your hand. The march of time and technology waits for no-one, of course, and we now have extensive download options, additional paid DLC and, gradually, micro-transactions. Each have their supporters and critics, for very valid reasons, but the relatively recent emergence of micro-transactions within full-price retail games has been a more questionable evolution in the industry.
EA has been at the fore-front of this, arguably, with the micro-transactions in the recent Dead Space 3 being a high-profile example, with upgrades and items that can be purchased by patiently collecting in-game resources, or simply by putting down real cash. Blake J. Jorgensen, CFO at Electronic Arts, has now spoken at the Morgan Stanley Technology Media & Telecom Conference to say that EA is working to include this model in its full range of future games, to allow you to "get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be."
Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.
We've got to have a very strong back-end to make sure that we can operate a business like that. If you're doing microtransactions and you're processing credit cards for every one of those microtransactions, you'll get eaten alive. And so Rajat's [Taneja, CTO at EA] team has built an amazing back-end to be able to manage that and manage it much more profitably.
The other piece of that puzzle is the mobile business itself. Playing games on a tablet or a mobile phone, smartphone, that business has evolved very quickly. It's become a very large part of our business and it's either an extension of existing franchises or new franchises.
In theory it's up to the gamer to decide whether they want to pay for a full game and then spend money on minor things like upgrades or new guns, but who's to say developers won't draw out the natural "free" way to unlockables to force those who can't wait to cough up? It's gamer choice, yes, but for games with competitive multiplayer where better weapons and item sets affect your chances, this could manipulate some to spend even more money because they can't bear to have a weaker weapon than someone else. In the pursuit of money, just when are we deemed to have paid enough to fully enjoy a game?
Oh, and the difference between in-app purchases in the mobile and home console space — mobile games aren't typically £50/$60/€60.
Where do you stand on the idea of micro-transactions appearing in even more games, and possibly every EA game? You can sound off in the comments section below.