I remember as far back as 20 years ago, the way we consumed video games was quite different from the way we take it all in now. I mean, back then, I was a 15-year old kid who was doing either one of two things: Playing basketball with my friends in the neighborhood (while also getting into shenanigans in said neighborhood), or playing Nintendo 64 games with those same friends… namely, the old THQ/AKI wrestling games, and Goldeneye — the game the kickstarted a lot of people’s love for first-person shooters. Of course, outside of these titles, we invested our respective allowances from our families on various games for varying systems N64, Playstation, or Sega’s very underrated Dreamcast console. One of the things that made these games so great to me, was that everything that the developers wanted in the game, was well, like the Electronic Arts commercials used to say, “in the game”.
Fast forward to present day. An age where this strange word called “microtransaction” is in the daily vernacular of nearly everyone that plays video games (and also, anyone that has to spend money on them for someone else, you know, like their own children). Those of you who either aren’t gamers, or haven’t played a video game since Superman 64 scarred you for life, might have heard that word in passing, but are asking yourselves “what in the hell is a microtransaction?” Well, to those that may puzzled, I’m gonna read the Wikipedia definition of the term, because I don’t feel like looking anywhere else. A microtransaction is “a business model where users (of video game consoles or PCs) can purchase virtual goods with micropayments.” Basically, this generates another revenue source for game developers and publishers (mostly publishers). They are used in both “free-to-play”and purchased games across nearly all platforms. Most instances, it can be a bit justified when it comes to things like downloadable story content, or cosmetic things for characters in single-player and multiplayer games (i.e. Overwatch) Other times, the implementation of microtransactions can get way out of hand, especially when it affects multiplayers video games — this is where another term, pay-to-win, comes from. Whether you’re a parent spending who has been suckered into spending money on your kid(s) microtransactions in Fortnite, or a 35-year-old basketball fan who tricked himself into paying for Virtual Currency to level up his custom player faster in NBA2K (aka ME), this phenomenon — which I think is two steps away from gambling — seems to do more harm to the gaming community than good when utilized by game publishers.
Which leads me to my biggest (and worst) example: Electronic Arts (that company that coined that awesome phrase from the 90’s, It’s in the game) and their continuous mishandling of their Star Wars license.
To be continued….
(photo cred: Overmental.com)