Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mobile, MOBAs, and Microtransactions

     I believe we (as gamers) have stepped into a new generation of gaming, or at least something similar to one. The mobile gaming environment may have inherently bred the microtransactions, and MOBAs have brought it to the more hardcore gamers. While mobile gaming is nickel and diming players, the MOBA aspect is purely aesthetic purchases. Regardless the way these games are utilizing microtransactions, it still isn't justifiable in my eyes.

     The mobile gaming microtransactions, while bad, aren't the worst form of them; devs put out games for free and need some way to monetize it. They basically play off peoples' impatience by saying "hey this is going to take 4 hours unless you give us a measly little $.99" and boom, you've spent money on a free game, their exact intent. This, to me, isn't the most effective way to make consistent money, but there are the "whales" that will pour a lot of money into the games like Age of War or Angry Birds 2.

     MOBAs, I think, brought microtransactions to bigger, more serious games. We see this in DOTA2, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, LoL, and the like. Throughout these games, you can purchase skins, characters, and mounts. Some you can purchase with in-game currency, and things like skins and mounts are usually purchased with real money; some Heroes of the Storm characters are outrageously expensive at around $10. All MOBAs share a similar economy with each other, selling cosmetic items for real money, and other things for in-game currency. Regardless how harmless the cosmetic items may be to some people, others fall into the "haves and have-nots", which is basically jealousy; you see someone who looks really cool, and you want to look like them, so you buy the skin that they have. Small collectibles like DOTA2 hats are another way devs take advantage of the microtransaction system, and it plays on people wanting to get all of the collectibles (like Trophies or Achievements).

     The worst of these microtransactions are when a game charges the full $60 and still wants to nickel and dime you all the way through with them. Games like Assassins Creed Unity, Mortal Kombat X, Dead Space 3, GTA Online, and the newest offender, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. Games like this - cleverly dubbed "Fee to Pay" by Jim Sterling - are really not okay, the devs say the purchases are optional, but no games have microtransactions because they don't want you to buy them, they're based off impatience, wanting to have everything, or just thinking something looks cool.

     These 3 things have started a new trend in gaming, and hopefully these things get better, or just go away entirely, though, in my opinion, some of these microtransactions are harmless cosmetic things.

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