Over the course of the past few years, gaming has a whole has been changed drastically. What was once a single-player focused industry has taken a turn towards greed. There are still many recent examples of single-player games which stand for what gaming should be: The Witcher 3 and God of War are perfect examples of this. However, a common inclusion in most games today, regardless of whether it is single-player or multiplayer, is microtransactions.
When they were first included in games they were simply in the background, whereas now they seem to be the talking point of any game release. In some games, it is a welcome inclusion. This is mainly games in which the only option is to purchase skins. When developers saw the profit that was being made from these small in-game purchases, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. People started to develop their games around microtransactions.
There have been instances where the gaming community came together and got developers to remove microtransactions from their game. Star Wars Battlefront II was a game that saw an overhaul after its release due to community backfire regarding loot boxes, but this is not always the case.
Most developers do not listen to the community if they are still making money from the game. The biggest example of this is FIFA Ultimate Team packs. These are a form of microtransactions known as loot boxes. They work with the player not knowing exactly what they are getting until they have already made the purchase. Loot boxes are included in many new releases, primarily multiplayer titles but recently they have found their way into single-player titles, in which there is no need for them.
Loot Boxes have always divided the community and recently have even been brought up in terms of gambling. Ultimate Team packs have become so infamous that they have even been banned from certain countries (Belgium) causing EA to restructure the way people play the game.
Microtransactions are a Part of Development
Developers are putting microtransactions and loot boxes at the centrepiece of the development process lately, building the game around them. Due to this, the focus of the game, whether its gameplay, story or graphics is being overlooked. Not just by the developers but critics and players as well. If a game contains loot boxes a vast majority of players view it as pay to win automatically, and refuse to buy the game as they know the game will require additional payment somewhere down the line.
For Honor is a perfect example of this. In order to unlock everything in the game, the player would have to put in over 2000 hours of playtime. Unfortunately, you can unlock everything by a simple swipe of a credit card, which just takes something away from the gaming experience. Gone are the days of putting hours into a game to unlock every level or character.
In the history of the gaming industry, there has never been a more divisive topic than microtransactions. There are certainly players who prefer them to be included in games, whether its because they have money now compared to when they were younger or they simply don’t have 2000 hours of free time to put into a game. But at the end of the game, the majority of the gaming community would rather “play to win” than “pay to win”, and perhaps in time, we can get back to putting the players first instead of greed.