Now included in every Electronic Arts title from this day forward is microtransactions. Touchy news, yes, and even touchier when perceiving the future. This could be good though, in a way. Read on to find out why.
Under the sad and sadly triumphant rule of Electronic Arts, some game franchises “evolved” to other genres. Dead Space 3, as a most recent and disheartening example, shotgunned its survival horror roots to harness an action-focused play style. The stark change reflected poorly on EA, who heard their share of criticism. One of the writers even called the shift “a necessary evil”. Hearing that quote, of course, is instantly depressing and signals a trend towards the publisher pushing more marketable titles.
Dead Space 3 also holds the notorious record as being EA’s first no-multiplayer mainstream title with microtransactions. Sparking most of the anger, players could purchase top-level weapons and attachments with real-world money and decimate Necromorphs with ease. The negative response moved sales downward significantly, selling 26% less than Dead Space 2 in the UK. Though, admittedly, other factors were involved, but sagging sales don’t bode well for another game.
Generally, Electronic Arts seemed unfazed by the thunderous response and today announced all future titles would have microtransactions. Even though a digital future is inevitable, the fact that EA acted first shouldn’t surprise anyone. They have toyed with every pricing model and gaming faux pas–even releasing an “indie bundle” (I don’t think they understand the concept of “indie”).
Microtransactions have worked gloriously for free-to-play competitors, namely Zynga’s collection of ripoffs, the MMO business and Team Fortress 2. It wouldn’t take long for one hardline gaming company to catch the transaction train, and if that means more free-to-play titles from the big publishers, it works out for everyone. The worry, obviously, is if some games go from free-to-play to pay-to-win, which rapidly kills any title and destroys a publisher’s confidence in the system. But the pricing method ultimately means more people have access, subsequently making it easier to establish new IPs since free-to-play is essentially the new version of demoing a game.
And Electronic Arts is all in the business of having more series under its wing.
As Rock, Paper, Shotgun noted in the article linked above, one massive question is how this will correlate with Mass Effect 4. The multiplayer of Mass Effect 3 has transactions for weapon packs, basically a lottery system for gear and characters, and five free content packages conveys that it’s helped in funding continued development for the game. Should the situation arise, a coalition of fanboys will editorially march on EA’s front step and protest loud with pitchforks and torches in hand.
Sometimes the mayhem is fun to watch.
To the readers: If this means more free-to-play EA titles, are microtransactions ultimately a good thing?
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