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?