OPINION: Microtransactions please no one but greedy developers

by | Oct 3, 2018 | Opinion

Kelvin Tran
News Editor

The sheer greed in the video game industry today is mind boggling. The infamous EA games microtransactions/loot boxes controversy with Star Wars Battlefront 2 may have set an unfortunate precedent in the development of games.

Some of the new games are being designed so that players will have to buy powers or upgrades, or even to unlock the game at new levels, so that they can continue. The fees vary. But the point seems to be to syphon money from players.

Two highly anticipated games, Devil May Cry 5 and Halo Infinite, will feature microtransactions. Devil May Cry 5 will offer the option of using real money to buy upgrades to make your character stronger, rather than playing the game to unlock things using player skill.

Let’s look at other examples. We Happy Few, a game that came out in August after three years of early access on Steam and plenty of hype, started off a $30 price tag when it was offered through early access but then almost tripled in price to $74.99 once it changed publishers to GearBox Software. The game wasn’t even worth $30 before release due to the bugs and glitches, and there was lack of in-game content. Yet it was later released anyway as a “full game” for almost $80. Despite the huge amount of community backlash, the developers turned a deaf ear and even added a season pass for $26.99. So you are paying around $100 for a broken, incomplete mess.

Some games were resold as being remastered or limited. A few examples are Dark Souls 1 and The Last of Us being resold with updated graphics and but little apparently added to the gameplay.

Probably the biggest slap to the face is the release of Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition, which is a rerelease of Final Fantasy XV, but with Downloadable Content (DLC) and new exclusive bonuses.

The Royal Edition costs less than the original base game. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if not that the three major DLCs feature the personal stories of three main cast of characters were not developed before the game was released. Several times throughout the game, members of the main cast leave and go off doing God knows what before coming back with injuries or trauma. All of the action happened off screen somewhere else, unseen by players. That left plot holes in the game’s story, which creates a market where players would have to pay for the DLC in order to get the full experience.

If anything, these actions by video game companies ruin the gaming experience of their customers. They know they can do whatever they want and still turn a profit because there will always be people who will buy overpriced products. And they are right because an unfortunate portion of gamers are in fact kids who are making the purchases with their parent’s money. Anyone who grew up as a gamer will know this is true. Parents for the most part are clueless about video games in general.

How do we solve these issues? One way would be to boycott their products, it may seem like an obvious and mundane thing to do but it is effective. When the first Battlefield V trailer came out featuring a female soldier with a prosthetic arm, fans rose up citing historical inaccuracy.

“Either accept it or don’t buy the game,” executive vice president of EA games Patrick Soderlund said. And the fans obliged him, causing a massive drop in pre-orders. EA then scrambled to bring back its customers and Soderlund “resigned.”

We gamers do have the power to change things after all. Why stop with Battlefield V? We need to let these developers know they cannot get away with greedy business models. Perhaps then we will see a change, maybe back to the good old days where you only had to pay once for a video game.