News Article

Talking Point: The Slippery Slope of Micro-Transactions

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Where will it all end?

We recently shared some news from an investor briefing, in which EA's chief financial officer, Blake J. Jorgensen, outlined EA's plans for a future with micro-transactions in all of its games. It seems pertinent to own up to the fact that the tone of that news article wasn't exactly delighted with the idea — while acknowledging that the gamer ultimately retains the choice of whether to use this system — and it was a topic that prompted a fair bit of debate within the Nintendo Life community. With that in mind, we want to take the chance to look at the issue in a little more detail and, most importantly in our case, consider its future role on Nintendo systems.

As a reminder, EA's CFO made clear that the recent trends of optional micro-transactions in retail games, in titles such as Dead Space 3, isn't going anywhere, with EA now actively stepping up its progress into that marketplace. As the past five years or so have brought an increasing focus on download retail options as well as paid-DLC, micro-transactions are undoubtedly the next logical step in the continuing monetisation of games. EA, and we don't necessarily mean this as a blunt criticism, are often at the forefront — with companies such as Activision and Ubisoft — in exploring every means to increase revenues.

Before we dive off into the potential negatives and pitfalls of this micro-transaction trend, it's important to recognise that, ultimately, developers and publishers need to make as much money as possible to survive. Development costs are higher than ever, and so we have the standard dance between publishers getting as much cash as possible from us, the consumers, without letting the relationship go sour. Some of us may complain about DLC and extras such as the endless "packs" in FIFA Ultimate Team — not included in the latest Wii U version — but these products wouldn't exist without demand.

The distinction between DLC and micro-transactions is that the latter offers small, increasingly minor extras that can be deemed as important in the main game, rather than an optional set of levels, maps or stages. That said, there's something a little worrying about a concept originally conceived for the smartphone/tablet space being increasingly shoe-horned into the conventional gaming market. Nintendo itself is in a somewhat awkward spot in this regard, as it's made necessary moves to ensure that Wii U, in particular, will support micro-transactions, while distancing itself from the idea of using it in its own games.

It's telling that in late 2012, Satoru Iwata tackled the idea of low-cost DLC extras — micro-transactions, in other words — in Animal Crossing: New Leaf; he described the idea of paying money for items in the game as "unwholesome" and "absolutely not being added". The company has, so far, shown enthusiasm for DLC in the form of level-packs and/or maps, as in Fire Emblem: Awakening, but has stayed away from giving fans of the strategic RPG the chance to buy a powerful sword or weapon for 49 cents.

That's ultimately what EA, and others in the industry, are proposing, with paid options for "a truck, a gun, whatever it might be". What's more, we suspect there'll be an audience for this content, as there are plenty of gamers that, whether by choice or limited finances, buy a small number of core triple-A releases and then top up with DLC and online play. Those competitive FPS players, in particular, may find themselves drawn into paying a dollar for a weapon that they're unwilling to grind for, all in order for some better XP and stats.

Two major issues immediately spring to mind. First of all, in the arguably understandable business attitude of profits at any cost, the industry's big players are in danger of encouraging greater devotion to individual games, rather than a wider variety of titles. If a gamer buys FPS "X" and plays as normal, before finding themselves drawn into spending $20 on 'trucks, guns or whatever', perhaps that gamer will opt-out of a purchase of another game due to a lighter wallet. That $20 will serve the big boy's release well, but they'd do well to remember that they're part of a wider eco-system. If certain franchises — such as Call or Duty and FIFA — increase their vice-like grip on the industry further, more medium and small-sized studios could struggle to pick up sales from the same group of consumers. If the traditional games market evolves into little more than a handful of triple-A releases making all of the headlines, we'd argue that more gamers could walk away, which the declining year-on-year industry sales figures show could be happening already.

Earlier we also mentioned that awkward dance between publishers and consumers, as companies like EA try to extract more cash while making it feel worth our while. The practice of DLC — especially the "day one" variety — already irritates some, and if done poorly micro-transactions will take that level of dissatisfaction into a whole new ball-park. The mobile space is a good place to see this in action — and consider that games are criticized for this practice when free, not $60 — and we can point to a recent high profile example. Real Racing 3 is a visually attractive in-depth racer on iOS and Android that's reliant on micro-transactions; published by EA, below is an extract of what Eurogamer has said about the model in this game, before awarding it 3/10.

There's a good game somewhere within Real Racing 3 - and there are plenty of free-to-play games that prove this model can work successfully while respecting the player. Firemonkeys, and perhaps more pertinently EA, have got that balance horribly, horribly wrong, to an extent where the business model becomes the game - with gut-wrenching results.

Let's finish with a little maths. You notice the car you've just bought in a £13.99 pack is suspiciously slow in races, so you want to acquire the first of three engine upgrades that costs 44,000 credits. If you get 3500 credits for winning a race after getting tail-ended just once by another car, get handed a 2855 credit repair bill for the damage and then have to pay another 500 credits to get the oil changed - a job that takes 20 minutes to do, unless you want to hand over a little more cash - what's the final number?

And so we have the inherent danger of this practice, which by its nature can be more cynical and ruthless than standard DLC. Real Racing 3 is reportedly the perfect example of how an "optional" system like this is in practice mandatory, as developers make the in-game currency and resources so scarce or slow to arrive that you either pay up or face a grinding, unsatisfactory experience. If it's aggravating in an inexpensive mobile game, how will it feel in a retail game? It will affect Nintendo gamers, of course, as we're all part of that aforementioned eco-system and, ultimately, multi-platform games that take this approach are likely to do so on Wii U as well.

The sensible thing would be for publishers to start working towards "retail" console games with a much lower price, or free, that then included micro-transaction models. Unfortunately, the great cash-grab of the industry is likely to lead to full-price games that then ask you to buy DLC maps and levels, and then force you into a choice between relentless grinding or putting up more cash. It's not a particularly enticing prospect.

What do you think of micro-transactions in console games, and do you think it will be a positive or negative in future experiences? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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User Comments (76)

AddADashOfSalt

#1

AddADashOfSalt said:

I incredibly dislike the thought that there will be more micro transactions, and hope this never really surfaces too much outside of EA. I do think DLC is fine though, if done right, because when I buy a game, I want to have actually bought the game, not just a store for buying the game. In FEA, for examplem the DLC is done well. For a good price, I can buy maps that, when completed, sometimes give me stuff that's harder/impossible to get in the actual game, but is not required to finish the game, or have the entire game. All EA wants is a way to rationalize charging more money for their games. ACNL, from what it sounds like, is DLC in its most perfect form. It'll make people love Nintendo even more, and will make fans enjoy the game even more.

WildMan

#2

WildMan said:

I'm fine with DLC, as it's usually not nessasary, but microtransactions bug the heck out of me! If I already paid $60 for the game, why should I be paying anymore just to progress?

erv

#3

erv said:

It ends.... In HELLL!

Now, lets's actually read the article...

technotreegrass

#4

technotreegrass said:

I'm guilty of happily throwing down a few bucks simply for an extra outfit(s) in games like Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Assassin's Creed III because I personally feel that such cosmetic changes can extend the replayability of the game. However, spending money to get an overly powerful weapon early in the game ruins the challenge of the game and makes it all too easy to beat, and all the "Oh it's only a dollar" transactions can hurt the wallet and rack up several charges on your credit card that you don't want.

C7_

#5

C7_ said:

Microtransactions may be a slippery-slope, but a lot of it actually comes down to common sense. A single player game should not feature grindy mechanics to encourage the player to purchase the items; if they grind it wastes their time, and if they buy they waste both their money and potentially ruin the satisfaction of earning it.

Level packs and the like are fine as long as they weren't developed in the original game's development time, but microtransactions don't really fit into a paid game. When I put an initial purchase on a game, I expect all of the content to be in the game. If I'm immediately greeted with a store, I cringe, write a complaint, and return it. Microtransactions only have a place in F2P games, and anywhere else is just greedy money-grabbing rubbish that should be slammed down wherever it pops up.

ueI

#6

ueI said:

"[Nintendo] has stayed away from giving fans of the strategic RPG the chance to buy a powerful sword or weapon for 49 cents."
Actually, there's a DLC map whose sole purpose is to provide you with weapons.

Haxonberik

#7

Haxonberik said:

The problem for the rest is when does DLC start being more of a micro transaction. For example, FE:A is on a delicate border, where buying the new maps might just be considered a way to get hard things. I think the game does well, but it's on risky territory. As long as the gameplay is good enough to secure the purchase and not what items you get, I think we're fine with DLC.

Jack_Package

#8

Jack_Package said:

If I pay another 79p, will you keep the multiplayer servers on longer than 18 months, EA?

ThomasBW84Admin

#9

ThomasBW84 said:

@ueI But you play the map, so is it not more like DLC with extras at the end? Not only do you play a map, but the only edge you really gain is in a single player campaign (apart from the odd StreetPass battle).

Skeletor

#10

Skeletor said:

I think it would be more excusable if the games came at a lower price point. I remember in Madden a few years back, they withheld the highest difficulty level unless you wanted to pay for it separately.
It's almost as though the companies don't understand the difference in the types of DLC/microtransactions there can be. DLC will add more to the game, and microtransactions - when done properly - can be modifiers to a game. I think of games like L.A. Noire, where they had the different outfits that changed your stats in a game. That changes how you play.
I also find it odd the lure of paying to unlock features in a game that can be unlocked via gameplay. Are people THAT bored with a game they don't want to play it more? The Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers had the option to buy different decks to unlock them, and unlock them fully. You can achieve it by playing the game!

DarkKirby

#11

DarkKirby said:

So what EA is saying, is I should buy all my games on PC, crack their bullcrap Origin online only play, and edit the data so I never have to buy any of their DLC.

They could instead not be a douche to their customers but oh well.

ueI

#12

ueI said:

@ThomasBW84 I was under the impression that the weapon map is not a "real" map. I haven't gotten past chapter 4, however, so you might be right. That's one of the few maps I plan to buy, as I'm not a fan of finite weapons.

DePapier

#13

DePapier said:

I think this issue (as I consider it to be) tells of how third-parties and their multiplatform games expect to rule gaming by creating their own platforms through their games. And afterwards they allow themselves to criticize the platforms that allow them to thrive. Quite frankly, I would suggest they'd just make their own console.

Kroisos

#14

Kroisos said:

Personally, I don't get IAP for stuff you can play the game to get; it seems like cheating at solitaire. I don't care about this right now, because I don't buy games that either force or officially encourage players to spend extra money. I will care if that becomes the dominant model. And I will blame the millions of players who made it profitable as much as I blame EA.

cornishlee

#16

cornishlee said:

"Those competitive FPS players, in particular, may find themselves drawn into paying a dollar for a weapon that they're unwilling to grind for, all in order for some better XP and stats."

I'm not a fan of run & gun games, whether FPS or 2D, but there's a salient point here hidden beneath the FPS crack: micro-transactions only make sense in an environment where the player is only interested in the online multi-player experience. My online experience is limited to one play of MArio Kart Wii four or five years ago and a recent trip on NG3: Razor's Edge. Both were enough to put me off for a while. I don't have any online gaming friends and in both instances I thought it might be a way to extend the gaming experience beyond the single player mode. In both instances I quickly grew bored.

Using NG3 as an example, I went online after about day 5 of the main game. Immediately I got overpowered by the other players. So, if I was only interested in the multi-player experience, I can see how I might want to boost my stats quickly.

As others have already pointed out here though, for someone primarily interested n the single-player experience, like myself, they simply don't make sense. Hopefully we never get forced into the situation of having to pay more money to finish a game - that really would drive a lot of people away.

SteveW

#17

SteveW said:

I kind of like it because it will save me tons of money in the long run because I refuse to waste my money on any game that does this crap. Paying for extra levels or characters is fine but things that halt your gameplay until you pay just suck and EA will kill themselves with this crap.

LavaTwilight

#18

LavaTwilight said:

Like most people here, DLC is something I can really get my teeth into and if I like the game, something I would willingly do. This 'micro-transaction' thing is new to me but one I'm familiar with as it would be to anyone who's played almost any Facebook game. It's something that is in such bad sport. It even ruins the fun from a game. I could never see myself buying something that I could 'earn' or 'unlock' for free anyway. I just don't get the mentality behind it... Micro-Transactions must be marketed to stupid people because I just really don't understand the value of it!

DrKarl

#19

DrKarl said:

@ThomasBW84 You are rationalizing regarding Fire Emblem.

Had the DLC in Fire Emblem simply been extra maps, with no carryover into the main story, Nintendo would have been treading a safer path. However, they chose not to go that route. It sours the experience for me.

Being able to play a DLC map over and over for bullion? Really Nintendo?

Jellitoe

#20

Jellitoe said:

Micro transactions should be for FTP games only.
This crap about selling items for full Retail releases is crap.
Now if your talking a full expansion like Guild Wars does or like Nintendo is doing with SMBU, thats different.

ThomasBW84Admin

#21

ThomasBW84 said:

@DrKarl Yeah, I can see that point, absolutely. Perhaps it's another example of that "slippery slope" that's the core point of the article.

FluttershyGuy

#22

FluttershyGuy said:

Here's the thing: Video game sales are down. The economy is in the crapper, and people can't afford games/systems like they could in past years. So, companies have to find a way to extract more money from people who CAN afford it, to compensate for the lost sales. If they can find enough people to continually go along with these con games, they'll continue to do so. Didn't EA say something about people "enjoying" microtransactions in their press release? Well, the more we go along with it, the more we'll be force fed it. I can just see getting Madden '15 with partial conferences & divisions. I love my Denver Broncos to no end. But, not enough to pay $5 extra for the "right" to able to play them, LOL. I agree with @erv . This slippery slope leads to video game Hell!

@Five-seveN
We've already reached a form of "insert coin to continue." With "Final Fantasy: All the Bravest", I understand that, should you be killed, you can either wait to "regenerate", or you can pay to revive instantly. This is after you've already bought the game. Plus, I understand there is a similar thing with iOS "Capcom Arcade", that you pay to continue, unless you've purchased the individual games. With these new credit card readers out that can be connected, for example, to iOS devices, it'll soon have the feel of "insert coin" too.

timp29

#23

timp29 said:

Apple in the last week has had to pay $100 million to people whose kids bought 'free' games off itunes, then had to 'pay as you go' for more content. The problem being that as iTunes/appstore is already linked to a credit card, and they're kids, the kids had no concept of spending the folks money. I think the most a single kid spent was $196, but the fact that the settlement across all the people that got hit was $100 million, this is the ugly profiteering side of 'pay as you go'.

Blizzard with its online auction house in diablo 3 is also interesting. They make 15% of all money exchanged (with a maximum single transaction of $250). Basically this is all a cash grab (which everyone already knew). Shame on you EA for joining in - says to me lets exploit our customers. Why make a game based on skill, when you you can make a game based on who has the largest disposable income.

I don't think you should be able to spend money on something that has no physical existence (with the exception being buying online games - but buying things that only exist within that game is bollocks)

Haywired

#24

Haywired said:

Well DLC was sanctimoniously sniffed at by Nintendo fans (and quite right too imo!) as something that only other companies do and Nintendo was far too good and holy to get involved with. Then when Nintendo did it, it miraculously became "a great idea" all of a sudden... So I predict this will probably be similar.

carlocunanan

#25

carlocunanan said:

I'm really scared.... You're already paying $60 but if it ends up like a game like Real Racers.... hmm.... That would be horrific

theblackdragonAdmin

#26

theblackdragon said:

I don't mind DLC as long as it's brand new content, not just stuff being unlocked from the disc or cartridge i've already purchased. As for microtransactions, if StreetPass battles or WFC multiplayer is involved, as long as there's a reasonable way for me to acquire the same items or reasonable facsimiles in-game, again I don't mind — it needs to be feasible for the average player to be able to acquire the same things the paying player is able to in order to have a somewhat level playing field. At that point, it becomes a choice as to which you'd rather invest in your game — more money or some old-fashioned hard work.

MegaAdam

#27

MegaAdam said:

Micro transactions make me want to quit playing video games. Or rather, quit buying new videogames and just play 10-25 year old video games.

eviLaTtenDant

#28

eviLaTtenDant said:

I want my game to be complete when i buy it. I don't think stuff that's only meant to make the game easier will ever see money from me.
And there's a really fun thing about microtransactions for multiplayer games. If there aren't seperate communities i probably won't play it. And if the game's big draw is multiplayer i'll only be willing to pay less and just enjoy the single-player experience. Talk about biting your own tail.

WiiULoveSquid

#29

WiiULoveSquid said:

@Thomas well presented article. Food for thought as a dedicated gamer today.

@TBD that's one of my main concerns too. Hopefully publishers keep a sense of balance not just for their books.

And also, I'm not ready just yet for micro transactions in Zelda. Please Nintendo if you must ease me extra carefully into that particular prospect. Or make me pay premium for DLC as alternative.

BakaKnight

#30

BakaKnight said:

I didn't know the "Real Racing" case and seems EA is doing exactly what I fear most...
I really hope such system will NEVER get into the games I like!!!

I'm fine about DLC because, when done right, it allows the developpers to keep make the game grow even after the release and can make sense to pay an extra little bit for new levels, characters and such that weren't planned at the release or didn't make in it on time.

But, seriously, microtransiction instead are the worst! The 99% of the free games I saw with them are games intentionally planned for annoy the player asap so that he/she will pay for get faster that weapon or upgrade and such.

Basically those games have a gameplay in which the progression in game is obtained by money and I don't see the fun in a game where getting the stronger monster or weapon just means I putted more real money in the game...

I really really hope that such "microtransiction system" will never become common in our gaming experience.
So so glad Nintendo is staying away from that and instead focusing on DLC and keep make their games grow :)

LDXD

#31

LDXD said:

@timp29 I'm so glad you brought that up and that is exactly what this is going to turn into sooner or later

FluttershyGuy

#32

FluttershyGuy said:

@Adamical
That's the point I'm fast approaching. Online connectivity has had great benefits, but also opened a veritable pandora's box, containing con games for game makers to play to exploit us.

Depending on how Nintendo is about these matters next generation (assuming it participates in next gen hardware), Wii U may be my last console. LOTS I've never played on past consoles, and I won't get nickled & dimed. God knows we get enough of that every day we live these days, in everything from bills to grocery shopping.

gsnap

#33

gsnap said:

The use of these types of microtransactions encourages the publisher and developer to make bad games. In order for microtransactions to work they need to develop a game that we don't actually want to play, but would rather feed money into. If the game is so good that you actually want to play it, then you wouldn't spend the money on the microtransactions. It literally takes the industry in a bad direction and encourages bad game design.

SilentHunter382

#34

SilentHunter382 said:

Personally I am fine with Micro-Transactions as long as the game is free. If you have to pay €60 and then have Micro-Transactions in that game then I don't like it.

Reason with it being ok in free games is that the developers have to get there money somewhere and that is from Micro-Transactions. But games like DS3 shouldn't have them since they got there money from buying the game. Real Post launch DLC is fine to make a bit more from it but to me if a game like that had Micro-Transactions in it then it would make me not want to get it.

The only time I am ok with Micro-Transactions in a €60 game is a games like Diablo III where you can pay money to buy items from other players using ingame money or real money. Diablo take a cut of what you sell the item for (I think its like 15%) but this method is fine as you can make money from it and at the same time the Developer gets a small cut too. Win Win IMO

mookysam

#35

mookysam said:

Microtransactions are annoying, but at the moment I can happily ignore them. I didn't buy Oblivion Horse Armour or Mass Effect 2 weapon packs. I have no intention of purchasing the ridiculous item or experience point packs for Tales of Vesperia. However some people MUST be buying them or publishers simply wouldn't bother selling them.

I said "at the moment" because in the future I can see important elements of games being held back unless a fee is paid - similar to how many FTP games do. For games that cost £40, this is unacceptable. There are already games that close off entire modes unless you have an Xbox Live subscription (Halo 4's Spartan Ops, which is entirely playable alone!), so I can fully see this going a step further.

FluttershyGuy

#36

FluttershyGuy said:

A couple of things I was thinking (that may've been mentioned: First, if the rumor about the next XBox is true, and it's REQUIRED to always be online, then you're really going to see micro-transactions milked. If they know you're online because you HAVE TO BE to play the game in the first place, then you're going to see micro-transactions skyrocket.

Second (and it's part of what has been previously mentioned about bad game design), you could see games made IMPOSSIBLY HARD, so people will give in and buy more powerful weapons/armor/etc. just in order to stand a fighting chance. I don't like where this is leading at all.

One thing's for certain: As this business model becomes more popular, we're going to find out who the reputable and disreputable publishers are. And I won't support a company like EA, which is proving itself as disreputable, with one red penny.

Slapshot

#37

Slapshot said:

So, DLC is praised here to high heaven when it makes its way to Nintendo's consoles years late, but micro-transactions aren't?

Dead Space 3's micro-transactions aren't upfront and noticeable. Also, they aren't integrated into the gameplay at all. They are there for the certain few that desire to break the basic gameplay apart by allowing them to purchase the things they don't want to actually achieve in game. It's a win for the developer and a loss for the gamer who is wasting his money away.

As long as a full priced retail title doesn't build itself around micro-transactions - something that EA has not done - I don't see thing wrong with it. It's completely optional.

As for micros-transactions affecting online multiplayer, well, that's an easy one too. If the developer wants to keep gamers involved in its games - don't allow micro-transactions to be utilised with the online elements of the title. If said developer was to allow boosting micro-transactions in the online components of a full priced retail title, gamers would most likely not continue supporting said developer and the issue resolves itself. That's the way the fundamental basics of how the industry works - it's just that simplistic.

Real Racing 3 holds a 71 average on Metacritic, with IGN (and three other sites) awarding the game at or above the 90% mark. Eurogamer has the lowest marks for the title, and while I'm not discrediting their review, it's clearly far below the average and the majority of people feel quite differently about the title, including myself.

Intrusive micro-transactions are there primarily for the Free to Play model. In the mobile front, this works because the amount of games on offer are so extensive and cheap that you have to have a 'hook' to keep gamers around. Real Racing 3 is so intrusive because its guaranteed to amaze casual gamers into playing it with its fantastic visuals and amazing online multiplayer options. The team has done several interviews discussing this and there's a good reason why it's chosen this approach with Real Racing 3 - the model works for high end mobile titles.

epylon

#38

epylon said:

Anyone who partakes in the purchase of micro transactions needs enrolling in a eugenics programme, for the good of the future of gaming.

AlbertoC

#39

AlbertoC said:

"...there's something a little worrying about a concept originally conceived for the smartphone/tablet space being increasingly shoe-horned into the conventional gaming market. "

This. Thanks, Thomas, for getting the point across. You can't begin to charge on 60 USD games what you charge on 5 or 10 or freebie, ad-supported, smartphone ones. Like Angry Birds, so can now customers buy their game-through experience? So nowadays,for EA, if they pay a lot the game pampers them, just because casual gamers are the latest trend shout?

Take fire Emblem, for example. Its DLC content is amazing and it can breathe new life on old games, but buying it all isn't an option for most people. Hardcore fans and rich people can afford that, but even if the content offered is good, a game is still just a game. There is a limit on how much a customer can spend on a game before moving on.

Things are a bit different for most people if that DLC is offered for Mario Kart 7 or similar games. Do you know what makes "those" games similar? Solid online gaming, which adds a lot of replay value. You can gather with your friends anytime and play, near or far. (But then there is Microsoft charging just for letting gamers use their servers.)

How about Nintendo begins to offer a premium Mario Kart online service offering every single track, item and character in existence for a fee? And that server is connected to Nintendo IDs, with cross-console points, times and records? Something like the pokemon global link but with Mario Kart, and paid.

But there is this problem called "people are not made of credit cards and internet money." Say i'm interested on buying something from the eShop, have enough real cash in my hands, but i'm a student and don't have a credit card. What do these international, renowned compaties wanting money and more money have to say? Greed? "I have this gold mine and must leech from it the most i can?" (Just putting a non-realistic example that never happens.)

Zombie_Barioth

#40

Zombie_Barioth said:

@FluttershyGuy has a point about micro-transactions being another way to keep profits healthy, just like pay as you go and subsidized plans. They can be a good thing for F2P games since when done right (like TF2) if you enjoy it and pay $5 for something, congrats your enjoying a game you only payed $5 out of pocket for. Not so much for $60 (or even $40) retail games.

DLC on the other hand is fine when completely optional and priced reasonably. Of course you can also usually wait for a GOTY or complete edition instead.

Slapshot

#41

Slapshot said:

@AlbertoC "You can't begin to charge on 60 USD games what you charge on 5 or 10 or freebie, ad-supported, smartphone ones."

Why can't it? Because who says so? Game publishers/developers can do whatever they likes, whenever they like, as long as it pleases the investors and brings in capital to the company.

See, this is why the way things are written matter. This piece makes it sound as if Dead Space 3's micro-transactions are a vital/necessary part of the game, like they are with the freemium models. They aren't at all and if you actually play the game you will know this. The "micro-transactions" are nothing more than instant DLC options and they aren't advertised or thrown in your face either. In fact, I've never even seen an in prompt to purchase any of them for that matter.

EvisceratorX

#42

EvisceratorX said:

EA has to be one of the most arrogant and greedy companies I've ever seen and they continue to outdo themselves. I refuse to buy any of their games, but I genuinely am wondering how long they can stay on this course. Eventually, people are going to wise up and realize what a leech this company is on our industry.

Spectator

#44

Spectator said:

Day one DLC popping up on games like Dragon Age 2 bother me, gives me the impression that the companies never put together a full game. Then they ask us to buy stuff that should have been in the game in the first place. I'm not a fan of being nickel and dime to death, but DLC can be great if it adds to the game not something that should have been in the game in the first place.

Draken18

#45

Draken18 said:

I'm fine with DLC, although day one DLC is a pain, but I can't stand micro-transactions in console games. I understand it for iOS/android games as they are normally free of cheap and it gives those developers a chance to make more than $1 on their games.

hms

#46

hms said:

No thanks to microshoppers. I'll use my EA season pass then this season and PASS all EA games and get them from sales later.

LDXD

#47

LDXD said:

@Slapshot most people are concerned with how far they will actually take this 10-15 year's from now are we going to have to buy our continues buy our main gameplay items or weapons with real money ? What this will eventually evolve into is them taking advantage of people and it's very bad business practice

Mikau94

#49

Mikau94 said:

I am not a big fan of DLC but I hate Micro transactions. They may work with iOS games because they are cheap or free to download but we are already paying $40-70 on new games. I wouldn't pay extra just to have a better gun or vehicle because I play to have fun; I don't turn gaming into an all out war on my competition, doing anything it takes to win. I can understand downloading new levels like Fire Emblem or the Force Unleashed though because they actually add to the game

This is one big reason I won't buy games by EA anymore, although NFS Most Wanted looks pretty sweet.

Bankai

#50

Bankai said:

Thomas, just a quick question here: did you actually play Real Racing 3? Because I haven't spent much real money on it at all ($5 or something for one car when I started playing) and I'm progressing and a perfectly acceptable rate.

The microtransactions are somewhat irritating, but not even close enough to deserve the review that Eurogamer gave it. If this is a "talking point" article, why didn't you balance that review out with someone who didn't mind the microtransaction model as much. Like, for instance, mine (3.5/5)?

Of course most consumers don't like microtransactions. Most consumers don't like spending money on anything in the games industry. But I long ago decided that I like to have interesting games to play. And the only way that's going to happen is if the people that make the games make some money.

I have less sympathy for consumers who complain about being asked to optionally pay $5 for a game that they can download and play for free.

Ernest_The_Crab

#51

Ernest_The_Crab said:

As long as it's non-obstructive and doesn't really give anyone any significant advantage I don't feel there's really an issue. It's not like anyone is forcing people to buy stuff. Now if it results in a terrible game because of micro-transactions that's another story (but then again in most cases that's pretty subjective).

Neram

#52

Neram said:

It's really too bad that someone can't come out and enforce something like a 6-month period after a game is released where no DLC is allowed to be added. The idea of infusing life into an old game is awesome, imo. Imagine going back right now and playing a brand new dungeon in Skyward Sword. DLC is fine if a game gets released complete first, and it's completely optional.

As far as micro transactions, well that's just stupid. Imagine buying a board game where it's missing pieces, and you have to buy them separately to complete the set. Micro transactions are nothing but a snakey way for companies to improve profit, one where the consumer doesn't benefit. DLC is no different than expansion packs, just smaller and cheaper, and that model has worked for ages. I will say though, the only way this future where all games have micro transactions will happen, is if people buy into it.

Bankai

#53

Bankai said:

@Neram

No. It's more like buying a board game that is complete and playable, and then having the option of buying more pieces that look a little different;

Have people even played EA's microtransaction-enabled games? They are all complete games. Every one of them. And then if you want some extras, or want to speed up certain elements of the game, you can hand EA a little extra money.

It's not a problem.

ecco6t9

#54

ecco6t9 said:

I've said it before, the 3DS and Wii U will be my last systems. I do not like where the industry is going so it will be time to hang it up.

But I did have plenty of great times.

Kirk

#55

Kirk said:

I'm not against the idea of micro-transactions in principle but I'm against the way that some companies seem to be approaching it.

In an ideal world the game should be just like a full release stand alone game by default, that you could play and enjoy fully without ever purchasing any additional content and ultimately never even notice anything to the contrary, and the micro-transactions should just be an optional extra that you only ever see if you choose to use them, imo. That is all. No part of the game should force these transactions on the player and the experience shouldn't feel gimped or restricted in some way.

Many modern games that are focused on this micro-transaction model get it terribly wrong imo. Where all you see is Buy buttons directly in the HUD, intrusive pop-ups, superfluous menu screens and options that you have to pass through to get to the main game content, all pointing you to the micro-transactions.

Basically, the overall experience actually feels worse because of them, even when you're not interested in having anything to do with them and just want to play the basic game.

That's just not the way to go about it imo.

Mk_II

#56

Mk_II said:

As usual, Iwata got it exactly right: microtransactions are unwholesome

A five-year-old boy from Bristol has left his parents with a big headache after accidentally spending £1,700 on iTunes.
Sharon and Greg Kitchen did not realise what their son Danny had done until emails confirming the purchases came flooding in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-21620814

ThomasBW84Admin

#57

ThomasBW84 said:

Hey all, was out last night so wasn't around to answer anything!

What @Slapshot is saying is right in a sense, but I never said Dead Space 3 was throwing mandatory micro-transactions around, I very clearly said it was optional. I made points about how they may lure some gamers in, and I spoke about how some may spend money on this stuff that means they potentially pass on another game, affecting the whole eco-system — which, I hasten to add, the big-boys need in order to thrive. The point is that this is a slippery slope, and can potentially be a negative thing. Yes it's gamer choice, that's not up for debate, but the potential impact of that choice matters, in my view.

In terms of Real Racing 3, I've had a go of it, and I also appreciate what EG are saying. I've had a number of free mobile games that get the balance of micro-transactions wrong (again, it's an issue of how they can be abused, not that they're completely wrong), and it's a big turn-off that often prompts me to delete that game. My fear is that a couple of years from now we'll have $60 games with poorly balanced micro-transactions that impact the main experience. If some naive gamers get burned repeatedly by practices like this and walk, then that's bad for the whole industry.

Bankai

#58

Bankai said:

But what you're describing is simple. It's a bad game.

That's like pointing to the cynical mess of most shovel ware on the Wii and suggesting it means the end of the games industry. When games like Ninjabread Man sucker people into spending $40 on them then clearly every game is going to do that?

Of course no. Microtransactions are not the problem. Bad use of microtransactions is. Just like the industry has survived with bad games forever.

EA isn't the one doing the bad microtransactions. And that includes Real Racing 3. I'm 20 hours in, still making regular progress, and only spend $5.

Burning_Spear

#59

Burning_Spear said:

I see this as the end of being able to complete or "100 percent" a game. There's always going to be something more to purchase, and I'm skeptical of the quality that would be added to the experience. For a cheap download game, OK, but for $60, we should get everything. I can still pop SMB3 into my NES and play the entire game. Years from now, I fear that we’ll be playing these games and remembering that there were levels or power-ups that were once available but were lost during a system transfer or weren’t preserved during emulation of a game.

This is a way of conditioning us to accept that a $60 game is really a $70 game. Slowly you’ll see micro-transactions and DLC become more integral to the core game, almost necessitating those purchases, especially for those who want to be competitive in online play. I'm OK with the idea of allowing people to pay to avoid grinding, but the free alternative (grinding) should never be as time-consuming as it is in Real Racing 3. I also see developers focusing on genres and game play that encourage or even necessitate micro-transactions and DLC. Add elements to the game play to facilitate micro-transactions.

There’s a way for developers to make money without resorting to this: Create better experiences. Make people want to buy a game at launch, rather than waiting for a price drop or buying a used copy.

FuriousFrancis

#60

FuriousFrancis said:

I almost dedicated a whole episode to the crap thats called microtransactions. I'm glad Nintendo doesn't do that garbage in their games. You can watch my rant on it here. Nintendo is one of the few companies that does dlc and paid DLC right.

Araknie

#61

Araknie said:

Well, seems like is the only one that already spoken of it, outside of EA, and said no.
DLCs are one thing, they can be done greatly they bring, most of the times, major content, even if it's D1, but you have that forever and you can use that.

But DLCs are bad when they are already on disc, like RE5, like Dead Space 3. (that had 11 DLCs on the disc)

Figures with micro-transactions, you can only imagine: despite it beign really action i wanted to play DS3, then i hear that about that, about this doodoo, about that crafting thing. That game had DLCs on disc, micro-transactions and some other poopie.
When i heard all that i simply could not see myself having fun playing that, it has a so negative image that ruins the fun.
And videogames are all about fun.

Bankai

#62

Bankai said:

@Burning_Spear at $60 they're not going to make enough money back even if they hit obscene attach rates with game releases.

I really don't think gamers appreciate how low-margin game development is. Just making enough to survive is considered a success. It's not going to be a healthy industry as long as gamers continue to assume that $60 is a fair price for games.

AlexSora89

#63

AlexSora89 said:

I didn't have any problems with DLC until I read EA's plans to rape gaming with it in the newspost earlier this week. Seriously, as long as DLC aren't as omnipresent as some people already want them to be, I don't see any problems with it.

LDXD

#66

LDXD said:

Games really do need to be more money or game devs and publishers need to tone it down with the voice acting and such but us as gamers want more and more so we kinda bring this on our selves in a way this is what happens when you put gameplay behind everything else. We can argue over this forever but I don't see micro transactions going away. Once that door is open it will be impossible to close

GiftedGimp

#67

GiftedGimp said:

I said it the other day, This I corperate greed no more no less.
Micro-transactions don't have any place in full price retail games. A lot of DLc is becoming dubious as it is now.

If what I read a few days back is true (can't remember where), Then EA's Micro-Transaction system has been rejected by Nintendo for the WiiU, and that's why EA are not commiting fully to WiiU and have been more public about their opinions of the WiiU and the upcoming consoles, showing full support for nextbox/ps4 and disregarding the WiiU.

Tank-Tank-Tank and even Zen Pinball 2 are the closest games on home consoles should be in terms of Micro-transactions. You basically get a trial of the games content for free, then buy the parts your interested in.
Imagine if Call Of Duty was like that, You could download it and try a bit of single player & taste a bit of the Multiplayer for free but then choose to buy just the multiplayer, the single player or both components of the game.

Sadly publishers on the whole would rather get you to pay for in-game items, seperatly and probably repeatedly, and rip us off than use the micro-transaction to benifit gamers.

Wait for the day you find a powerfull weapob in game, only to find the ammo is extremely rare, and when you do find it so little its usless, but theres a boss thats practically invincible to any other weapon and your choice is to keep trying with the standard weapons you have in the hope you get lucky or Pay £5 for 500 rounds which kills the boss easier, using 490 of those rounds you've just brought...
Trust me that time in gaming is coming, and if EA have their way, It's coming Very Soon.

GiftedGimp

#69

GiftedGimp said:

@LDXD I hope its true too, I found the piece by accident and cant seem to find it now via my browser history, its out there somewhere tho... If I do find the link I'll post it.

andreoni79

#70

andreoni79 said:

Sooner or later we'll see in Fifa or Madden something like this:
" You threw the ball out of the stadium. Pay $0.50 to buy a new one and continue the game"

Slapshot

#73

Slapshot said:

@ThomasBW84 Thanks for the reply Tom. The point I was trying to make is that for a "Talking Point," the article is heavily slanted into one direction, without ever really giving a polar opposite to 'talk' about. Using Eurogamer's Real Racing 3 review alone, without giving any sort of credit to any of the game's other reviews that all score higher than it gives the article a near extreme unbalance too. In short, anyone who doesn't follow the industry outside of the typical gamer has no idea about why Real Racing 3 is a freemium title (yes, there's actually a very significant reason as to why the game is what it is - it's a show-off title for mobile gaming that everyone can play it without spending a single dime on it. Also, the team/publisher spent a lot of money on it and it has to make its money back somehow - right?), or how micro-transactions actually are implemented properly into a game.

Loyal Nintendo gamers don't have any real experience with micro-transactions, so this information is needed for an argument against the subject. You also specifically speak towards EA's full retail titles that include micro-transactions, which are by far one of the shining examples of how to do it properly. They're there, but they are barely even noticeable and have extremely little to no affect to the game's fundamental design. In fact, with Dead Space 3 I only know about them because of following the industry, I haven't encountered them in game at all as of yet.

I'm a bit confused on how micro-transactions are taking money away from the industry, when they are in fact adding to it. Here's another angle to think about: online multiplayer keeps gamers busy for hundreds/thousands of hours on one single $60 purchase, yet a dollar here and there are for micro-transactions are more harmful? I think these small transactions are minute and will never catch-on with full retail titles - gamers have to actually start buying them to make it something substantial. Real Racing 3 is not a retail title, it's an entirely different demographic that's aimed an an much different group of people.

There's some really great point in your piece, I just feel that it's very unfair and uninformative to those that know little on this subject, as it doesn't pertain to "Nintendo" very much at all.

MrL1193

#74

MrL1193 said:

I don't necessarily see DLC itself as a bad thing, but it certainly seems to leave potential for game developers to get lazy. Providing things like additional levels or a shortcut for particularly lazy players can be nice, but pushing a game out the door before it's ready and using DLC to cover up for issues like poor balancing is definitely not a good thing--especially if the gamer has to eat the "repair costs." And as far as "on-disc" DLC goes, I think the recent reactions to the idea of blocking used games makes it clear how people feel about not fully owning games they bring home with them. DLC can be a useful tool, but it has to be used well, and I'm not sure these game companies are moving in the right direction with it.

The_Fox

#75

The_Fox said:

I played through Dead Space 3 and never touched (or needed to, really) the microtransactions. As long as they're not required I see them as only a minor annoyance.

AlbertoC

#76

AlbertoC said:

@Slapshot First of all, I recognize this text is sightly biased against micro-transactions. But I also think you completely missed my point.

Apps that cost little are given that price tag because they will have more revenue later, and with ads the income will arrive regardless if the user downloaded a free app or paid pocket money for it, and that's a legitimate business model. However, by paying $60 I expect a full game experience, not an incomplete or excessively hard one that can be just easened, and nothing more, by paying even more money. I'm not necessarily applying those labels to DS3 since I have played it and have seen they are completely optional. It's the approach titles like Angry birds took where like i said, if the user pays the game pampers them, that could make micro-transactions dangerous to players' perceptions: "I can just buy my way through any game". It might be also dangerous to the creation of original content since, and i'm quoting EA, they just can sell a truck, a gun, or whatever it might be for more, easier profit.

You also seem to have conveniently dismissed the rest of my text, where i give my thoughts on why the DLC and online multiplayer fees approaches are a lot better IMHO. But maybe you're right, EA can, must, should and will have all the greed it wants just because it means money and more money, and this is what is certainly damaging their image with, at least, some commenters on this site.

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