With the advent of mobile gaming on smartphones there has come this sales thesis of “give out the game for free, but then charge people to keep playing”. Now whilst for phones this might work with Clash of Clans etc… and does make sense, you know being on the go and fast means you can play for free and easily continue but for consoles it makes no sense. In the eyes of big publishers like EA and Blizzard micro-transactions are seemingly just ways for them to make extra money, and for the player to gain ease of access to things they would have to work for, or just cosmetic items.
On paper this doesn’t sound too bad, want to look cool or get through things quicker? Pay extra, you are afforded that choice. However when a game already asks you to pay for things like season passes it seems dangerous to ask for more. For instance the highly acclaimed Battlefield 1 has been out for some time, and if you purchase it’s season pass you get extra maps, guns, game modes and vehicles. Seems decent, pay more for more stuff… however EA then have the gall to say you can pay extra money for ‘battlepacks’, random loot boxes, or pay to gain class items instantly instead of having to work for it. Now I’ve played battlefield 1 a lot, and feel I have been given (and used in game currency, no money required) and traded for enough battlepacks in relation to play time. This seems to be a way to entice players into paying for what might be seen as gambling. EA as an example show how micro-transactions work on mobile, but not console or PC gaming.
However Blizzard do things slightly differently, for example Overwatch. You buy the game, play it, and for levelling up you get loot boxes, you can also get them for challenges and such. You can also pay for extra of these, however you can’t pay for anything that will make the online experience easier unlike in Battlefield, it’s all cosmetic. So you can be rewarded things to improve your cosmetic experience or pay for the chance to still do so. There is none of this pay-to-win nonsense. On top of all this all of Overwatch’s actual DLC, maps, characters, skins and cosmetic items (only added into random loot box’s) and game modes are all completely free. So they give you all this extra content and then say “if you want to have more random loot box’s you can buy them, but it won’t improve your experience”.
Micro-transactions aren’t all bad, they work on free mobile games, as long as they don’t ask too much of your wallet. They can even be coupled nicely with an abundance of free content, it could be said they fund it. However the problem lies with the pay-to-win idea that some publishers have for their games, as your’e then paying extra to skip the game you paid for and making your advantage not necessarily skill based… but on wallet size.