“It’s like a choose your own adventure where you have to pay thirty cents to add a page” -Anthony Carboni
Anthony Carboni from the now defunct YouTube channel Rev3Games summed up microtransactions very well in this episode of their Casual Talk series. Microtransactions allow a person to use real-world currency to purchase in-game content. Whether it be new costumes for their characters in League of Legends, new maps to play in Call of Duty, or gold coins to speed up one’s progress in Clash of Clans. Almost every game, from PC to game console to mobile devices have some sort of microtransactions. The gaming community is torn between whether or not microtransactions are a good thing to include.
Anyone could easily talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to microtransactions. The goods are essentially that spending real-world currency allows you to progress in the game a lot faster, or make yourself look cooler. But the truth is, the bad aspects outweigh the good.
In the early days of smartphone gaming, many games were released that were free, yet had additional features to allow you to spend real-world currency. One example of how this turned out bad for people was when a 7-year-old child charged $3,000 to his mother’s iTunes account playing Clash of Clans on her phone. She made the assumption that because a game was “free-to-play,” it meant it was 100% free.
League of Legends is the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game out there today. Despite being a free-to-play game, League of Legends made $1.6 Billion worldwide in 2015. How? Through microtransactions. Players collectively spent $1.6 Billion on costumes for their characters, new characters to play as, and more for a game that was free.
To add onto the issue, Carboni also jokingly stated in the video how a game company releases a game for $50+ only to release new content three months later and claims the game is finally finished. Before the internet became an essential factor to video games, a game that hit the shelves would be a finished product. Now, games like Call of Duty started a trend involving “season passes,” which are typically $40-$50 one-time payments you make to receive content later on for a game. Season passes generally grant access to exclusive content that a game did not originally include. This poses the question: “Why do developers sell a game that has only half the content in it?” The answer? To make money.
Microtransactions are an unnecessary feature in games because if you were already spending a good deal of money on a game, you should expect it to be complete. If a game is free, it should remain that way.
Alex is a junior at Concordia University Chicago studying communications and journalism. Follow him on twitter @alexaguiluz_