By Adrian Velazquez
I love video games but things like micro-transactions can really make or break a video game for me. Micro-transactions are a business model where users can purchase virtual goods via micro-payments. Microtransactions are often used in free-to-play games to provide a revenue source for the developers. In the past years in the video game industry, microtransactions have been put into so many games because of its money-making potential for video game companies. For a free-to-play game, it would make sense that it would microtransactions because that is the only way the company will make any money off of that game.
To me, I hate these pay-to-win microtransactions because it just gives an unfair advantage to players who spend money than actually take the time and actually put in the work like everyone else would. Not all microtransactions are bad considering some companies only have cosmetic items in them for people to show off to make them look cool, but pay-to-win microtransactions are terrible.
Microtransactions can either improve a game’s reputation or ruin it completely. For example, EA Dice’s Stars Wars Battlefront 2, which recently came out about two weeks ago has had a major backlash on the game’s reputation because of its loot crate system. During and after the beta, players quickly realized how bad this loot crate system can get because it can lead to people spending a lot of money into getting items that are better than weapons in the game. This gives an unfair advantage over players who actually take the time to really grind and work to get those items in the game. Due to the backlash, the company had to disable the ability to buy the loot crates but only temporary till they fix some of the mechanics in the game.
Despite doing this, however, the fans were still not happy with the video game company deciding to put this in the game in the first place and the video games’ reputation got worse and worse. I was actually happy to hear they did remove the ability to buy the loot crates with actual money but I still was not happy that the company actually thought this was a good idea because it was an attempt to make a quick buck but fortunately it failed for them badly. Its reputation suffered and I doubt it will get any better till they remove the loot crate system completely.
Microtransactions can be looked at as a source of gambling. Due to the loot crates being programmed to have this randomness to what items you may get from it, there is no guarantee that you will get the item that you want. This will cause players to spend a lot of money in order to get the items they want and due to the randomness of the loot crates, the amount they spend relies on their luck. They could spend $10 or $1000 to get the item that they want. This system basically allows kids to spend huge amounts of money in order to get an item and they will continue to spend that money till they get the item they want. Its influences gambling and I hate that because I should not need to spend any more money then I have for just buying the game.
Now while microtransactions can make a video game go from bad to worse, there are some good benefits to it. Gamers do hate microtransactions but they do serve a purpose in video games sometimes if done correctly. Overwatch, for example, has a loot box system implemented in its game but it only has cosmetic items that player can put on their character to make it look cool and stand out. The difference that Overwatch has with its loot box system is that the loot crates do not affect the gameplay whatsoever. The items you get from the loot crates are only cosmetics (skins) for the characters which actually makes the gameplay have a more positive experience with all of the unique skins.
Now, this system isn’t perfect by any means because the loot boxes still have the randomness to it which will cause players to spend more to get specify skins, but the skins don’t affect the gameplay whatsoever. Its only cosmetics and you can still play the game just like anyone else. I have the game and I don’t see the loot boxes being a huge problem in this game because it is only cosmetics and nothing else. I still have fun playing the game just the way is it regardless if I have some legendary skin or not. The skins don’t affect the way I play.
I must stress that gamers are not entirely wrong about microtransactions being in video games. Microtransactions, if done correctly, can really improve a video game’s reputation and have a positive outcome from it. But a lot of the times there are often done very poorly because the developers only focus on making money rather than actually visualizing the all of the possible outcomes that can occur if they do decide to put microtransactions in their game and what items it will bring to the table. This causes the video game to quickly descend in its sales and the company will not make a lot of money.
But gamers should actually appreciate microtransactions because it is able to keep some old games alive to this day such as Battlefield Four which was released about four years ago. There are not a lot of old games that are still highly active after one year, but I recently bought Battlefield Four to try it out and it still was active. It has a loot crate system (in the form of battle packs) to it that has cosmetics and different attachments for weapons. But those attachments do not necessarily give the players an unfair advantage because people still have to actually play and learn how to use their weapons properly. You can still earn these battle packs by playing the game leveling up and actually learning how to play properly.
I personally do not have any problems with microtransactions as long as it just has cosmetics. If a game has microtransactions that looks and sounds like pay-to-win then that is when it starts actually frustrate me. It just becomes an addiction for people to spend loads of money in order for them to have an unfair advantage over everyone simply because they don’t want to spend time actually learning how to play. I think it is wrong for companies to put pay-to-win microtransactions only to make money. Decisions like that can not only damage the game’s reputation but also the company’s reputation and the video games industry. Microtransactions are popular now and it has affected the video game industry in a negative way.