Weekend Open Forum: Your take on microtransactions

By on June 29, 2012, 7:41 PM

Free-to-play games have become increasingly popular and according to Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore, they'll be the norm in as little as five years, with only major franchises surviving as $60 products. "I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free," Moore told Kotaku last week. Industry executives often say wacky things, but Moore's sentiments aren't exactly far-fetched when you look at how many companies are using the freemium model.

Tons of new games are being developed around microtransactions from the get-go, while many outfits have used free-to-play as a backup strategy following poor retail performance, and developers like Valve have converted games that were already successful such as Team Fortress 2 to experiment with the model. Even Diablo 3, a full price game, has embraced microtransactions to an extent. Players technically can't buy items directly from Blizzard, but the company gets a cut of real money auction house sales.

Although I think it's awesome developers are exploring uncharted waters, I've yet to buy in-game items with real money. Maybe I'll eventually get comfortable with it -- I might have to if Moore's predictions hold true -- but exchanging cash for digital gear feels... exploitative. DLC aside, when I buy a game outright, I get the full experience, whereas free-to-play games by their very nature must hinder my access. Some titles do this more tastefully than others, but it doesn't change the way I feel about microtransactions.

Have you purchased in-game items, characters or currency with real cash? If so, in what game(s)? If not, what's stopping you?




User Comments: 28

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davislane1 davislane1 said:

I don't condemn the the practice outright, but I think it's going to be the end of gaming as many of us have known it over the past 20 years. The micro transaction model works from a profit perspective, and I have no issues with publishers & developers making money for their work (regardless of whether I happen to like the end product). However, I dread what's likely to happen to games as a result of P2W, and more importantly Pay for Quality, becoming the norm in the microtransaction world. I've seen what this has done in the CoD and iOS (Infinity Blade) worlds and I'm not looking forward to the same thing happening across the rest of gaming. If the microtransaction model takes hold, I'd expect mainstream gaming to resembled cable television in ten years time: cheap, frustrating, and unimaginative.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Nope I never have. I just do not see the value in micro-transactions. When I buy a game it is almost never full price. I wait until I feel that the price matches the value of the game and then I buy, With these free to play games the items are cheap but I feel like the items in themselves have almost no value to me hence I will not even pay a small amount for them.

That being said, it may end up being a generational thing. Most of us grew up paying for full games, not bits a pieces. I did not like the idea of free to play games with micro-transactions when I first heard of them. I had no reason to immediately dislike them other than that I was used to paying for full games. Similarly, when games used to mainly be on CD's and DVD's, I liked the idea of having an actual physical copy in my hands with the box and all. Over the years I have come to the point where I prefer the digital download. So maybe the micro-transaction model will wear on me and eventually I will come to accept it but at this point I really hope it fails because I much prefer whole, standalone games that are purchased all at once. I fell they are a better value.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

A lot of people I hear don't buy items digitally makes me wonder who out there really does. Diablo 3 as a game feels designed around the idea of selling items then paying and having fun. Rather then bettering your character your looking for that item to make you real money. Micro transactions were interesting, free to play sounds appealing but in the long run all I feel is I get 1/4 a game in which I pay to get 2/4 of it, and the last fourth is just dlc. It's breaking out what games are in my opinion, and I just personally don't like it.

ramonsterns said:

Good Micro-transactions: Aesthetics.

Bad Micro-transactions: Extra money or experience. Unlocking anything gameplay related. Exclusives.

This is true in every case, period. Saying otherwise shows how little you know about game balance.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I agree with most of the above. Personally I've never felt compelled to pay for any game "extras". In the worst of cases I've felt like the game is meant to trick me into buying stuff and that feels annoying and kills the experience. In my opinion the demo model is not broken. Numerous times I've bought games after liking a demo and on similar fashion I've regretted buying games that I've bought on launch day without getting at least a brief hands-on. Another big issue with new games is the entry barrier on titles that sell for $60+.

Chongler said:

Good Micro-transactions: Aesthetics.

Bad Micro-transactions: Extra money or experience. Unlocking anything gameplay related. Exclusives.

This is true in every case, period. Saying otherwise shows how little you know about game balance.

I almost agree with this post, I personally think that if someone can pay to unlock something that they otherwise would have to spend time on -to get the SAME THING- then it should be fine. Useful (Non-Aesthetic) Exclusive items or items that give a paying player an advantage over a non-paying player will do nothing but harm your game as it will eventually divide the paying and non-paying sides to the point that the non-paying players will just quit playing all together. This is bad in that the non-paying side depending on the game of course but for the sake of argument, let's say a 3:1 ratio to those who do pay. You lose the majority of your player base, you will start to see less and less total (including paying) players.

The only real microtransaction model that REALLY works is one where a player can pay for looks or convenience.

Guest said:

I'll buy games and DLC... that's it.

treetops treetops said:

I don't condemn the the practice outright, but I think it's going to be the end of gaming as many of us have known it over the past 20 years. The micro transaction model works from a profit perspective, and I have no issues with publishers & developers making money for their work (regardless of whether I happen to like the end product). However, I dread what's likely to happen to games as a result of P2W, and more importantly Pay for Quality, becoming the norm in the microtransaction world. I've seen what this has done in the CoD and iOS (Infinity Blade) worlds and I'm not looking forward to the same thing happening across the rest of gaming. If the microtransaction model takes hold, I'd expect mainstream gaming to resembled cable television in ten years time: cheap, frustrating, and unimaginative.

I agree with most of what you say but cable tv has brought us some amazing shows like the sorpanos, game of thrones, dexter, south park, the daily show and to a lesser extent walking dead and weeds

Guest said:

QUOTE: "according to Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore, they'll be the norm in as little as five years.."

I kinda don't think any member of EA says is worth a grain of salt tbh.

Coodu Coodu said:

Good Micro-transactions: Aesthetics.

Bad Micro-transactions: Extra money or experience. Unlocking anything gameplay related. Exclusives.

This is true in every case, period. Saying otherwise shows how little you know about game balance.

This is pretty much how I feel about this topic. Valve seem to be doing it quite well with TF2 and DOTA2 now, I must admit I've bought a couple of D2 items as I feel they are priced reasonably. I can't really see the point with TF2 hats but the guns and items aren't too bad. Although, one could argue that with TF2 the items throw off the balance, and having been playing TF2 since its beta, I agree with that sometimes but that's just the purist in me surfacing.

I can't stand P2W but, that just makes me mad as hell. That's not gaming at all, at least the type I grew up with...

Guest said:

I also agree that Microtransactions will lead to the downfall of the standard model, but for the better. There are many games which are "freemium" that I have downloaded and spent more money on via microtransactions that if I had to pay a flat £20-40 fee upfront. For instance, League of Legends would not be anywhere near as big as it is today if it cost £15 to enter it initially, even though a lot of people have ended up spending more than that.

sasrob said:

The free to play makes far more profit!! this is why its going to be the future. first you have players that would give it a go for free they could get hooked on the game plus you can go world wide with out all the cost of disc's/copyright stuff. from the players view people will only play games they like which means only the great games will make it on the FTP model!!! from the games developers view its great as no more one off cost for a game that takes months to complete. If the game is good then you are looking at big profits as the only limiting factor is the cash the player have to spend. I have paid into games I like playing "world of tanks,falling earth,evony" just to name a few. If I enjoy playing a game I will add my support by adding funds to help in game progress. some players say "its not fair on the free playing player" life not fair get over it!! your paying nothing to play a game!!! that part is down to the developers to make it fare. if they don't then game over for a crap game.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

With the release of the UDK 4 engine, which allows a small staff to make a high quality game I think we will see a 2 tier system where you'll have those doing single player games with quality DLC's and the corporate side, AAAA games doing primarily on line play/micro transactions. As a gamer from the the beginning of games I really do not like online play; there is so much cheating and each game is far too easy to exploit , FPS are just run around a shoot using wall hacks and auto aim. games like wow require months of play to get anywhere and frankly I'm not that interested in a game that reduces my life to work and gaming. Starcraft has gamers who short stroke every command required to get enough zerglings to overwhelm any outpost in under 2 min.. Online gaming is going to turn off allot of casual gamers because most of them have lives.. I'll play mechwarior online because I really enjoyed the single player game series.. but I know that within the first week the hyper nerds that got in on the beta and who will be playing 10x what I would ever in the first week will be killing everything in sight that isn't another hyper nerd. So then you'll have cheaters who want to kill the hyper nerds and before you know it you'll have a MW2 steam issue where 90% of the players are cheating just to play for more then 10 sec at a time.

I just played future solider and I'm annoyed that 1/2 the weapon systems can only be used if you unlock them from multi player gaming.. and any DLC is going to be online oriented.. so, that game is going to the bargain bin at gamestop.

fimbles fimbles said:

As a former world of warcraft player I remember people being insulted in the game for purchasing the spectral horse when it was released.

Pay to win will in my opinion be the death of mainstream gaming.

ramonsterns said:

As a former world of warcraft player I remember people being insulted in the game for purchasing the spectral horse when it was released.

Pay to win will in my opinion be the death of mainstream gaming.

There is also such a thing as paying to much for so little, like a transparent reskin of a mount for $25.

Guest said:

If you are young, like teenagers (or maybe a bum) and got all the time need to get your in-game stuff, then do it the long way and save money. But, if you got more important things to do in life than farming for hours and got the money anyways to just pay for what makes you enjoy the game more, just pay for it and save time. In my opinion, time is more valuable than money. At least in my stage of life.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

I am for & against at some points. I play MMOs (how come in the plural !?) ...

I have installed version of Aion / DCUO / Rift & City of Heroes on my PC. I bought most of them way before they went F2P & fortunately like for Aion it opened up more possibilities than a usual limited F2P game.

I never used my official DCUO disc on PS3 (yeah, it's still wrapped since pre-ordered) but download it on PC & PS3 since it went F2P ... I tried to buy Station Cash but for some obscure reasons it failed leaving ot to a total pure F2P game I play once a week when CoH has a server maintenance downtown.

Rift is on trial till level 20 but I have a collector's edition waiting to be redeemed since very long, while Aion is played here & then.

My main issue comes with my preferred MMO, what am-I saying, my favorite game . SInce I bought City of Heroes/Villains, been spending money with addon packs, etc where each were around $10 in the past, still at that time I used to pay the 14$ monthly subscription & each two months would add 1 pack. When it became F2P, City of Heroes Freedom & the in-game paragon market would cost me more ... I just checked today, been through $110 during last 30 days & I still pay the monthly subs to be VIP while I play around 3 hours/day ...I need to go to rehab :S ...

I believe that these micro-transactions are good for the business, as long as it concern MMO games that are truly F2P but shouldn't spoil other types. We as customers are responsible of this, for we would spend money on perks, costume parts & even some weird powers just for the sake of owning or being in advance in some games ... who to blame then ?

I know I'm doing a bad thing, but as long as there will be a market, I may be doomed to remain a recurring customer.

cheers!

Richy2k9 said:

humm half of my post truncated .. & I don't remember what I wrote :S ...

to cut it shot, I've been spending more money (110$ for the past 30 days + 14$ monthly subs) with CoH while I used to pay only the monthly subs & a few packs here & then for 10$ before it wend F2P ...

As long as there will be a market in a game, their will be recurring customers & it's as bad as it's good ... good for the business !

cheers!

Tygerstrike said:

Ive noticed that micro transactions are great for those ppl who have the money and dont have the time to invest in a game. Prime example....I play Rage of Bahamut on my Iphone. Its a kinda early style yugioh type game. You have a stamina bar in which you do quests to earn cards. You can buy the stamina refill item for like 5$. Or you can wait and let it fill up normally. You can also buy "Rare" card packs. Both are items you can earn by waiting. If you dont want to wait, you can spend RL cash. Seems to me that they are trying to cater to the player base more then anything else.

treetops treetops said:

They should offer both when it comes to free to play. They should let you spend some money here and there or buy a permanent package for 30-60$ depending on the game. I made a big ol post about it in a game called wolf team. To fully armor for a month in that game if I remember right it was 20$+ a month, thats not including powerups, backpacks and guns which def give you the edge. You would have one guy in every other game with 5% damage reduction per armor piece and 7 or so armor pieces on wrecking everyone. It was pretty ridiculous. The early model of the game didn't have such crazy prices or unbalance.

That particular game was free to play but I refused to purchase items that would disappear in a few days weeks or months. I suggested they offer a permanent package with nearly everything you need to compete while still allowing a little room for improvement and customization. For a very very low end graphic fps game they charge a ton.

ramonsterns said:

But, if you got more important things to do in life

If you have more important things to do in life etc etc.

Guest said:

In my opinion, microtransactions should not break a game. If they give a blatant advantage for people who pay instead of use non-pay items, the game becomes one sided for people who pay. Games like Combat Arms and other Nexon titles are in that sense broken, though as well, in many countless other ways.

Games, like League of Legends, manage to pull off a successful system, where you can buy skins for characters. These do not supply any bonus in any way, yet are fun to collect. You can also get characters, but it is relatively easy to get them with in game money as well. This balaced system is a good example of how microtransactions should work.

That's is my opinion. Games with MTs have made me jaded, and until they step up their game, I don't plan to play any too soon.

Guest said:

Once it's it gets to the stage where microtransactions are in every single game (well long before we reach that actually) people will stop participating. Just look at what happened with MMORPGs for a while in the 00's. WoW was hugely popular so everyone and their mum started making their own MMO's to cash in too, but the market got oversaturated quickly, people canceled their subscriptions fairly quickly, sales dropped, and now the genre is basically old news, even WoW is in a decline now. Of course, it's still changed the gaming scene as a whole, and elements will remain, but MMO's didn't dominate gaming the way pundits said would happen back in the early 2000's. Same deal for microtransactions and free to play; long term it'll probably have a subtle effect on what possibilities exist in a game, but F2P titles aren't going to dominate of everything else. Already I think the majority of F2P players don't actually buy anything, but the small quantity that do tend to go overboard and compensate enough for everyone else.

ramonsterns said:

You can also get characters, but it is relatively easy to get them with in game money as well. This balaced system is a good example of how microtransactions should work.

6 months+ to get access to the full game is not "relatively easy".

LoL is not a free-to-play game, it's a free-to-unlock game.

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

In my experience the main problem with them are so called 'Wallet Warriors', who manage to get to the top by buying almost every upgrade for their character, without earning it legitimately!

Guest said:

its ok for a free game but a bit unfair as gives people well off with money an unfair advantage over most people

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't think I'd like to see microtrasactions in every game, and I appreciate those Kickstarter games which say that they'll give the complete game to anyone who pays, no DLC, no special editions.

On the other hand, I love "free to play" MMO's. As a casual player I don't feel like subbing, and having a free base game to enjoy with inexpensive upgrade options is a good way for me to play. I paid SOE $35 over the two years since Everquest II Extended came out. If I had to subscribe I'd pay nothing. Same goes for City of Heroes. I don't play much, so the option of playing games and paying just what I feel like are great.

GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

Do too my fiancial issues at this time I have found myself sampling Steam's F2P offerings, I have too say some do it right and others do it wrong. I think releasing a completly free game with at least 40-50 hours of playability for free is a great idea. Like lets take a FPS whats become almost stanrdard is paying for more powerful guns. Why not just have advancement options like what 60 games have and have map packs. The game comes with 8 maps and another 8 maps will cost you $20 total. If u want to play through the hours and hours to level up and get new weapons that's fine but if u really want that gun now being able too drop something as small as $1 on the same weapon that anyone can get for playing is the way too go. As long as the pay to win, ie more powerful guns then what regular no paying players can get, doesn't take hold I am ok with this for FPS's. Even just giving gimmicky things like cool camo and other stuff that would allow people who enjoy the game too help support it would be worth the effort, while letting the game stay completely balanced. I am gonna be working through the rest of the different F2P genres over the next few weeks, but so far I am not pushed away by them, should be nice for this year since I will be low on cash for the next couple months.

Cinders Cinders, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I play EVE. If they transition to F2P or micro-transactions I won't play anymore.

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