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Microtransactions

Poll Results: Opinion on microtransactions

 
  • 6% (1)
    Yay
  • 81% (13)
    Nay
  • 12% (2)
    Neutral
16 Total Votes  
post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

I'm not a gamer anymore, stopped playing probably 20 years ago.  But I still follow gaming sometimes because I like technology and keeping track of how it evolves.

 

But I'm now hearing about this microtransaction thing that is creating controversy.  I'm wondering what people think of it, and if it will have some kind of lasting effect on gaming (negative or positive).

 

I'm also interested in hearing some examples of microtransactions in games and how it works.

post #2 of 34
There's a recent thread that is generally about this.

Let me find it for you.

http://www.chud.com/community/t/159637/wtf-is-the-latest-gaming-outrage-about
post #3 of 34

FWIW, we've been talking about them a lot here: http://www.chud.com/community/t/159637/wtf-is-the-latest-gaming-outrage-about

 

Microtransactions are just what they sound like. Games charging smaller prices for exclusive items to be used in the game. Sometimes these items are purely cosmetic, like character or weapon skins. Sometimes they're weapons or abilities that have an actual, tangible effect on the game.

 

Originally, these were devised as a way for ostensibly Free-To-Play games, which don't charge you anything to actually play, to generate some kind of income. League of Legends as an example, a rather popular game with millions of players worldwide, allows you to purchase different characters to use in the game in such a way. But you are given a starting character to use so you can play the game without paying a cent. This has generally been accepted as not too bad. The game is free and you can't expect the devs not to eat or do server upkeep with no income. Mobile Games like Candy Crush or Clash of Clans have been very guilty of milking these types of systems for all they can, and there have been stories of people literally spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these cheap but addictive games. 

 

Recently however, and this is where the controversy is coming from, Full Price games by AAA Studios have been wanting a slice of that pie. So they've been inserting these Microtransactions more and more into games that just a few years ago didn't have to deal with this bullshit. The one that kind of started this whole problem in earnest was Blizzard's Overwatch. The game, $60 on Consoles or $40 on PC, had what are commonly referred to as Loot Boxes. Loot Boxes are essentially Lucky Packets filled with random cosmetic things like skins, voice lines or emotes of differing rarity to be used in the game. What you got all depended on the luck of the draw. Now, you can earn these Loot Boxes by just playing the game and earning levels or doing challenges. OR, you can buy collections of them and hope that you get that one skin you really want. They also frequently do Seasonal or Event skins 'n stuff only available at certain periods, like the Halloween Event currently going on, to tempt you to buy those Loot Boxes. Since the items in Overwatch are PURELY cosmetic changes and have no bearing on the actual gameplay, people generally accepted this. Although there were and are quite a few voices critical of the system.

 

The BIG problem though...has been that NOW Full Price $60 games are putting said items that have an ACTUAL effect on the game into these Microtransaction Loot Boxes. Battlefront 2, the new Star Wars Multiplayer game and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War are the two big, recent guilty parties. The Loot Boxes in Battlefront 2 especially, contain some pretty powerful items. So, in theory, someone who spends an extra $100 on these Loot Boxes and gets these powerful items, will have a noticeable advantage over other players who do not while playing. Essentially making the games Pay-to-Win and not very fair or enjoyable for someone who DOESN'T want to spend hundreds of bucks just to play a game they enjoy and not get stomped while doing so. Middle Earth: Shadow of War actually blocks players from getting the game's true ending by putting it behind a Loot Box paywall. 

 

As you can guess, I and many others are not happy with these recent trends. It's blatantly predatory of these corporations trying to bleed us for every cent they can get. Hardly surprising and we should have seen the warning signs, but it's here now. And I fear it is here to stay cause they wouldn't be using these systems if they weren't crazy effective at making money. FWIW, I do not support them at ALL and encourage everyone else not to do so as well. Might be an impotent gesture, but I have my standards. 

post #4 of 34
More of a change in the market than a change in technology, but there's been a very real progression from selling selling epilogues and sequels, to simply putting incomplete games on the market and nickling and diming players who want the complete product.

All of this is a separate issue from aftermarket moneymaking ideas like selling extra costumes and other cosmetic doodads that don't affect gameplay.

The thread that Nooj linked, and the articles linked there in turn, are good places to go to get caught up.

Another issue is the introduction of lockboxes with randomized goods inside, which players have to pay to open. Somehow governments are ruling that these aren't in defiance of online gambling laws, which I find inexplicable and embarrassing.

The lockbox issue has been heating up lately. Some recommendable recent articles on it are below.

Massively Overpowered, October 2nd: This is how MMO lockboxes manipulate your mind

Massviely Overpowered, October 11th: But seriously, lockboxes suck, even if the ESRB doesn’t think they’re gambling. Stop buying lockboxes.

Massively Overpowered, October 18th: UK lockbox gambling regulation petition receives baffling government response
post #5 of 34
Gone Home should have had lootboxes. They could have sold various Christmas Duck skins or included new music throughout the house. Or collectable SNES cartridges.

Firewatch definitely could have used lootboxes. Then maybe you could choose a less abrupt ending. Or an actual survivor mode where you actually do some Firewatching. Fuck the mystery shit and lame flirting from that grandma on the next mountain - I came to watch fires, let me watch some fucking fires, with full loot box survivor gear air drops.

Time to go balls deep: Tetris should be completely built around lootboxes. Where it links to your paypal account, and if you want the next block to drop it'll cost you 2 cents. Pay 4 cents for a guaranteed 4x1 line. Boom, fucking profit.
post #6 of 34

 eta - apologies, wrong thread.


Edited by The Rain Dog - 10/18/17 at 2:22pm
post #7 of 34

The most common microtransactions I've run into are of the "Sorry, can't do any more of that action today, why not buy some more?" or "That upgrade will take 63 hours to complete unless you want to pay to complete it now" variety.  Basically, make your game enough of a nuisance to play that people will pay for it not to be.

post #8 of 34

That sounds like a tablet / phone / facebook game. Those kind of ploys to get you to part with your money are quite common on those. 

post #9 of 34

I sort of side with Jeff Gertsmann from Giant Bomb: if you're willing to put hours into a game,then it's not a problem to purchase loot.

 

It becomes an issue when you have "whales" (the type of consumer that publishers love: too much income and willing to spend it all on content) dropping hundreds of dollars on loot boxes so they can get the best gear/outfit. They are dictating how games are made; It's why Final Fantasy XV, a game I already despise, is getting a multiplayer add-on.

 

Because making games are getting so fucking ridiculous, that the only way to make a profit seems to be constantly finding ways to charge players for content.

 

 

Basically PC/Switch combo seems to be the way to go if you still care about single-player games.

post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ska Oreo View Post
 

Basically PC/Switch combo seems to be the way to go if you still care about single-player games.

 

Let's not knock Sony and the PS4 though. They're consistently putting out pretty great single player games with no Microtransaction bullshit. 

 

Horizon, Uncharted, Last of Us, God of War, Persona 5, Bloodborne, Nioh, Infamous to name a few. 

post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ska Oreo View Post

 

Because making games are getting so fucking ridiculous, that the only way to make a profit seems to be constantly finding ways to charge players for content.

 

Is this really true though, or is it something they say to justify doing it?  Do they really not profit from just game sales?  I find that hard to believe.

post #12 of 34
I like Jim Sterling’s “This almost resembles a finished product! I LOVE finished products!”
post #13 of 34
Thread Starter 

I imagine Star Citizen has to the worst offender of microtransactions at this point?

post #14 of 34
NBA2k18 seems to have set the bar.

You simply can’t be competitive in the game unless you pay them more money.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

 

Is this really true though, or is it something they say to justify doing it?  Do they really not profit from just game sales?  I find that hard to believe.


If you can stand youtube personalities, Jim Sterling has been at the front lines of all this for awhile, making numerous youtube vids on how shitty the game industry can be.

 

post #16 of 34
Thread Starter 

So lootboxes is basically a form of gambling?  The game industry has somehow managed to stoop to the level of a casino?  Jesus.

post #17 of 34

I can't wait until the movie industry starts getting jealous of how easily the gaming industry is ripping off its customers.

 

"Come and see Avengers 3: Revenge Of Squirrel-Girl. If you want the version with Captain America and Iron Man in, pay an extra $10 for the deluxe showing!

 

Oh, and why not go to our website and buy one of our Avengers loot boxes. If you open a loot box with Spider-Man in, we'll invite you to an exclusive showing of the entire movie which not only includes the Captain America and Iron Man scenes but also the exclusive Spidey's subplot too!

 

 

 

Don't miss out! PAY TODAY OR THIS CONTENT WILL BE BLOCKED TO YOU!"

post #18 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post
 

I can't wait until the movie industry starts getting jealous of how easily the gaming industry is ripping off its customers.

 

"Come and see Avengers 3: Revenge Of Squirrel-Girl. If you want the version with Captain America and Iron Man in, pay an extra $10 for the deluxe showing!

 

Oh, and why not go to our website and buy one of our Avengers loot boxes. If you open a loot box with Spider-Man in, we'll invite you to an exclusive showing of the entire movie which not only includes the Captain America and Iron Man scenes but also the exclusive Spidey's subplot too!

 

 

 

Don't miss out! PAY TODAY OR THIS CONTENT WILL BE BLOCKED TO YOU!"

 

Sadly, the movie industry is so desperate and greedy at this point, I imagine this isn't out of the realm of possibility.  

post #19 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

So lootboxes is basically a form of gambling?  

 

ESRB says "No".

post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post
 

 

Is this really true though, or is it something they say to justify doing it?  Do they really not profit from just game sales?  I find that hard to believe.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/10/31/why-have-video-game-budgets-skyrocketed-in-recent-years/#7afcfed93ea5

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post
 

I can't wait until the movie industry starts getting jealous of how easily the gaming industry is ripping off its customers.

 

"Come and see Avengers 3: Revenge Of Squirrel-Girl. If you want the version with Captain America and Iron Man in, pay an extra $10 for the deluxe showing!

 

Oh, and why not go to our website and buy one of our Avengers loot boxes. If you open a loot box with Spider-Man in, we'll invite you to an exclusive showing of the entire movie which not only includes the Captain America and Iron Man scenes but also the exclusive Spidey's subplot too!

 

 

 

Don't miss out! PAY TODAY OR THIS CONTENT WILL BE BLOCKED TO YOU!"

Jesus this is fucking disgusting.

post #21 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post

 

ESRB says "No".

 

People in the comments section don't seem to understand what gambling means.  Gambling means there is a possibility you don't get what you want, not necessarily that you will lose money.  If you crack open a loot box and don't like anything inside, and keep cracking open loot boxes to find what you want, you have been gambling.  You are still losing money with no promise of getting what you want.  That is what gambling is.

post #22 of 34
So where does that put something like booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards?
post #23 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
"The player is basically working for reward by making a series of responses, but the rewards are delivered unpredictably," Dr. Luke Clark, director at the Center for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia, told PC Gamer recently. "We know that the dopamine system, which is targeted by drugs of abuse, is also very interested in unpredictable rewards. Dopamine cells are most active when there is maximum uncertainty, and the dopamine system responds more to an uncertain reward than the same reward delivered on a predictable basis."

Psychologists call this "variable rate reinforcement." Essentially, the brain kicks into high gear when you're opening a loot box or pulling the lever on a slot machine or opening a Christmas present because the outcome is uncertain. This is exciting and, for many people, addictive.

 

"The fact that [Star Wars] Battlefront II is going to be Teen rated and yet has an in-game real money gambling system blows my mind. How are they possibly getting away with that? Well, the answer is that the US government and legislation hasn't caught up with it yet."

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/10/12/the-esrb-is-wrong-about-loot-boxes-and-gambling/#5e0410452a64

post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amos Orange View Post

So where does that put something like booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards?

 

Total Biscuit goes into this on his video. 

 

 

Basically, booster packs in Magic don't count cause by how the packs are packaged, you're always guaranteed something of value. And through secondary trading it would be entirely possible to use the cards you have to get the cards you want. Games like Battlefront 2 or NBA2k18 don't have anything close to such a system. 

post #25 of 34
Thread Starter 

 

Interesting, but I tend to believe the games industry is not that different from Hollywood.  People always have their reasons to overspend.  Movie budgets skyrocketed because there is a focus on having 2 or 3 people for every single job, gargantuan salaries, and there is way too much focus on visual FX.  If players suddenly stopped doing microtransactions tomorrow, would the games industry go bust?  No.  They'd start slashing budgets to make up for it.  Do you really need to spend $200M to make a great game?

post #26 of 34
It's a vicious cycle: developers spend more to produce more visually elaborate games to please the AAA-game-buying public, who pay for it because they like flash and dazzle and anyway they have to justify the money they dropped on their newest hardware somehow. But in feeding that appetite, they only raise the bar even higher for next year's big title that all the PS5 Super Plus Ultra HD Extreme Edition owners want to piss themselves over - and with a dozen-plus major AAA developers in the market competing for those gamers' attention and wallets, that gets exacerbated even further. And they daren't scale back, because they'd risk losing that audience to the next guy down the list who is willing to feed them shiny multi-zillion-dollar eye candy, but they can't rely on the indie gaming audience because they managed and risk-minimized themselves out of being able to provide anything those people want years ago.

But anyway: fuck microtransactions. If I'm paying $50+ for a videogame, I goddamn well expect to get the entire fucking thing.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post
 

I can't wait until the movie industry starts getting jealous of how easily the gaming industry is ripping off its customers.

 

"Come and see Avengers 3: Revenge Of Squirrel-Girl. If you want the version with Captain America and Iron Man in, pay an extra $10 for the deluxe showing!

 

Oh, and why not go to our website and buy one of our Avengers loot boxes. If you open a loot box with Spider-Man in, we'll invite you to an exclusive showing of the entire movie which not only includes the Captain America and Iron Man scenes but also the exclusive Spidey's subplot too!

 

 

 

Don't miss out! PAY TODAY OR THIS CONTENT WILL BE BLOCKED TO YOU!"

 

It's called a Director's Cut.

post #28 of 34
it's called 'multiple bites at the apple'

http://m.ign.com/articles/2004/04/21/miramaxs-money-squeeze
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by avian View Post
 

 

It's called a Director's Cut.

 

A director's cut isn't at all comparable to what's going on with video games. The director isn't told to shoot entire storylines that will be cut out later just for the purpose of selling them to the gullible public under the threat that they're missing out on the complete movie if they don't pay for that version. Furthermore, I don't recall a director's cut ever being released on an opening weekend at the same time as a non-director's cut version, just so the studio can make you feel like your version is inferior by paying less.

 

The movie industry may be greedy but they're not yet videogame industry greedy.

post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post

A director's cut isn't at all comparable to what's going on with video games. The director isn't told to shoot entire storylines that will be cut out later just for the purpose of selling them to the gullible public under the threat that they're missing out on the complete movie if they don't pay for that version. Furthermore, I don't recall a director's cut ever being released on an opening weekend at the same time as a non-director's cut version, just so the studio can make you feel like your version is inferior by paying less.

The movie industry may be greedy but they're not yet videogame industry greedy.
Agreed. Directors cuts are more akin to the Special/Game of the Year editions of games that package the previously released DLC onto a disc.
post #31 of 34

I was "accused", jokingly, last night of being part of the problem because of the amount of money I have spent on Overwatch lootboxes for skins. My defense was as such:

 

Outside of Nintendo and Nintendo Power from the ages of 10-14/15 my first introduction in gaming to hanging on every word a developer says was Bungie and Destiny 1. I liken their treatment of their player base to JJ Abrams and his mystery box bullshit. DeeJ and Cozmo did(do) a lot of hiding and obfuscating what people wanted to know behind vaguery's that always promised more information at a later date. It was always incredibly frustrating and more often than not when their plans were finally revealed it was anti-climactic and completely unnecessary that what was withheld was done so in the manner that it was done. Combine that with the repetitive nature of the game and I turned very hard on Bungie at the end. When D1 introduced Silver, their in-game currency purchased with real money, I spent like $20 or something and bought a few emotes because I still believed they could right the ship they were slowly crashing. Nothing they offered for sale after a few culturally current emotes made we want to give them more money.

 

I paid $60 for D1. Another $30 or whatever for the first two DLC's. I paid whatever it cost for The Taken King, $40 IIRC, and the aforementioned $20 in Silver. I did not pay for Rise of Iron as I had lost faith in the developer to deliver a continuing satisfation for my investment. Let's call it $150 all total for the game. I purchased no less than four PS4 in order for myself and family to play Destiny. I upgraded a TV for Destiny. Let's call that $1200 in consoles/controllers and another $1500 in a TV. If you were to look at the time I played the game, it appears I spent 43d 12h 57m 0s, over 1050 hours of playtime. If I average it out I believe that comes out to $2.66/hour of enjoyment. I believe that was money well spent.

 

The next developer that entranced me with their game was Blizzard and Overwatch. Much like D1 I became a disciple and told everyone I could to come play what I felt was a masterpiece game. Even with fatigue setting in I still believe Overwatch is a special thing. The way Jeff Kaplan interacts with his player base is night and day from DeeJ and Cozmo. He is actually likable instead of punchable and he actually gives information out in doses that satiate. Outside of an arguably botched Sombra reveal every character, map and mode reveal have been handled with aplomb. I believe in Overwatch's lore and design and world-building so very much. There is so much they did right and very, very little that I feel they have done wrong. The game is fun to play and my biggest gripe is a lack of new maps in a more timely fashion.

 

I paid $60 for Overwatch. I have spent almost $200 on loot boxes on what appears to have been 10 different occasions. I believe I have 262 hours into the game total which seems low in my opinion. So roughly $1 per hour of game play. I would call that money extremely well spent for the amount of enjoyment playing OW by myself and with friends has brought me. Strictly from a economic perspective I cannot find anything that rivals my ROI on the happiness I have gotten, in either case. I normally also play through the entirety of the event trying to unlock everything via leveling and only buy boxes at the end to try and get the stuff I missed.

 

I will probably buy more loot boxes for this Halloween event and future events even though I have slowed considerably on my OW play. Why? Not because I am addicted to getting the skins, many of which I never use again once new ones come out. I do it because I want to thank Blizzard for 1) the game they developed and 2) the stark difference in how they treat their player base compared to Bungie and 3) I am not a gamer who would spend that extra $40 on another game coming out every few months, I play only a few type of games. I like the difference between Jeff Kaplan and DeeJ/Cozmo so much I am willing to support Blizzard in their endeavors to continue to bring me OW maps, characters and God-willing one day a Campaign experience in a sequel.

 

If that makes me part of the problem, I apologize to those of you getting swept up in the rushing flood of microtransactions. However, know that I would never support a game that was P2W like NBA2k18 or the like. I would never buy my next round on a phone game when I could just wait until tomorrow to play. I give Blizzard money every few months because I believe in what they are doing with their game.

post #32 of 34
Cosmetic loot boxes for competitive games are fine. Overwatch isn’t a game you can ‘finish’. New characters/maps get added, the game is tweaked for balance, and they have to maintain the servers. For a game like that, coming up with a way to continue making money from the user base that has bought in is perfectly legitimate. If they aren’t charging a subscription fee, cosmetic lockboxes are a reasonable alternative. Just don’t buy them if you don’t like it.

It’s lockboxes with 1) gameplay items that create a pay to win situation or 2) that essentially lock actual basic game content behind a paywall (like the Shadow of War ending) that need to stop.

So anyone that gives you a hard time for spending money on Overwatch can take a hike. You can spend your money however you want.
post #33 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amos Orange View Post

So where does that put something like booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards?

Collectible card games frame the debate over this business model in such an interesting way because of the precedent that they created. The gambling boxes are there at the very beginning, where you gamble on getting the game pieces you want in order to play at all. A whole generation of gamers grew up with them and consider the need to buy packs of cards as normal.

There are a number of digital collectible card games on the market now, with online matchmaking. These games still have labor costs to run - they have to pay artists, musicians, coders, and infrastructure people - but the cost of printing cards and shipping them to stores is completely eliminated. These games are a gold mine for their developers. And since the online matchmaking tools put the publisher in the position of the tournament or convention guy who sets the rules about which cards are allowed, the developers can redesign a popular card or retire an entire product line in favor of a newer batch whenever they feel like it, sending players back to the game's online store to rebuild their decks.
post #34 of 34
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