Microtransactions, The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Micro-transactionsIf you aren’t paying attention then you may have missed that micro-transactions have jumped from mobile games to console games disguised as small pieces of DLC. Some say they are evil and ruin games, while other point out that when done properly can keep game cost down and provide gamers with variety and options. So, are there times where this controversial practice can be used in a good way? Or is it always bad and ugly?

Shortcuts, Hold the Slime

Something I noticed in the extra content for Child of Light was that I could buy packs of jewels and other in-game currencies that would help me bolster up a bit and have an easier time with the game. This, in my mind, is totally fine. You have a single player game that offers minor but legitimate shortcuts. If someone wants to shell out the bucks to boost up their inventory or wear a different outfit, then let them. This is where micro-transactions can compliment a game with a new layer of freedom and choice. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t shoved in your face, it’s simply there for those who want it. The key here is that it is not something you feel motivated to do by the fail rate or grindy nature of the game. When a game is built to work against the player so they feel the best option is to punch in a credit card number, then you aren’t offering freedom and choice, but coercing a purchase.


In my experience the worst culprit of “pay-to-win” was a mobile game, Marvel Puzzle Quest. Any game with rpg elements, card packs, and PVP, is probably the worst environment to have micro-transactions. Especially when the only way to level up and stand a chance against players will stout decks is to slog through slow and grindy leveling paths with infrequent and very unrewarding random packs. The game felt more and more rigged with every update. And they started releasing new characters with stats and powers that were obviously over powered. This incentivized players to quickly buy up the necessary cards and resources to max the newly minted op character so they could lay waste to the competition. Then, like clockwork, enough people would gripe, and the op character would get nerfed. And big surprise, the nerf would happen right before another new op character would launch. Wash, rinse, cha-ching!

It’s a trap!

The best thing for gamers to do is reject the type of game or micro-transaction that hurts the quality of the game and becomes its own self-serving entity. So don’t fall prey to the temptation of, “If I just pay a few dollars I’ll be able to win”. It’s a trap! The more we cross our arms and refuse to buy into the bogus methods of extra content and instead reward games like Child of Light, the better standards will become. So buy and play wisely!

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