Electronic Arts, probably one of the most reviled publishers amongst mainstream gaming fans as it is, recently dug itself an even deeper pit of fan revulsion when it announced more future EA titles would contain microtransactions.
Microtransactions are, for the most part, the nickel-and-dime scourge of the gaming industry as we know it, forcing gamers to pay additional fees for items or services within games they’ve already paid for and should have access to in their entirety. While microtransactions are justifiable in the mobile gaming space, where games are often given away for free or nearly free, there’s little excuse for adding them in games the gamer has paid a sizable sum for, as EA already did with their console shooter Dead Space 3.
However, if you thought it was just greedy EA jumping on the microtransaction bandwagon, you’d be wrong. Activision announced earlier this week that Black Ops 2 will also include microtransactions. While CoD’s publisher Activision isn’t much higher on the gaming industry integrity ladder than EA, if at all, what this does is signal an undeniable industry shift towards DLC and microtransactions, and also raises the question of when, probably not if, we’ll see microtransactions appear in GTA games.
On the one hand, imagine the horror of having to pay real money to fuel up your ride, or to buy bullets to load your favorite gun up with. It would sure take some of the joy out of pumping innocent virtual bystanders full of lead when that lead is costing you a pretty (or dull) penny with each flash of the in-game muzzle. Granted, microtransactions would never ‘force’ you to have to pay real money for something integral to the game. But perhaps bullets would become just a little bit scarcer so as to increase the sales of them through microtransactions. This would, I think, prove to be a major detractor and outright abomination.
Also, a task should not be harder to accomplish than it would otherwise simply because a microtransaction is now in place that the company is trying to sell. In the case outlined above, the microtransaction has undeniably had a negative effect on the game and ruined, at least to some extent, the experience of the game for people that have already paid their money, and who don’t wish to plunk down more cash on it.
If, however, the content is truly optional and the game is being built as normal (and not around the microtransactions) then there could be a place for it in limited cases. Gamers will certainly still decry that those willing to spend more money have an easier or more enjoyable time with the game than themselves. But on the other hand if their own experience hasn’t been impacted by the inclusion of microtransactions, then there’s really no reason to get overly up in arms about it. We gamers are infamous for our whining though…!
For their part, Rockstar has not made any announcement regarding microtransactions in GTA V, though they have said they would consider it in future titles. Meanwhile, publisher Take-Two Interactive has already released games with microtransactions present, including in NBA 2K13.