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Electronic Arts, THQ Look To Microtransactions

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the do-not-want dept.

Businesses 83

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Forbes: "Electronic Arts, one of the world's largest games publishers, on Monday partnered with microtransactions platform Live Gamer to bolster its online game efforts. ... THQ also announced a partnership with Live Gamer last week to facilitate microtransactions of its online PC and mobile games in North America. ... Worldwide sales of virtual items are expected to reach $7 billion by 2015, according to online games research firm DFC Intelligence. Fast-growing social games companies like Zynga, the maker of FarmVille, are leading the charge. The company is estimated to be pulling in around $600 million in revenue annually, largely from the sale of virtual goods. Americans are also growing comfortable with the microtransactions model. Game companies point to the music industry, where consumers buy 99-cent digital tracks instead of full albums on CDs."

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Piracy will be impossible (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036222)

Note that in this case the games itself would be free like in asian markets and I doubt that the normal games are going anywhere. This is most likely to expand their market. There are a lot of people, especially teens, who rather pay for individual items than go to a store and pay full $60 for a game.

It also makes piracy really hard, especially when the games are played online and the info about items and addons you own are on the server. It's practically impossible to pirate that. With the 90% piracy rate on PC games it's not surprising that publishers are looking for new ways, even if that's sad. PC gamers really need to think about their future and not try to get everything for free, because it just leads to publishers making games where it's not possible - shitty online games with microtransactions for the housewifes.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036658)

Not sure why this is downvoted. It looks pretty accurate.

As the Internet becomes ubiquitous you should expect to see fewer and fewer games without a significant online component. Piracy is rampant and it's publishers won't pay developers unless they maintain control over the game environment.

Note that I didn't say this trend is GOOD or RIGHT, just that it's what is happening.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33037160)

It's not downvoted. He appears to have negative karma, which means his comments start at -1.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33039132)

Took long enough for the fucking mods to catch on to his trollish ways, didn't it?

Go away, sopssa. We don't like you.

Ad hominem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040236)

Go away, sopssa. We don't like you.

If there's one thing we don't like more than sopssa, it's ad hominem moderation of comments.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33037188)

check any site and you'll find xbox 360 games available for download along with wii and other consoles. this whole piracy argument is one giant red herring manufactured by the industry because it doesn't want to compete with the past products. it'll also take any excuse it can get to raise prices.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33042050)

lolwut? There's so many things wrong with this post, I don't know where to begin.

1) Past products have nothing to do with it. It's all about competing with free versions of their own products, past or present.
2) The availability of console games on websites does nothing but strengthen the piracy argument, since it shows evidence that of both supply and demand of pirate software copies.
3) A red herring does not mean what you think it means
4) A company does not need any excuse to raise their prices. It's not like there's some regulatory body that asks for written justification for every change in price (at least, not for software).

If they're changing their pricing scheme, it means something has changed, because companies tend to price, more or less, for maximum profit. Unless the situation has changed (e.g. piracy rates going up), then raising their prices just means less profit for them.

Re:Piracy will be impossible (2, Interesting)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33039108)

With the 90% piracy rate on PC games it's not surprising that publishers are looking for new ways, even if that's sad.

What, sad? No this is great! Finally software companies are doing their duty, and finding something to replace their outdated business model! This is what slashdot has repeatedly said that it wants, and now exactly that is happening! What could be better?

(Yes, I am being sarcastic.)

Microtransactions is a code word (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33036352)

for "Nickel-and-Diming"

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036392)

Nickel and Diming can be ok, if it means you don't have to pony up a $20 up front. It's also ok if they charge you a nickel for something which brings you at least a nickel worth of enjoyment.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036504)

Nickel and Diming can be ok, if it means you don't have to pony up a $20 up front. It's also ok if they charge you a nickel for something which brings you at least a nickel worth of enjoyment.

Except you'll have to pay $60 up front and then a nickel for every bullet or health pack.

Guess I'm not going to be buying many games in future.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036510)

With EA involved expect to pay $69.99 up front for the game, except that the last half is available only for $10 as down loadable content, $14.99 monthly for the subscription, $49.99 every year for the obligatory expansion, $4.99 for each extra map, and then, you can pay $0.10 for each extra click per day.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036678)

Then don't buy it. EA isn't your friend. They're a corporation. They don't like you, they only like your money. As long as people see expansions as "obligatory", they'll keep charging $49.99 for them.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

rident (1287114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037008)

Give this localman a medal!

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037304)

While I agree with you to some extent, maybe it helps to play Devil's Advocate: so what's the alternative? As far as publishers go, I can really only think of one or two who don't treat their customers like absolute garbage. Activision, THQ, EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Rockstar/Take Two -- all behave like money grubbing jerks who seem only to be interested in squeezing every dime out of you. Only Valve and Bioware seem to provide decent value to me; but even they are trying and take from the honey pot once too often. Bioware recently released updates for Dragon Age which put new locations on a map that you use in-game -- except these are just place holder locations whose intention is to drive people to buy DLC. It seems that in the consumer versus business scenario, the choice is to put up with maltreatment at the hands of a corporation, or to not game. Not ideal exactly. It's also hard to see a way out of this dynamic any time soon.

There's a limit where consumers will put up with some amounts of unfairness in order to get their media. The corporations know this and push that envelope ever higher. And like anything, consumers become desensitized to the previous level over time.

So I don't think this is the kind of Free Market envisioned by Milton Friedman et al, where consumer choice drives innovation and competition. If that were the case, consumers should be getting ever more for less, not the same products subdivided into "micro products" they end up paying more for. What we're seeing here is innovation in ways to screw over the consumer, not innovation in the games themselves. And when the entire industry does it, you have a sort of de-facto collusion.

Now this is all very speculative, fatalistic, one-sided opinion on my part. I recognize also there are quite a few exceptions. Still, it's hard for me to come to any other conclusion when every single game these days has a half dozen silly DLC add-ons half of which seem like they were carved out of the actual game. The only way to fight back does seem to be not to bother with add-ons, or only ever buy them if they are really worth paying extra for the game. It's just that fighting back hardly ever seems worth it.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (2, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33039436)

Basically, you've answered your own question. The alternative is to not play. Sorry if you don't like this, but free marketers never promised free ponies. Not everyone gets to be an astronaut either.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040186)

It has come pretty close to that for me.

In the last 5 years, I have only bought 2 games at normal price. Maybe 5 more at $20 and a handful at $5.

I don't even have a real video card in my computer anymore. My play-station 2 is in pieces (but still working thanks to some patched cables).

I am just not willing to invest time in new crap games, much less the high price generally demanded.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#33046656)

No, the idea of free markets working effectively was sold with the idea of competition driving innovation. You seem to have completely missed that and instead reverted back to a knuckle dragger unicorn insult in order to mis-characterize what I said.

You may not really be a jerk or an idiot, but that was a really moronic reply. Sorry. Not sure if you will even see this but it bothers me when people are trying to have an intelligent conversation and it gets dragged down to unicorns and bullshit like your reply.

I'd be happy to discuss further but you need to show that you can formulate a thought besides "well the free market didnt promise unicorns" Give me a fscking break.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33051542)

Despite your troll worthy reply to a light hearted joke, I've got a little time to kill:

Friedman et al. do not predict the nature of the market that will develop nor do they predict the results for a single consumer. Their focus is on macro level ideas. Your own individual utility is not maximized in this freeish market. This does not implicate a failure on the part of their analysis, as, presumably, the utility of ALL parties is maximized: buyers and sellers as a whole.

In my flippant response is a kernel of truth. The free market did not predict or promise you, the single human being, anything. It predicts that for the entirety of the 'market', our utility will be maximized. For some this will mean that DLC and other non-traditional game transactions will be an incredible deal that they could never have imagined possible. For others, they'll be wholly pissed off and walk away from the whole mess.

The market that is arising is entirely to be expected. I'm going to assume that you've had calculus along the way. Further, I'm assuming you know that an integral results, basically, from subdividing an area into ever smaller areas so that rectangular areas summed will equal the area under the curve. Microtransactions are doing this in the market. Buying a $50 boxed game gives utility as dx approaches 1, for example, whereas a microtransaction gives utility as dx approaches 0. I have no idea if this is the econometrics present in Chicago school economics, but it certainly could fit.

TL;DR: Maximizing utility of the market doesn't mean anything regarding the individual buyer or seller.

Still TL;DR: Friedman didn't promise you a pony.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 4 years ago | (#33091516)

Well that was a better post but you finished it with the same stupid line. Still maybe now you will ponder who it does help. And the.real question, is it really utility that is being maximized, or is it just profitability? You also still missed the defacto collusion point.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33104778)

Again, it's not meant to help any one person; it's an aggregate.

Collusion can only occur with imperfect knowledge. Imperfect knowledge means a non-free market.

If we are talking a study of free market economics, yes, it is utility that is maximized. For one company, they will choose pure dollars right now, no matter what. For another, they'll choose more dollars later. For a third, they'll sacrifice some profit in both the short and long term in favor of paying workers more. Similar analysis applies on the demand side.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

rnswebx (473058) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036972)

You do realize that EA bought Playfish [techcrunch.com] , a producer of Facebook games similar to Zynga, right? I'd venture a guess that this has much, much more to do with those sorts of games than it does their 'traditional' PC/console games.

With Zynga probably becoming a billion-dollar company in 2011, people are starting to finally take notice of the micro-transactions that have been popular in Asia for some time. My take is that EA is making these sorts of changes to try and catch up to Zynga in the social gaming space.

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036624)

Not really. I'd rather pay the $20. When we're talking about $20 transactions, that's something that's worth my while to investigate and see if I'm getting a good deal. When we're talking about $.05 transactions, that's not worth my while to consider critically. Sure it's not a big loss if I get ripped off for 5 cents, but it adds up. I'd rather just skip it.

To put it another way. For a $20 transaction, I have to make 1 decision. For $20 worth of $.05 transactions, I have to make 400 decisions. Which is going to be less stressful to me?

Re:Microtransactions is a code word (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33039482)

Most people don't stress over five cents. That's the whole point. It will be less stressful (and therefore, more likely to succeed) with multiple nickel transactions.

You will figure it's not worth the effort to see if it is cost effective and pass on the entire scheme. EA and others are betting that enough people will figure it's not worth the effort and go ahead and purchase. Judging by the value and profile of Zynga, it's not hard to figure which way to bet.

It boils down to this (3, Insightful)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036364)

So when you think about a microtransaction, you think it's a small amount of money. There are two ways for a studio to profit from this: Either they get a wider group of people paying for a game for less money, or they charge so many micropayments to their core users that it winds up netting out the same as if people just bought the game in the first place. In the former, more people get to enjoy the game for free, but if the game doesn't get REALLY widespread acceptance, then they default to the latter, adding more and more micropayments to people that don't realize how much they are spending until they have dropped $100 or more on the game.

Should the latter happen, then the whole idea of micropayments will start to look shady and people will avoid any game that employs the tactic. In other words: It's a slippery slope for all but the most popular games.

Re:It boils down to this (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036526)

this is the same problem as DRM. Business want to earn big profits, but have taken their eye off of making their Customers happy. You can really understand this as many of these businesses are completely mystified why Valve's Steam is so popular when it is very clearly providing services that Customers want.

Re:It boils down to this (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036648)

A big part of microtransactions are lowering the barrier to entry. If you try a bad game, you leave. No money spent. If you try a good game, you stay. Yay for you. This tends to be a more self-regulating system than traditional box sales, where the pee-sale hype determines sales, and a mistake costs the consumer $60.

Also, why is everybody talking about this as if it is new? Asia has had huge microtransactions games for ten years. The US has had some, with Anarchy Online, Puzzle Pirates, and others being microtransactions based for years.

Well, it depends. (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036686)

http://www.mordororbust.com/233-lotro-store-beta-screenshots/

This is for the change for Lord of the Rings Online Monthly Subscription/Lifetime membership model to a hybrid form in which you can play for free but have to buy content, similar to what they did with Dungeon & Dragons Online.

Now, having played the game a lot, I can tell give you a rough impression of the prices involved and what they mean.

Take dye. 125 points. An outfit consists of 6 items. If you color them all, that is 750 points. IF 100 points are 1 dollar (widely assumed but not yet confirmed) then that is a fairly hefty sum just to color your outfit. And the dyes can also be created in game. If you are willing to pay 750 points, then surely you would be willing to donate say 1 dollar to my paypal account for the dyes?

Crafting scrolls are even more laughable they give a 15% increase to your critical change when crafting for 30 seconds. Not a long time at all. 40 points. I crank them out by the truckload.

The content itself is far more expensive 500+ points. There are in the original game: Lone-lands, North Downs, Evendim, Forochel, Trollshaws, Misty Mountains, Angmar. 500+ points per area. Say that it is 5 dollars per area. Then you need to spend 35 dollars... how much did the entire game cost again? Oh, its budget now. 10 euro's...

So... buy them in the item shop or a real one, 20 dollar difference. And then you get all orginal classes, full character slots no chat limits etc etc.

Need I go on? It seems pretty clear that the item shop in this case is NOT the cheap option.

To be true micro transactions such items as a dye need to cost about 1 cent. But that isn't profitable. And how many dyes do they need anyway? So Lotro item mall also has scrolls that give a permanent +30 to any stat. OOOPS! Pay to Win anyone?

The old fashioned model of box-game with a monthly subscription is simple, the customer knows what he gets and so does the game company. Micro transactions only work on those who can't do maths and for those who are really going to play your game for free.

I am afraid that for regular games it will be just more of the examples we already seen. Race games were every car has to be bought, RPG's with horse armour for 1/10 of the full game.

Stop nicke and diming us to death. Gamers are not infinitly stupid and once we caught on it will be to late to change anything. We will have stopped buying and you will have gone bankrupt.

Re:Well, it depends. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037860)

IF 100 points are 1 dollar (widely assumed but not yet confirmed) then that is a fairly hefty sum just to color your outfit. And the dyes can also be created in game.

My brothers plays Metin. There are paid haircuts (that also give you some defense points), but they only last two weeks.

Re:It boils down to this (2, Insightful)

Radtoo (1646729) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036764)

But I am sure they want to get MORE money than they would with larger expansions as was done up until now...

So what do they presumably get from this move?
  • DL on LIVE => No resale.
  • Many people will just buy anything without considering reviews, believing 1.99$ is not worth proper consideration.
  • Maybe they plan to exploit multiplayer gameplay to constantly create forced buys. You do not want to be barred from playing the game with your friends because of missing maps or game mode, do you?
  • Of course only having to create this content for games as long as they're still popular. Live will help them quite accurately measure popularity. If the competition comes out with a hit game that takes most of their market share, their losses are lower than with larger expansions.

Re:It boils down to this (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33042694)

What? You mean people look down on being nickle and dimed for something?

Really? I never would have guessed people would consider this shady.

'Microtransaction' is just a new name for the same old thing. Its just a way to take your money while tricking you into thinking you aren't spending much money.

Its not a slippery slope and never was, its just a fucking scam praying on peoples propensity to spend a little bit of money way too many times because they don't realize what they are doing.

People have been trying to rip other people off with this scam for thousands of years. The only difference is the primary target is children who generally don't know better and easily fall into the scam.

Yeah, but who buys movies by the chapter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33036520)

Most games are much more like movies or books than a series of separate and distinct songs.

Who would ever think of buying a book by the chapter?

Just release a sequel if you want to milk it a bit.

Especially for story driven games, I would much prefer to just buy the whole thing than to get stuck at a virtual toll-booth every time I was about to make it to the next level.

Re:Yeah, but who buys movies by the chapter? (1, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036610)

Who buys movies by the chapter? Everyone who saw Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.

Re:Yeah, but who buys movies by the chapter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33037380)

yeah but each 'chapter' was a full movie in its own right. what publishers are doing now is taking a $50 game and breaking it into 3-4 $30 installments, which is a fucking ripoff.

Re:Yeah, but who buys movies by the chapter? (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036626)

Who would ever think of buying a book by the chapter?

Comic book fans. You buy them a month at a time, and later on they bind them all together as a book, and sell them together.

Re:Yeah, but who buys movies by the chapter? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036674)

Most of Charles Dickens works were sold serially.

Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (4, Insightful)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036542)

Yup. They killed a thriving industry, now they're looking to squeeze blood from the stone they made out of that vibrant, resilient hobby. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

It's gruff, but that's the way I see it. The faster these arrogant publishers go out of business, the quicker we can start over. When they've gone, nothing of value will have been lost.

This all started with floppy disks and baggies. We don't need Hollywood-style production values to play and enjoy, and we can't abide the cost of corresponding Hollywood-style accounting and mismanagement that goes with it. I don't see the value of adding all that production cost to what amounts to the same crappy FPS, or a makeover on "The Sims."

Let it die already, fast, the sooner we can all go back to enjoying weird little games in baggies, and maybe find something interesting to play as a result.

--
Toro

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037092)

Let it die already, fast, the sooner we can all go back to enjoying weird little games in baggies, and maybe find something interesting to play as a result.

I'm not sure why you seem to think that these things are mutually exclusive, but there are plenty of great and/or weird games out there, you just have to look for them.

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040934)

I have, I could list them. Nothing I play right now is what I would call a AAA title.

My favorites:

Weird Worlds [shrapnelgames.com] , distributed by Shrapnel Games. Basic, top down Star Control IIish space combat and exploration game. $24.95

Cave Story [miraigamer.net] (Doukutsu Monogatari). Free.

Anything over at Spiderweb games. Gog.com hooked me up with a strange little game called "Evil Genius" for $9.99. You have to hack the widescreen in, but it's a surprising lot of fun.

There are so many options, and I would dearly like to see AAA publishers die so they would have more room to flourish.

--
Toro

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33069860)

Honestly if you can get past the ascii graphics: Dwarf Fortress.

While I'm not sure what I think of the donation model, it seems to be working at an escalating rate for Tarn and his brother, and given the sheer ENGINEERING behind the game they're producing I have to agree the donations are a small price to pay (so long as they never commercialize it, subsidized on the back of their 'donations', which is my only real qualm with the donation-based freeware model.) It always reminds me of Introversion and their promise to open source Uplink in a few years... it's been what, 10 years and still no open source code release? Pay-for-source is NOT the same thing.

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (2, Insightful)

Thirdsin (1046626) | more than 4 years ago | (#33038050)

"Yup. They killed a thriving industry..." They killed a thriving industry for US. By US i mean the over 25 group that grew up with the classics and grew up with the system we knew and loved. What is happening now is a slow change, an evolution if you will. In 5 more years the largest part of the player base will not know the system we grew with and loved so much. They will only have been exposed to the industry in front of them, microtransactions and DLC. Gaming is no longer in the domain of the 'geek', it is mainstream. The entire connotation of gaming has changed. We don't like it because the change hasn't been advantageous for US.

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33041270)

I disagree. I have kids. Mainstream kids. They bring the neighborhood kids around, and I let them into the candy shop every now and then.

You break out Sonic the Hedgehog or Bonk, and they drop Super Mario Galaxy or Viva Pinata or Little Big World like a rotting, cold potato battery. It's the instant and natural responsiveness of the game that does it, I think.

Especially around age 9.

When I pull out those games, I begin to see actual, instantaneous enthusiasm. Enjoyment. No furrowed brow and frustration with the controls like with any comparable modern game. It isn't just that this tack has ruined gaming for US. It's ruining it for everyone but a small segment of the market, and publishers are undercutting their future bottom line, to satisfy (but often just plain bilk) an increasingly picky, and attenuating, "hardcore" gamer segment, some of whom have turned to piracy in response (which is just more attenuation from a business perspective).

At this rate, the new generation of gamers, and by extension any future game writers/designers, finds something else to do. Gimmicks that get people to pay more money, for less value, don't last. In the long run, the hobby needs enthusiasts like US. It dies without new blood. Hollywood was darned smart to write "There's No Business Like Show Business." What does gaming have akin to that sort of inspiring athem?

Remember, it's the "geeks," US, that keep bringing up "Mario" as the only lasting anthem for gaming I know of.

So no, man, not for a second do I believe that it is just US. I do believe there's a profit-taking model progressing, that IMO is unsustainable. It feels eerily like evolution or at least like something we can't control.

And while my cynical mind can agree with you on that much, my spirit won't roll, and I hope to kindle something in anyone over 25, and kids of all ages, who actually enjoy this hobby.

--
Toro

Re:Oh look, we killed it, let's try *squeezing* (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33041290)

I agree with what you said.

I also take exception to the supposed link towards the music industry.

the music tracks on a CD are rarely if ever related to one another. Each are generally a whole work on to itself - with most of them sucking horribly in many cases. It'd be more comparable to having Awesome Game, Awesome Game II, Awesome Game III: The Sequel's Sequel, and Awesome Game IV.

Only Awesome Game was any good. So you get that and who cares about the rest.

With this micro bullshit, it'd be like getting the drum beat when you download the song for your 80 cents. If you want the lyrics, that'll be another 10 cents. You want the guitar? 15 cents my friend. Keyboards? Aren't you a big spender! another 2 cents. Eh, the piano sucked in that song.

Then you realize after you finally have the full song you paid more than 99 cents compared to what you use to pay!

Microtransactions... Good Until People Wise Up (1)

Mr Pleco (1160587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036546)

Microtransactions have spawned an entire group of gamers who find nearly as much fun from paying the game for free and going to insane lengths to get something for nothing than they do from just playing the game.

Other people might pay $10 or $20, then realize what they've done and quit the game in disgust, especially as game executives get more greedy and obvious with their requests for money.

Either way there's a limited pool of people who are paying and that pool is shrinking fast. I personally wouldn't invest in a microtransaction funded game as there's better opportunities that exist for long term growth.

Re:Microtransactions... Good Until People Wise Up (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 4 years ago | (#33038380)

and yet Korea has had a thriving gaming industry for around 10 years existing solely on Microtransactions.

They've got tons of games here absolutely free, and completely playable to the end without paying a dime.

Microtransactions and withholding content (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33036558)

Since their introduction, microtransactions have been subverted from their original purpose of funding content development after the game's release, and used instead to lock out content already on the disc until the user pays (e.g. Resident Evil 5's multiplayer, Street Fighter IV's costumes). This was little different from practice in the past, where content would be withheld for a future expansion pack, but is it all that different?

To use a car analogy, withholding content for an expansion pack and nickel-and-diming with microtransactions seems to me like the difference between buying a car with the ABS option separate for extra cost, and integrating ABS into the car, but requiring the customer to pay to unlock it. Are they really any different? My gut tells me the second scenario is somehow worse, but I can't quantify exactly how it differs from the first scenario.

Why not? (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036620)

It's working so well for the airlines; gaming companies want in on the action.

This is a great comparison! (4, Funny)

Kindgott (165758) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036702)

For years now, we've been able to get around the old injustice of having to buy a whole album just for one or two of the songs which weren't crap....

Now, they'll let us buy just the levels in a game we want to play? Great! Level 1 is always such crap, no matter the game, I shouldn't have to pay for it!

Those of us with busy schedules can just purchase the final level, all the pleasure of beating the game without the time investment of all that buildup nonsense.

Re:This is a great comparison! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040640)

For years now, we've been able to get around the old injustice of having to buy a whole album just for one or two of the songs which weren't crap....

I suggest you need to do a little more investigation into your music & change artists. There are countless albums out there that are great from start to finish, so please don't make sweeping statements about all albums having only one or good tracks on them.

Maybe that's the case for most modern over-marketed plasticized modern rubbish, but it's certainly not the case for what I listen to.

Re:This is a great comparison! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33042918)

Sore spot much?

Re:This is a great comparison! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33043146)

Not at all. Like I said, there's more than enough good CD albums for me to find out there & enjoy.

I think the record companies are doing a fantastic job at the moment remastering & rereleasing some great old music at the moment, I don't see £10 for a CD I'm going to enjoy for at least the next 20 years as being anything but great value for moment.

I just don't like sweeping statements from people who clearly have a limited musical experience or taste range, and no idea of what they are talking about.

Re:This is a great comparison! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33049662)

Hey, I found this sense of humor lying on the ground, and I think it might belong to you. You really should take better care of it.

Re:This is a great comparison! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33049712)

RIAA Apologist alert! Don't let this record company exec ruin your chance to only buy the game levels you want. Stick it to the man!

Insert Credit (3, Insightful)

ALeavitt (636946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036794)

A huge part of the allure behind home video games in the 70s and 80s was that people could now pay a higher initial cost for the games that they wanted to play and then no longer had to endure microtransactions. It seems that if EA and THQ have their way, we will slowly slide back to the days when we paid for a couple of minutes with a game rather than buying the game itself. After all, it would eliminate the used games market and ensure that developers and publishers get more of our money for less of their product. For a corporate bean-counter, that's a win-win!

Re:Insert Credit (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036868)

Next thing you know they'll make you stick a quarter in a slot for three more "lives" in the game.

Re:Insert Credit (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#33042120)

It seems that if EA and THQ have their way, we will slowly slide back to the days when we paid for a couple of minutes with a game rather than buying the game itself. After all, it would eliminate the used games market and ensure that developers and publishers get more of our money for less of their product. For a corporate bean-counter, that's a win-win...

...until you come to the lose: gamers might not take to the old ways so well, and they may end up selling less games. Plus, it only takes one company to sell their product the other way, and they will get the lion's share of profits. Even if the software industry formed a cartel, they'd still be competing against indie developers (that's aside from potential legal trouble).

Re:Insert Credit (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33042808)

As a developer who wants to 'make games' for a profit/hobby I don't really care if they pull this crap, its helpful to me.

I don't have a budget, I do it for fun. I'm a programmer, not a graphic artist or sound engineer, no way I can compete with EA on a quality level across the board.

This however gives me a nice easy way people will want to give me a try. $5 for my little game forever, or $5 in nickle and diming so you can play Maddan 2011 for 45 seconds.

People won't be nearly as impressed by my game, but they might still buy it.

EA and THQ want to recreate the profit margins of arcades with none of the effort that went into making an arcade like building it and giving people someplace to play games together. Now they want you to pay for the equipment, they want you to pay for the energy, they want you to pay for the game, then to top it off, they want you to pay per play.

People only have so much money, you won't get more, only less. People aren't going to spend more on games just because you find a new way to rip them off, theres only so much blood in the turnip! They'll just stop paying when they realize how the quality keeps getting lower and they keep getting less and less and paying the same or more.

Let me give you a hint EA and THQ. You've been down this road.

You lost and got hurt pretty badly last time, and now you're doing it again? Welp, good for you, thanks for helping me out.

You insens1tive cl0d! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33036808)

VERY SICK AND ITS volume of N3tBSD the rain..we can be Slashdot's Theorists - to stick something

Are real people buying at iTunes? (0)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036844)

There is a small but vocal minority that would buy the phone book if Steve Jobs offered it to them, but is anyone else still buying music? I don't know anyone who does.

If there are, what percentage of them are curmudgeonly old people too conservative or technophobic to pirate, and what percentage aren't going to die in the next 20 years?

Re:Are real people buying at iTunes? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040680)

Your obviously youthful drug-addled brain has glossed over one important fact that destroys your argument completely...

For music to be released in the first place, curmudgeonly old people like me have to be prepared to buy it (which I am *MORE* than happy to do, BTW, at least for good quality music anyway) such that someone can make it available to pirates to obtain freely.

Incidentally, I'm in my mid-40s, have been around computers for 30+ years and probably know better than you how to rip my music & DVDs. Oh, and I don't plan on dying any time soon, BTW - for having subsidised your free music habits all these years, I shall be expecting a return favour from you when and if I need to employ some drug-addled youthful simpleton like you to empty my colostomy bag...

Sorry, gramps (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#33051676)

But if you're in your mid-fourties now, you'll be in your mid-sixties in twenty years. That's just shy of your sell-by date. I wasn't trying to be mean, but it's well accepted that social change happens to a large degree through older generations passing on.

I'm happy to pay musicians for music, but I can't in good conscience fund terrorist organizations like the RIAA.

Good luck with the colostomy bag, but I don't imagine you could afford me.

How about lower the price of the game vs 60+ this (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036880)

How about lower the price of the game vs $60 + this shit?

on a wing and a prayer (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 4 years ago | (#33036898)

Who is this 'god', you speak of?

Well, that's your problem, I am sueing you and you can sue this 'god' person.

how is this tactic taken seriously in a court of law?

I must just be old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33036956)

The only add-in type DLC (as opposed to downloaded games like Deathspank or Steam games) I ever bought was the Warden's Keep add-on for Dragon Age and I felt ripped off at the end. In fact, I was incredibly irritated with Bad Company 2 for the way it sold competitive advantages to people.

Unfortunately, I'm getting old, and I think my time has passed. I grow more and more weary every year with having to hunt down DRM cracks so I can actually OWN the games I buy, and I'm not keen at all on the notion of paying for digital add-ons I'll never really have possession of. I still hook up my old NES from time to time. What are the odds that even in five years I'll be able to play with most EA's shit?

Alas, the kids are growing up with this as the norm. With Facebook and Twitter, I'm losing the privacy battle to a younger generation. I guess, eventually, I'll lose this battle too. Eventually, I'll lose the entire culture war to them and I'll just be a quaint antique from a bygone era when buying a video game meant actually going to the store and getting a little plastic cartridge full of electronics.

Maybe I'll just retire to the fireside with a nice book and a cup of hot tea. At least I can fire up the kindle when I do it to retain a little bit of an advantage over MY old man though....

Re:I must just be old (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037204)

You go on that rant about owning what you buy, and then you say you will use a kindle?

You do remember when they edited and deleted media off of users devices remotely, right?

Re:I must just be old (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33039376)

You do remember when they edited and deleted media off of users devices remotely, right?

And that's why I do what I do with any other media: back it up. They can delete away, I'll just copy it back.

Re:I must just be old (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040278)

They can delete away, I'll just copy it back.

And the moment you copy it back, the copy gets deleted again.

I'm just sick... (1)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037192)

...and tired of having to deal with what the average consumer has voted with their wallets about. Micro-transactions in general aren't what the problem is, it's the fact that the average consumer will gladly shell out for all the micro-transacted extras in a game.

I DON'T WANT the extra costumes in a console fighting game for 99c, I DON'T WANT any of the 20 extra levels that each cost 1/5 the full price of the base iphone game. It is currently fine that I don't want those things and can choose not to get them.

What I hate is that I have to deal with them even existing. There's no "opt out" of the extra costumes in SF4 for example. I can't click an option that says "no extra costumes shown to me" if I play it online. So I have to look straight in the face of the people who inherently cause these micro-transactions to be commercially viable. I have to see the leaderboard entries for the levels I haven't bought, all to entice me to buy them. You pay full price $60 for a standard game, and if you're one of the people who don't really like being advertised to, your game advertises all the micro transacted additional content that's available on day one.

I don't mind a dev team continuing to work on a game I enjoy, and later coming out with something they've spent extra resources to produce. I can choose whether or not to get that, like I could always have chosen not to get Brood War and continue to play Starcraft without repercussion back in the day. What I disapprove of is stuff that's available for a price on the first day just because there are people who will buy it.

What needs to stop is the stuff that actually affects what you do if you just want the base game. Extra map DLC that's not free, that now affects your ability to matchmake successfully for example. And that's only a problem because there's ONLY MATCHMAKING and no dedicated servers. I'm looking at you, CODMW2.

Just keep all the dlc and micro transacted things off the disc, and maybe a blurb of advertisement text saying new stuff is available, a button to see all DLC for example. But keep it separate and invisible if you choose not to partake in it. By all means opt me in to seeing other player's stupid costumes that they paid for, but let me opt out if I wish. Keep my matchmaking from saying "play the DLC playlists!" when I don't want to get those maps. Let me find out on my own that the vanilla matchmaking is dead and choose to go get the DLC. Have a notification that pops up after searching for a game for two minutes that says "matchmaking slow? everyone may be playing DLC", but no hints before then. This way, at least it's a compromise if micro-transactions are here to stay.

I'd also like it if there was an option to buy a game for $65 instead of $60 at the store on/near release day that guarantees all future DLC is included. That'd be awesome, because I think it would actually work because a lot of people would probably cheap out anyway.

Would you pay $2,000 for a video game? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040326)

I'd also like it if there was an option to buy a game for $65 instead of $60 at the store on/near release day that guarantees all future DLC is included.

Imagine how much a lifetime subscription to all of a game's DLC would cost for a game like Rock Band, with over 1,000 downloadable songs [wikipedia.org] at $2 each [n4g.com] .

How is a 99 cent song a microtransaction? (3, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037222)

By definition, shouldn't only millionaires think 99 cent songs are microtransactions?

Re:How is a 99 cent song a microtransaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33039290)

You go on ahead and call them mini-transations then.

Re:How is a 99 cent song a microtransaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33039388)

You mean 990 thousandaires.

Not the same thing (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#33037666)

99 cents for a song on an album isn't the same as video game downloadable content. I can buy and enjoy a single song without owning the rest of the album. But for most downloadable content, you need to have bought the entire 50/60 USD game to even use the content.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040334)

I can buy and enjoy a single song without owning the rest of the album.

Unless you get to things like Pink Floyd's albums, all of whose tracks show up as "album only" [crunchgear.com] . Nor can you buy one scene from a movie.

Re:Not the same thing (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040616)

Good, quite frankly. If you haven't got the attention span to be able to listen to an entire album start to finish, then you shouldn't be listening to Pink Floyd, or countless other great artists.

Turning music into "Pick 'n' Mix sweeties" cheapens it - well, maybe not for the plasticized chart dross out there, but for proper music written and produced by proper musicians it does.

How will this affect Star Wars TOR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33038378)

They have a potentially Good Thing going on, don't ruin it.

A Dollar is Not a Microtransaction (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33039988)

Five cents is.

Dear EA & THQ, (3, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040650)

How's this for an idea?

How about you develop some games worth buying *FIRST*, and *THEN* work out how you are going to sell them to me?

That's not true (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33051668)

THQ published Relic's Company of Heroes. That game kicks serious ass.

Re:Dear EA & THQ, (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057096)

But in the meantime, they should just go on developing the games for you to play for nothing, right?

K.I.S.S.... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040840)

... "Keep It Simple Stupid".

As an avid gamer, I've pretty much stopped buying modern games now, simply because gaming has become far too complicated for me.

I used to be able to go into a games shop, browse a good selection of titles, buy something, then go home, load it on my machine & play it. I didn't have to download new drivers, then a 500MB patch for the game before I even started to play it, I didn't have to register my security code on a web site, I didn't have to scratch my head reading the back of the game box trying to work out if I could play the game multiplayer on a local LAN.

I thought the Internet was supposed to make all this shit simpler, but it actually just gives games companies the ability to rush this shit out, secure in the knowledge they can just finish it later by publishing a patch everyone can download.

Gaming has become far too complicated for me now, and with the exception of new Fallout or Half-Life games, I'm simply not interested in any other big releases that are coming out in the future.

I keep a Windows XP installation around for gaming, otherwise everything else for me is Linux and that's how I look to get my gaming fun now - existing Linux game ports for things like Quake & Unreal Tournament, free games like Oolite and OpenTTD, running some Windows games favourites in WINE, and finally older games in emulators like DOSBox & UAE. Bunch all that together and there's far more gaming capability there than I will ever have the time to use fully...

Sorry, but I'm really not into hemorrhaging money for, in effect, games that I am renting rather than owning, no matter how "micro" the micro-transactions are and my model for games companies is quite simple:

"I buy your shit & play it, if it's good fun and good value for money, then I'm pretty certain I'll come back and buy more shit later. In the mean time, kindly piss off and leave me to my fun."

Modules, anyone? (1)

Lewah (1785074) | more than 4 years ago | (#33046890)

I don't see the real gripe here. Everyone's so pissy about micro-transactions being yet another way for the big bad industry to screw you. Seriously? They're giving you an opportunity to see if you even like something before committing anything to it. Boy, I sure wish other industries would screw me over like that instead of forcing me to drive a 50% devaluation off the lot...

Okay, so they're figuring out that arcades were the way to go and are now wrapping back around to it. So what? What is it now, 12 million subscriptions to WoW or some such nonsense? Apparently the idea of "ownership" as you're defining it doesn't seem to matter to them, and hell - you're probably even one of them.

You know, there was a "gaming" that used a similar model... D&D, anyone? Personally, I think DDO was brilliant when they went back to their roots and converted it so that anyone could enjoy, but just like the "modules" of yesteryear, people could still pay a small amount for additional content.

This is a good trend here, and it's not like the "owned" games will go away, just that it's high-time for a more broad adoption of this model as well.

All-in-all, I think people just like to complain. ;)

I Don't See What the Big Deal Is (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054056)

Surely most people will still be spending roughly the same amount on games that they always have. If stuff gets too expensive then they will just buy less extras and do something else instead.
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