Halo 5 has microtransactions. Does it matter?

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The internet is caught in yet another storm in a teacup, as news emerges that Halo 5: Guardians will feature in-game microtransactions. In both of the gane’s multiplayer modes – Traditional competitive Arena and the MOBA-esque Warzone – a currency called REQ points. Those points can then be spent on REQ Packs. Or, if you’re the sort, you can just buy them.

The REQ packs you buy, whether using in-game currency or real-world money contain items: things like unlockable weapons and armours, skins, assassination animations and other bits and baubles. The fact that they can be bought for real money is getting up many people’s noses – as fans of the series believe that 343 has introduced pay-to-win mechanics.

Seeking to calm the fires, Halo 5 development head Josh Holmes (Waypoint via Eurogamer) has clarified that only cosmetic items can be used in the game’s competitive Arena mode.

“While players will earn REQ Packs across both Arena and Warzone, only cosmetic items can be used in our Arena experience. This is to ensure that all players start with the same weapons and abilities as part of our vision for the balanced, competitive play in Arena multiplayer.”

The same isn’t true for Warzone, the Player-vs-AI-vs-Player mode that’s got a bit of Titanfall DNA in it.

“In Warzone, our new massive-scale multiplayer experience, we wanted to give fans even more variety and choice in how they play. Within Warzone, you’ll have the ability to deploy a multitude of weapons and vehicles from your inventory of REQs throughout a match. These requisitions are governed and balanced by Warzone’s in-match REQ Level and Energy systems, which are driven by player and team performance within the mode.”

According to Holmes, the REQ packs can be purchases “as a matter of convenience.” I don’t like it. I don’t think a full-priced retail game should have micro-transactions to begin with, unless they’re wholly cosmetic. While that may be true for Halo 5’s arena mode, the fact that the 24 player Warzone still allows people to use paid-for weapons and unlocks is cause for consternation.

Last Updated: June 18, 2015

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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