Imagine entering your favourite game and finding out there is an update that will allow newer players (read noobs) to play with more experienced players, just because they can BUY gear that used be available only at higher levels. Now wouldn’t that be a gamebreaker?
Over the recent years, the tradition of “Cheat codes” has been reduced drastically due to how people like playing their games as organically as possible without any artificial boost. But these cheat codes have come back in a different form; Microtransactions. Microtransactions allow you to purchase weapons, resources, armour, characters, skins and sometimes even part of the game itself. Asura’s Wrath and EA’s Battlefront 2 are some of the infamous examples of microtransaction implementations going south. Asura’s Wrath was a great game but had its actual ending hidden behind a paywall and Battlefront 2’s pay-to-win loot boxes.
By the way, check out the most downvoted comment on Reddit: bit.ly/2Otny09
On October 2017, Activision was granted a patent for driving microtransactions in multiplayer videogames in the US. The abstract is as follows, “A system and method is provided that drives microtransactions in multiplayer video games . The system may include a microtransaction arrange matches to influence game – related purchases . For instance , the system may match a more expert / marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game - related purchases of items possessed / used by the marquee player . A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player”
While Activision claims that this patent was a mere “exploratory” patent filed by their now-disconnected R&D team, it gives an insight into how developers and publishers think and design games to make player do purchases. Looks like games also play you often, right? While this also raises a question of how much freewill a player has in a game, it also completely disregards the gaming community’s feedback about how unfair this system is.
EA being under fire in the recent years broke its mould by releasing a single-player campaign-based game called Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order and is surprised by how good the sales are. The sales have surpassed the expected 8 billion by the end of last January, EA is aiming to reach 10 million by end of March. While the major video game publishers and developers are beginning to slowly lend an ear towards the united call of the gaming community for better designed games, we can’t expect the trend of microtransactions to completely die off. Cosmetics microtransactions are not frowned upon by players as they do not impede game-play progress.
In a Facebook group, Creative Director Hugo Martin announced that Doom Eternal will be a “Zero microtransactions” game. When major publishers like id Software listen to their fans and target audience, we can be hopeful that the video game industry and the video games themselves have a chance to become better.