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Micro-transactions: Good or Bad?
Posted on March 07, 2013 by Drew Bergmark

Yesterday, the managing director of PikPok Games Mario Wynands spoke with NowGamer about topic that has been spreading like slime in Ghostbusters 2: micro-transactions. The more anger about it, the more the topic grows. What's all the fuss for games that use micro-transactions? It's not that publishers like EA are pointing a gun at you saying you have to buy these micro-transactions but still consumers are voicing their opinion. How will micro-transactions affect the industry at large: in a good way or in a bad way?

Mario told NowGamer that gamers are cynical about EA potentially using the micro-payment model in many or a large majority of their games. "This is perhaps justified given it implies a systematic application of the model across everything, including those titles and franchises that may on the surface be ill-suited to the approach." Games like Dead Space 3 have been receiving backlash from fans of the franchise for implementing such a monetization system.

When it all comes down to it though, it's very similar to the gay marriage debate in America right now: just because a gay couple wants to get married doesn't mean it'll inflict on your religious institution by the government forcing a church, temple or mosque to hold your ceremony or reception because it is always up to their choice to serve whatever customers they choose to serve just like many retail or restaurants reserve the right to do still today in America.

As customers of these games, you should do the same. Ignore what others may do and focus on yourself because these companies don't want to sell products to just a certain market. If that makes these corporations evil for wanting to make a profit, this elitist gamers' logic means that you should stop supporting companies that are opening new locations and increasing profits.

Take on games like Battlefield Heroes. Arguably, Battlefield Heroes is one of the best free-to-play games but because it uses micro-transactions some gamer elitists are ignoring it because of the supposed 'pay-to-win' aesthetic transactions it uses to support the servers and developers who work on constantly updating the title. Yes, the game may not offer exactly what you want in a third person shooter but for the entry price, which is free, there is no arguing that you are getting a bargain if you never have to pay a dime for the game other than the Internet and power usage.

Mario Wynands continues on: "Well-implemented microtransactions should therefore not drive consumers away, and might even be a drawcard for consumers who want the flexibility to extend their experience." Looking at what was seen in Dead Space 3 from their micro-transactions, EA's implementation of the micro-transaction system was simply that: to draw in new fans of the series while also trying to keep fans of the franchise happy with the experience they were offered.

Surprisingly enough, some games that offer micro-transactions also give you money back or coupons. As far as I know, Toys'R'Us is the only retail store in the world that offers gamers to play a free-to-play game in which they can receive store incentives such as 10% off coupons or $10 of in-store credit. While you don't even have to spend money to get such credit, the developer behind TRS Towers made it so if you use a micro-transaction it'll be easier to attain such in-store coupons or credit.

Cliff Blesinski, formerly of Epic Games, wrote a Tumblr post about the topic and he directly said this about the subject: "Making money and running a business is not inherently evil. It creates jobs and growth and puts food on the table. This country was built on entrepreneurship. Yes, there are obvious issues around basic business ethics and the need for a company to give back to its’ community, but that's not what this blog is about right now." While Jim Sterling completely agreed with that statement, he completely disagrees with how Cliff is tired of people pointing the finger at EA and saying hateful things as most people praise Valve for the same exact thing. That's perfectly fine and most people don't realize that having an opinion on the Internet is okay without blowing up a website or mass hysteria.

Just as Anakin Skywalker claims near the end of Revenge of the Sith, some gamers may complain that micro-transactions are evil or have tainted the industry while other gamers have a different insight on the subject that it supports developers with small payments for those who choose to make them. When it comes down to it, it's all a matter of opinion but to right out say that they are good or bad in all situations would be illogical. On mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, games being offered for free are given more of a chance by gamers, hardcore or casual. Sure, those more hardcore may never pay a dime but sometimes that extra five minutes of play is worth those two dollars that you throw into your phone bill.

Free-to-play games like Battlefield Heroes or Marvel: Avengers Alliance have been created with hardcore gamers as the primary demographic and both titles are very successful for what they do as they offer gamers new offerings each month while still allowing those who don't want to pay, the same chance to compete on the same balanced level of competition. When it comes down to my opinion, micro-transactions are great as they add continuity to a game I enjoy or a device I use worth the value I see in a purchase and that's exactly what the gaming press is here for: to give you opinions on games that you should or shouldn't spend money on. Just as I've stated before, it's a matter of opinion and right now there is a market for games that use the monetization system so make your opinions known with your wallets, not with unpleasant comments.

Drew Bergmark - Staff Writer viggo (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

What's your most anticipated game for July?

Rocket League
God of War III Remastered
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
The Swindle
Lost Dimension
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