Flamebait Friday Debate: Where do you draw the line on micro-transactions?

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As video game consumers, we’ve all grown both weary and wary of all the DLC in our games. I do, however, think that most of us have come to terms with the fact that it’s just part of the business model. There’s DLC that’s done right, of course – like The Witcher 3’s set of expansions that each offer more engaging content than some whole games.

But there’s a very different sort of DLC that’s permeated games. They’re perfectly acceptable in smaller games, and in free to play ones – but they’re increasingly starting to show up in full priced, retail ones. Yes, I’m talking about microtransactions – the sort that offer your characters more money, or XP – the sort of stuff you should be getting by playing the game.

DEMTs

The latest egregious offender in this regards is of course, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It’s a single player game, so paying real money for in-game credit chips or the Praxis kits necessary to upgrade your augmentations only hurts the experience for the player.

Ars Technica’s written an entire editorial around it, saying

“As it turns out, the game’s publishers and developers slapped a paid-money system into the campaign mode, which makes DX:MD one of the rare modern $60-for-a-quest games where you can pay additional money to beef yourself up. You get two options in this regard: buy more in-game “credits,” which you use at the game’s shops to buy more weapons, ammo, and items, or buy “Praxis Kits,” which you spend on hero Adam Jensen’s cyborg-ability upgrades. Each time you level up, you get one Praxis Kit, and most upgrades require spending one to two Kits.”

It seems to be entirely publisher mandated, of course. When furore around these microtransactions first erupted, the game’s developers took to reddit to calm the storm. An Eidos community manager said that nobody need buy any of these to play through the game.

“We have not, and will never, compromise the balance of the game in order to direct people towards microtransactions. The game was balanced 100% independently of the microtransactions available in the store.

Remember when you could do this sort of thing by inputting cheat codes? Anyway, where do you draw the line on microtransactions? What’s okay and what’s not when it comes to wholly optional, but in-your-face monetisation in AAA games?

Read  Marvel’s Spider-Man is aiming to release DLC episodes that feel “new and fresh”

On hand, I don’t think it’s my place to tell people what do do with their money. If people want to spend money ruining this non-competitive game for themselves, that’s their prerogative.  On the other, it’d be far too easy for developers to slip in a few balance curves that’d make people feel like they needed to whip out their credit cards.

Last Updated: August 26, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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