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