The fu­ture of mi­cro­trans­ac­tions looks brighter than ever with the enor­mous shift in pub­lish­ers’ per­spec­tives

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With the re­cent

news that Mid­dle Earth: Shadow Of

War will be pulling mi­cro­trans­ac­tions from the game in their en­tirety, and Star Wars Bat­tle­front II dras­ti­cally chang­ing their stance, Team OXM de­cides to weigh in to dis­cuss. Daniella: I’m so happy to see loot boxes re­moved in Shadow Of War and how they’ve changed in SWBFII, though at the same time I also think them be­ing ter­ri­ble in the first place needed to hap­pen. Stephen: SWBFII def­i­nitely took most of the flak at the time, but the real prob­lem was lock­ing ac­tual game­play items be­hind the pay­wall. Yes, you can play to un­lock them as well, but that was a huge grind and if play­ers can grab the coolest stuff right from the start with a credit card that’s not right. War­ren: I played a ton of SWBFII at launch and wit­nessed play­ers who picked up the Elite Trooper Deluxe Edi­tion get an in­stant head start over ev­ery­one else. I’d like to see pay­ing up­front for loot crate con­tent dis­ap­pear frankly. It was even be­ing sold with the tag line “dom­i­nate the bat­tle­front” and it was in­stantly ap­par­ent that play­ers with deep pock­ets, were! Adam: We’re fi­nally see­ing the re­sults of in­clud­ing mi­cro­trans­ac­tions the wrong way. If it wasn’t for SWBFII push­ing it too far and con­sumers re­act­ing as ex­pected, this may not be the case. So in a weird way, we’ve

got EA to thank for it. I also think this bodes well for An­them. Daniella: Though it does still feel like FIFA play­ers get the short end of the stick. Maybe we still need to fight back more! Stephen: FIFA def­i­nitely suf­fers from the prob­lem. It’s the same with GTA On­line. You can buy mil­lions of in-game dol­lars for a few pounds, then go buy a tank and blow up ev­ery­one in your play ses­sion. That seems un­fair, but no­body re­ally com­plains! Adam: There are quite a few games that do it right, though. Games like Fort­nite, Over­watch, Ti­tan­fall 2 (which is an EA game, re­mem­ber) and PUBG all have in-game pur­chases that have ab­so­lutely zero im­pact on game­play. Peo­ple just want cool, cos­metic stuff. War­ren: Per­son­ally I’d be per­fectly happy with a set of unique char­ac­ter skins or be­spoke ve­hic­u­lar paint-jobs. Why up­set the ma­jor­ity of a game’s player base just to ben­e­fit the few who en­able a quick cash in? The long-term dam­age to a pub­lisher’s rep­u­ta­tion just isn’t worth it. Stephen: We’ve been say­ing it for a long time, but if loot­boxes are purely cos­metic, they can be great.

“I’d like to see pay­ing up­front for loot crate con­tent dis­ap­pear”

That’s the di­rec­tion that SWBFII has pushed in now, and it’s def­i­nitely an im­prove­ment. Daniella: I quite like what Sea Of Thieves have done with their limited edi­tion con­troller – you buy a phys­i­cal item tied to the game and get bonus stuff in-game too. War­ren: As if I wasn’t tempted to buy that Sea Of Thieves pad al­ready. I’m a sucker for merch. Daniella: I also like that that ap­proach leaves you with a me­mento even af­ter an on­line game has closed down years into the fu­ture – you’ll still have a piece of it. I’d love to see real-life Fort­nite piñatas with a lit­tle out­fit code tucked in­side. Adam: Again there needs to be a bal­ance with that too. I re­mem­ber in the Xbox 360 days they would of­fer avatar items when buy­ing con­trollers. But that’s not too dif­fer­ent than pro­vid­ing ex­tra DLC for dif­fer­ent edi­tions of a game. As Ubisoft have been known for. War­ren: I like the idea of ex­clu­sive tie-in con­tent, just so long as those who can’t af­ford, or sim­ply don’t fancy a themed con­troller, still get a chance to pay for the same con­tent, even if its avail­abil­ity is de­layed by a few months. Stephen: I sup­pose it de­pends what you want – if you think about it as a ‘bonus’ to buy­ing the con­troller it’s fine. If you specif­i­cally want the item maybe there should be an­other way to buy it… such as an in-game pur­chase! Guys, I think we have just solved it. Adam: Things are made even more com­pli­cated by the fact that ev­ery­one has their own lim­its at to what’s ac­cept­able to buy. I think in the grand scheme of things, ev­ery­thing needs to be trans­par­ent if peo­ple are look­ing to get more money out of con­sumers. Hav­ing to de­tail the odds of suc­cess helps, but it doesn’t get rid of the idea that the only rea­son there are odds to get cer­tain items in the first place is to con­vince you to pay more.

Left Is this the be­gin­ning of the end for mi­cro­trans­ac­tions? Maybe not, but we’re more op­ti­mistic than ever.

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