It appears micro-transactions -- those enticing in-game unlocks and premium items that typically cost a litte extra cash -- will possibly make their way into every Electronic Arts game in the not-so-distant future. EA says it plans to add in-game purchases to all platforms, including PC, mobile and console games.
"We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way," EA CFO Blake Jorgensen stated during an investor conference. "either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business."
Additionally, EA has built its own micro-transaction back-end. In the past, EA has outsourced its in-game purchase operations to third-party companies; however, the game publisher is now taking ownership of its micro-transaction business. By moving the operation in-house, EA presumes it can maximize profits from future pint-sized puchases -- a business which generates far more than pint-sized profits.
Jorgenson told investors that "The Simpsons", for example -- a game that is free to play -- racked up about $25 million in micro-purchases during Q4 2012.
Dead Space 3 is a prime example of a AAA game title featuring micro-transactions. EA's inclusion of in-game purchases wasn't without criticism though, sparking debates over the potential for conflicts of interest (e.g. placing "brick walls" to lure gamers into paying to surmount near-impossible scenarios) and the integrity of a company who releases a $60 title with the foregone conclusion of gamers spending even more. And, If you'll excuse the pedantry, there's also the philosophical matter of a $50 DLC pack being considered a "micro" transaction.
In its Dead Space 3 review, Eurogamer reviewer Dan Whitehead had this to say about micro-transactions: "It's not about crudely forcing the player to spend extra with brick wall obstacles, but a more subtle psychological invitation, leaving the option out in the open, like a box of chocolates tantalisingly within reach". Whitehead continued, "I managed to complete the game without spending any extra and never felt like I'd been held back, but by the same token there were plenty of moments where I fell just short of what was needed."
"It's easy to see how the temptation would be hard to resist, especially when certain resources are conspicuously less common than others." he added.
How do you feel about microtransactions becoming a mandatory feature in EA's upcoming games?