Are Microtransactions in AAA games really a bad thing?

I’ll be going into hiding after this one.

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Microtransactions have become a mainstay in the AAA games industry as of late. Despite major criticism from customers online, they don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Why is that? Why do the get so much Criticism? What could publishers do to reduce criticism? What is the future for them? Are they really as bad as we think?

Quick Note: I see microtransactions in a free to play game as fair game as long as the items available can be obtained without having to buy them. Those games have got to make money too.

Why do Microtransactions get so much criticism?

There are a number of reasons why microtransactions get more flak than Trump in California these days. The most obvious reason being the fact that, after already paying $60 for a game, publishers expect us to fork out more money to unlock any of the cool items in game like skins, camo’s, in-game items, guns, voice over packs and even Flag packs (Really Activision, Really?). The other issue is the ‘game-breaking’ nature of some. Take Fifa as an example, you spend your money on what is essentially a wheel spin to get maybe a half decent player you can either use or sell on the in-game market for coins to buy another player you wanted. Now, you can ‘grind’ to get the coins to buy these players by playing games, but if you did that, the next game would be out by the time you got near the coin amount of the top players on the game (The introduction of FUT Champs went halfway to solving this problem). Despite all of this, isn’t it a little bit stupid that what players you get is essentially a random spin of a wheel? The points to open these packs are’t cheap either. 12,000 of them will set you back a cool £80 (£72 with EA/ Origin Access), and odds are you won’t make that back in terms of coin value or players ‘packed’.

Why are Microtransactions not going anywhere?

The short answer is money. Games like Battlefield and Call Of Duty make far too much money out of them. Activision made over $1 billion dollars last year alone in microtransactions in Call Of Duty, Overwatch and World Of Warcraft. From a business standpoint, you’d be stupid not to implement them in your games. Now, I am using Activision as the scapegoat here, purely because as a COD player for many years, it’s easier for me to explain the point I’m trying to make. However, EA, Ubisoft and soon to be Bethesda (it’s paid mods and I won’t hear otherwise Pete Hines) are all guilty for this too. And for the most part, in the publisher’s eyes anyway, these things aren’t affecting the game anyway as most are just cosmetic items (seriously if you put game changing items behind a random paywall with no other way to obtain them then you really are a pile of shit).

How can publishers make the system better?

There is a few things publishers can do to make microtransactions better for there audience as more of a goodwill gesture to customers. Publishers could take a similar approach to Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive, by making in-game items worth real life money. However, if you wanted to avoid that legal minefield, make it an in game fake currency which you can exchange for other items in game that were perhaps more sought after. Another approach is making all other DLC free like Halo 5 and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2 (as previously mentioned in the Call of Duty Conundrum). This method also would keep more players interested as you aren’t splitting them into groups of have and have not. In an ideal world, both systems would be used but if I had to pick one it would be making all other DLC items free.

What’s the future?

Simply put, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Microtransactions make far too much money for any business to sacrifice for the sake of a few complaints. At what level they are integrated depends. I can’t see it going full free to play crappy mobile game but I see perhaps more detailed micro-transactions in future releases. I hope players can still grind and unlock these items without having to buy them.

And Finally…

Are Microtransactions all that bad?

In their current format, yes. But, with a few tweaks to the system and some general goodwill toward the consumer from the publishers, I think microtransactions can and will (s/o to Roman Reigns) be accepted by the majority of players worldwide.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Bethesda’s E3 Showcase

Bethesdaland is like Wicksteed Park

At two previous E3s, Bethesda stepped up its presence at E3 by having its own annual showcase. 2017 was no different and here is what we learnt.

Note: Expect this one to be shorter than the others as they didn’t reveal much.

Bethesda kicked off the show by announcing that two of their biggest titles, Fallout 4 and Doom will be playable in VR. Titled Fallout 4 VR (obviously) and Doom VFR respectively, both titles will launch later this year on HTC Vive exclusively.

My Thoughts: If you could afford the HTC Vive without selling your entire collection of technology and your soul, this would’ve been a huge deal. It’s a massive step for VR, whose lack of ‘Real games’ has been one of its biggest criticisms. So, if you have HTC Vive, enjoy two great games for it.

After being seen in the trailer for the system back in October, we also got a trailer for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch. We saw that it was amiibo compatible and you can get the Master Sword, Links Blue Tunic and the Hylian Shield in Skyrim. Unfortunately we didn’t get a release date but they did say everything we saw would be out in 2017, so expect it this year at some point. Elder Scrolls Legends, Bethesda’s mobile card game also had some new content announced in the form of a brand new expansion titles ‘Heroes of Skyrim’ releasing later this month. Speaking of Elder Scrolls, we also got a trailer for the recently released Morrowind Expansion for Elder Scrolls Online. Quake Champions was also shown, with a hype trailer and a $1 million prize pool E-Sports tournament later this year at Quake Con. Wolfenstein protagonist BJ Blazkowicz was revealed to be a playable character within the game.

My Thoughts: Skyrim for Switch looks awesome, playing one of my favourite games will on the move is going to be great. If you like the Elder Scrolls Legends, the new stuff is cool. For me however, I’m not invested in this news at all. And the Elder Scrolls Online stuff was for promotion purposes only. As for Quake Champions, I don’t play PC games so have no thoughts.

Bethesda also unveiled a sort of paid mods system called ‘Creation Club’ for Fallout 4 and Skyrim where players buy credits from either Xbox Live, Playstation Network or Steam and exchange these credits for original content that won’t affect achievements, like current mods do. Bethesda mentioned in a FAQ on their website, that this is separate to Mods currently on both games and will continue to be so.

My Thoughts: I’m not sure about this, paid mods weren’t a great idea initially. and this just seems that but tied up in a nice bow and gift wrapped. However, if this stays separate to free mods, I don’t see this being an issue.

Also, revealed at the show was Arkane studio’s Dishonored Death of the Outsider, a standalone expansion, where you see Daud(the assassin who murdered the Empress in the first game) and ex-second in command Billie Kurk as you have to eliminate The Outsider. The game will release on September 15th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC and will cost $30.

My Thoughts: Dishonored 1 and 2 are both good games, so it’s a reasonable assumption that this will also be at least good, significantly shorter, but still good.

Bethesda closed the show with two major announcements in the form of The Evil Within 2, an action horror game made by Tango Gameworks, led by Resident Evil  creator Shinji Mikami. They gave the game a lengthy reveal trailer which pushed the horror vibes the developers were surely going for. The game is set to be released on Friday 13th October later this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Closing the show, MachineGames latest creation Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. Set in 1960s America, protagonist and real American BJ Blazkowicz returns and joins up with a resistance group attempting to take America back from the Nazis (*insert Trump Joke here*). The game is set to release on October 27th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

My Thoughts: Both games had a great showing at this conference, and both follow on from great games, so I hope they live up to expectations and will definitely be getting both come October.

All in all, I feel Bethesda’s showcase was an average showing. The two games at the end made it worth the watch and I hope both games deliver.