There’s been a lot of talk lately regarding the phenominom of microtransactions. Defined loosely, microtransactions in the video game world are those small dollar purchases that add minor amounts of content to video games. Many people label microtransactions as bad, and a dangerous creep towards making players shell out their hard-earned cash for game elements that should already be included within the launch title.
The recent furor is over additional weapons for the upcoming EA title Battlefield: Bad Company. EA notes a total of ten additional weapons, aside from the core set in the basic game, will be available for purchase; five will be included with the premium game, and five as individual offers through different promotional venues — likely like preorders, much as Guild Wars did at launch. Each of these weapons then would be available for purchase, using cash money on XBox Live, after the game launches for those who don’t have access to them.
Many have decried this as a slippery slope. People have stated that this is only the beginning of the end, for soon we’ll see armor pieces for sale in WoW — much like the Horse Armor fiasco from Bethesda as part of the Oblivion setting — additional guns, mechs, spells, whatever. You won’t be able to play that game competitively, they say, unless you sink real cash money into it! Those with the most money can buy their way to the top!
I’m sorry; how’s that different than the real world?
EA is greedy? Of course they are! They’re a corporation. Corporations exist to make money. Additional content, however broken, useless, or unbalanced, represents additional risk on the part of the company, and they expect to recoup their investment. And yet they’re still the biggest game publisher on the planet.
For all the anger and arm waving surrounding the issue, I predict the same thing as always happens. People will buy the game, many will cheerily buy the additional content, and everyone will be happy. Many already pay just to plug their game consoles in to play online (XBox Live). And you love it. Why is this additional content such an insult?
Don’t you remember playing online for free — besides your ISP fees? I do. I do it all the time with my PC and my Wii and my DS.