Microtransactions: The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly

If you are unfamiliar with microtransactions, they are currently the hot topic in all of the gaming world. In this post, I will describe what has been very good and the increasingly bad about what this pertains to video games.

The Good: 

In video games, most microtransactions are purely cosmetic. They allow the player to personalize their characters or buy new items that look cool. Most of these items are pretty cheap or bought with in-game currency that the game provides. This example is prevalent in games like Fortnite and Overwatch. These types of microtransactions don’t impact the game’s balance at all.

The Bad

Companies like EA and Warner Brothers have had a terrible rapport with their way of pushing microtransactions. EA recently had to change their policies in their last game, Star Wars Battlefront II. Like Overwatch, EA placed loot boxes, a type of microtransaction that users randomly unlock certain types of items based on their rarity. Think of a slot machine that uses in-game items instead of money. EA used its loot boxes in Battlefront to allow items that traditionally unlocked through playing the game to be unlocked early through the system. This essentially creates a game that you can pay more money to get ahead of other players. Warner Brothers did this with Middle Earth: Shadow of War and others have tried and failed to damning results from their player-base.

The Ugly:

The current state of affairs has gotten so bad that developers have to tout the fact there aren’t loot boxes in their games. It is sad and frustrating to everyone in the gaming industry. The ESRB rating scale just added loot boxes onto their curriculum, and from what EA and other companies have stated in recent months, they aren’t going away anytime soon.

The Solution:

Moving forward, hopefully, these items aren’t abused. They are akin to gambling and anything with gambling can present a multitude of problems for anything. Perhaps companies can find ways to monetize content in other ways that do not perpetuate a gambling style minigame. I would suggest the old crafting system that games used to implement to try and gamble on a rarer item. The crafting system would allow you to take multiple items of different rarities and combine them into an even equivalent or rarer item by using in-game currency. League of Legends had a similar system for their runes before they updated in the last season.  What do you think could done about loot boxes going forward? Do you agree with my suggestion of a crafting system or another system? Sound off in the comments below.

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