Just Asking – Microtransactions


Just Asking – Microtransactions
Click’s Two Cents
Welcome to Just Asking: A new feature series wherein we pick a contentious subject and strive to raise some pertinent questions. Partially for clarification. Primarily for the LOLZ.

The intention here isn’t quite to spoon-feed answers. And we'll go (relatively) easy on the opinions. We’re not in the habit of dictating how you should feel, folks... So Cheer Up!!!* It’s merely to raise awareness, knock about some ideas and, with any luck, our frantic tweeting on such matters will become even more scathing!

*This was a joke.**

**It may not have been good.

This month’s topic is the Microtransaction, mainly because people are completely losing the rag over these ‘innocuous’ wee purchases. So let’s start with a simple definition...
Microtransaction – Buying Junk. Only Smaller.

But is the notion of purchasing game-modes, expansion packs, DLC and even cosmetic add-ons inherently bogus? Any more so than the wider concept of Capitalism? Wherever you fall on that one, chew on this knowledge: some EVE Online players have shelled out 70 clams (are people still saying clams?) on a cosmetic monocle for their avatar.


Gamers feel ripped off. But has there ever been a time when we haven’t? We’ve been accused of being an entitled lot more than once, so perhaps we just hate-the-face-off paying for things?

COUNTER-ATTACK-QUESTION-ATTACK: Does anyone enjoy paying for things?
And since a sizeable portion of us are not bow-legged, scurvy-ridden, internet pirates, I’m guessing there’s more to this one.

Sixty Bucks...

This seems the universally accepted retail price for a video game. Artificially imposed? Sure, but it’s become the tipping point. We don’t want to pay more than this for content, do we? Not even if it offers 200+ hours of entertainment? Not even for those titles which are downright slavish in their attempts to appease and reward consumers?

Maybe it’s because cheats used tobe free of charge... Down, Right, Up, Left, Y, B during the Capcom logo for same character 2 player during Street Fighter? Yes please mate! Developers used to dole out these hacks free of charge. Now we’re being asked to pay for the same shortcuts that were historically handed to us on a platter. A silver one. With noms on it!


The fact is, until they find a way to fuel starships with Fan Rage, the product remains the property of the producer. They set the terms. They fix the price. They decide on content, delivery method and payment options. Positively revelatory that one, eh?
But do they also get to decide how you (aye, YOU!) spend your cash-monies?

[I’m actually going to bend the rules here, and answer this one for you....]


Your appreciation for specific games or developers notwithstanding, if you feel cheated (justifiably or otherwise) are you obliged to fund their efforts? If a publisher, developer, whomever, deliberately tailors their experience to wealthy holders of credit cards, do you feel coerced into sitting there, taking it, and thanking them for the privilege?

Ultimately, unsurprisingly, the issue isn’t as black and white as it initially appears. Or more accurately, it is exactly that! You resent having to pay to unlock multiplayer content? Well, maybe the publisher resents their “lost” revenue from Trade-Ins? Some might think launch day DLC is scandalous but have I heard a single complaint levelled at Gearbox’s stunning Borderlands 2Season Pass?

Is anyone really complaining that they didn’t delay that one 6 months so we’d have a larger content package for our 60squids? Because if so I’d like to meet them. And punch them.

Conclusion Inbound!

Maybe micro-transactions are the Devil? Just like Rock Music and Soft Drinks. Maybe publishers should stop pissing about, release a title in its entirety and be happy we’re willing to drop sixty big ones on it?

Alternatively, by segmenting their product and slapping price tags on constituent parts, do micro-transactions offer a more flexible, convenient, free-form play style? Maybe the coolant system for a juiced up Line-Gun in Dead Space 3is worth 75 cents but not the 180 minutes spent looking for its damn parts?

Perhaps dropping €10 on an XBLA game, then maybe a further €2 on skins, and an additional €8 down the road on an expansion is more appealing than shelling out €150 for a Skyrim collector’s edition with die-cast dragon that can warp time with its steely gaze?

Actually one fifty sounds pretty reasonable for that....

In this instance, and more than a few constitutional referenda, would anyone object to the advice; vote with your wallet?
Finally, and I’m just asking here, with GAMEs and HMVs going into receivership and NFC payment methods becoming increasingly abundant, do any of us really think the microtransaction is going away?

Or more pertinently, do any of you think you HAVE NO POWER in shaping its role in our beloved hobby?


Just Asking – Microtransactions on ClickOnline.com
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