With the advent of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 past some interesting discussions have come up about microtransactions. In the past few years we have seen a very strong move towards purchasing models based upon microtransactions and free to play. This was typified by the launch titles on the Xbox One. Both Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome heavily featured microtransactions, with Ryse featuring scarily pay-to-win purchases and Forza allowing you to skip most of the progression system in the game via purchases such as paying a whopping 37 dollars for the most expensive car in the game. The even sadder truth is that both of those games are 60 dollars at a standard price point. So not only do you have to pay 60 dollars but you can end up paying more than twice that in the games themselves. You can read some more about that here.
Another interesting event has happened that correlates to the increase in microtransactions seen in recent years.Silconera, the developer of Dead or Alive (DoA) have just announced that they are placing a limit on the amount of money you can spend on microtransactions in the most recent titles of both DoA and Dynasty Warriors. This limit will only apply to kids and young adults and it will be a set amount of money per month. The older you are the more you can spend. I think that this is an interesting business practice and I actually have to applaudSiliconera for this move. It shows that they actually care about their fanbase and don’t want to abusemicrotransactions.
The bigger question I guess is whether Siliconera made this change because of the recent move towardsmicrotransactions, the flagrant use of them on the Xbox One, or if it has no relation whatsoever. It’s also worth asking whether or not we will see more behavior like this from developers in the future. I know that iTunes app store could certainly use restrictions like this. There have been several cases of children spending large amounts of cash in the form microtransactions within games. The sad thing is that these games were actually aimed atchildren, and used abusive game mechanics to encourage kids to make in-app purchases with or without their parents’ consent.
I think that one thing is clear from all of these events. Microtransactions are most likely not going away anytime soon and there will have to be a point in which either we the consumer or some larger power sets their foot down and sets the line for what is ok and what isn’t. If we don’t do this I fear that microtransactions will never be used for the intended and entirely legitimate purpose. Allowing players to either purchase games in pieces, or allowing for a game to have no barrier for entry because it is free.