Of course we do. A million times yes. There are probably already thousands of other articles out there on the internet, but we cannot let our outrage at what’s happening to the industry fade out. So in this episode of our 1 Minute Rant series (video above), I express concerns, in rather strong terms, about the industry’s more-than-sneaky tactics regarding microtransactions. But what’s worse about this whole situation are the people who will still buy and support games where the implementation of microtransactions has clearly gone one step too far. Case in point: EA and Star Wars Battlefront II.
All of the old arguments are continually rolled out: “You don’t have to use them!” True, we don’t. But willful ignorance of a problem can only show publishers like EA that they can do whatever they want and gamers will still lap it up. Of course, we’ve all been buying games for years that feature microtransactions, and we haven’t really noticed because they were very easy to ignore. But the crucial point is that they were still there. The microtransaction-infection has been a very gradual process. And the industry knows exactly what it’s doing. Too much too fast, and the gaming community riots, like it has done with Battlefront II.
But there’s a reason why EA thought they could get away with it – because the line in the sand regarding how much gamers are willing to accept is always being redrawn and pushed back. We voice our concern every time we’re introduced to a new incentive designed to make us part with more money – season passes, pre-order bonuses, even DLC to a certain extent. But we simply grumble and move on to the next outrage. And the industry counts on us doing that. If we don’t cling to our anger and repeatedly show companies like EA just how unhappy we are with them, they will just become more and more brazen with their money-making tactics.
And some people still think that these tactics are a necessary evil. We’re always hearing things like: “Game development is really expensive nowadays! How else can they support their games?“. Have you seen EA’s fiscal reporting recently? It’s not as if they’re out on the streets begging! I understand that smaller studios may need to implement tactics such as microtransactions into their games, but doing it when you’re EA is inexcusable. Especially considering the microtransactions in Battlefront II give players who spend more a quantifiable edge over their opponents. So spending more money to get ahead becomes more attractive to the people who have more money to burn – the so-called ‘Whales’. There’s a huge difference between trying to get your game off the ground, and just plain greed. Pure, unadulterated, 100% greed. Greed is the name of their game, and there’s no way they can hide it. Sure, they removed microtransactions from Battlefront II, but, as they said themselves in a statement, they will be returning at a later date. Probably after all the controversy has blown over.
I think this recent hubbub surrounding EA has been a good thing overall. Other publishers will now think twice before creating a system designed to relieve us of more money. Even so, it seems inevitable that we’re heading into a future where microtransactions are the norm … where certain portions of a game exist on a disk, or in a digital download, but are hidden behind paywalls … where buying a game at full-price is allowing developers to further entice you into buying more of their products. Games will soon become platforms for advertising more content if we’re not careful. And we must be careful, and make sure our voices are heard every time the line is crossed.
It’s simple really: speak with your wallet, and do not buy games that will show the industry we accept their sometimes-insidious tactics. That does mean that sometimes you won’t be able to play the titles you’ve been looking forward to. But just think – by buying a game like Star Wars Battlefront II, you stand to lose so much more by supporting microtransactions, than what you gain in enjoyment from playing it. Look back 20 years, and where were season passes? Where were loot boxes? So just think: if we continue to accept gaming in its current state, how bad will things be in 20 years time?
You can check out my ‘1 Minute Rant’ video at the top of this article, or here if you prefer, but do let us know your thoughts on this issue in the comments section below.