There has been an uproar of late over some discussion of EA working microtransactions and DLC unlocks into more, if not all of their upcoming games, a topic which I find oddly fascinating. I’ve seen terms thrown around like “pay-to-win,” “pay-to-play” and many other ones thrown around and we’ve even seen industry giant Cliff Blezinski weigh in on the topic by basically saying, “hey, companies gotta make money and this is one way to do that.” Explosion.com’s own Matthew Mann even weighed in on the topic by bringing up the very valid point that if you are paying $59.99 for a game, why should you have to plonk down more hard-earned money to enjoy the game?
I think that there is probably a middle-ground in this whole affair where sometimes you can justify the world of microtransactions and paid-unlocks for certain items or abilities in a game that you simply might not want to work for. There are a few games in the past where there have been these “unlock everything” DLCs where I’ll admit, I went ahead and used them because there was no way that I cared enough to unlock some of those features. One of those games was even an EA game, Skate 3, from the really awesome Skate series. The truth of the matter was, after spending dozens of hours playing Skate 2 and enjoying it, I found some of the areas in Skate 3 to be lackluster and the single player mode got to be a bit tedious. Most of the fun that I had in Skate 2 was just messing around and creating my own spots or playing online with friends and causing mayhem. The quickest way for me to get the most out of Skate 3 was to just to grab the “Time is Money” DLC and go from there.
It worked, I had fun and got what I wanted out of the game. It sucked to drop the Microsoft Points on it, but it was what it was.
Another recent instance of me using a similar thing was with WWE ‘13 where I already had the Season Pass for the game and had played through the entire Attitude Mode and unlocked just about everything in the game. Then I had to do something that many who have owned an Xbox 360 will understand and I once again had to purchase a new Xbox (this being my fourth or fifth, I’ve lost count) and move forward. Long story short, it was not possible to carry over the WWE ‘13 save information due to some of the restrictions of the saves and my cloud storage, so I figured, “what the hell?” and just grabbed the unlock pack, which was free due to the season pass.
So there are some instances where using those weird microtransactions or DLCs makes sense, but I’m not sure that the trend of the gaming industry moving towards charging for everything will help it. What comes to mind for me is the airline industry where at one time checking a bag and having an in-flight meal was common, now the airline industry is full of “microtransactions” and every amenity costs money. If you travel or pay any attention to the travel industry you’ll see how consumers react to the airlines and that is not something that gaming needs.