Mi­cro­trans­ac­tions the War­frame way

GAX (Malaysia) - - COLUMN - By Ian Chee

As we have seen from the likes of Mid­dleearth: Shadow of War and Star Wars Bat­tle­front II, there are many ways to im­ple­ment mi­cro­trans­ac­tions the wrong way. Each best ex­em­pli­fies a dis­tinct way of get­ting mi­cro­trans­ac­tions wrong – one for mak­ing game­play so grindy and te­dious that pay­ing to not play seemed like an at­trac­tive op­tion, the other for go­ing the Pay-to-Win route. The lat­ter did tweak the im­ple­men­ta­tion so that it’s less Pay-to-Win, but it nev­er­the­less re­mains so be­cause Epic Star Cards are now part of the Deluxe Edi­tion, in­stead of loot boxes. But I di­gress. There is one wrong that these two games have in com­mon though, and that is hav­ing mi­cro­trans­ac­tions in a US$60 re­tail game (ap­prox. RM250) that has its own DLCs, sea­son passes, and all that jazz.

So with all that said, is there a game that does mi­cro­trans­ac­tions prop­erly? Fun­nily, there are a few, and it’s un­sur­pris­ing that few have heard of them. But I’d just like to point out one that’s close to my heart, one that’s just gained the gam­ing pub­lic’s at­ten­tion ever since a heavy mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise for its lat­est ex­pan­sion. I’m, of course, talk­ing about War­frame.

Now, I haven’t been play­ing War­frame con­sis­tently, but I was there when it was still fairly new (a few months af­ter it en­tered pub­lic beta in early 2013). The story of its growth through­out these four years is a tale too long to be told in a sin­gle page. But through that jour­ney, I’d like to high­light the way the game has han­dled mi­cro­trans­ac­tions, and why its cur­rent state is the best im­ple­men­ta­tion so far.

To start, War­frame is a Free-to-Play – al­beit also a per­pet­ual pub­lic beta – game. The tit­u­lar War­frames are suits of ar­mor that grant frame-spe­cific pow­ers to help you progress in the game. The game starts you off with some pre­mium cur­rency called Plat­inum, and a few in­ven­tory slots for more weapons and frames, but even with the free Plat­inum, you could only have a max­i­mum of three frames at a time, at least back then.

By the time I’ve got­ten to the point where that mat­ters, I had to make one of three choices. One, I fork out money, as if my ex­pe­ri­ence thus far was sim­ply a demo. The other is gimp my­self by get­ting rid of frames that I cur­rently own to make space for newer ones, lim­it­ing my op­tions for when I face new chal­lenges. The fi­nal op­tion is, of course, to just quit and look for some­thing new to kill time with. For a freemium game, I thought it was pretty fair.

The first op­tion wasn’t that hard a de­ci­sion to make ei­ther, since you can get up to 75 per­cent off Plat­inum prices for 48 hours as daily lo­gin re­wards. With the dis­count, RM50 – about the price for your av­er­age game on sale – gets you enough Plat­inum to play com­fort­ably if you skip all the cos­met­ics. For the full RM250 re­tail price, you could be as whim­si­cal as you want. And there’s no loot box non­sense here ei­ther – what you see is what you get, hon­est and sim­ple. Trad­ing was added some­time down the line. Now you don’t ever need to buy Plat­inum us­ing real money. You can just trade them with some­one who has done that, for some­thing that they want. These trades usu­ally in­volve com­po­nents for Prime weapons and frames.

So is the mi­cro­trans­ac­tion sys­tem found in War­frame the right way to do it? While I won’t say so for sure, one thing I’m cer­tain of is that it’s def­i­nitely not the wrong way to do it. There’s no Pay-to-Win, there are no loot boxes, and with trad­ing, mi­cro­trans­ac­tions in War­frame are the dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tion of op­tional. More so than any re­tail, AAA game that still hold your mind at ran­som. And all this, achieved by a Free-to-Play game that pushes out mas­sive up­dates for free.

And on that ironic bomb­shell, adieu to y’all.

So with all that said, is there a game that does mi­cro­trans­ac­tions prop­erly? Fun­nily, there are a few, and it’s un­sur­pris­ing that few have heard of them.

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