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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Where Do We Draw the Line? Microtransactions

Microtransactions are basically the equivalent of buying a sandwich at a restaurant and having a list of items that you can add for a small fee. Now these aren't things that are in the way of significant additions to the meal like a side or a drink but something closer to like mayonnaise, mustard or even pickles. Ultimately its not going to add much to the meal itself but its an optional thing that you can buy to make the meal either taste better or just simply be better. I should make the distinction that its not DLC. Microtransactions are constant. You have the ability to buy it an unlimited amount of times. DLC is more like adding a new map or a new gun. A slot has been filled and can no longer be refilled.
Its a trend that most people are against, and for good reason. Microtransations are basically a 'pay-to-win' ideal, where that gun or item would have taken hours to gain someone can just outright buy. Personally I'm a bit on the fence. I've delved into my fair share of microtransactions here and there. I've spent about a thousand dollars on a specific MMO apart from a subscription fee or DLC to add in game money. I'm not proud of this. Recently I've been playing Warframe. At first, I played it on my PC and didn't really jell with it. I've gotten back into it on my Xbox One and have been having a lot of fun with it. I got a bit more money this paycheck and instead of being a responsible adult by saving it, paying off bills or even just not spending it on stupid crap I went and pushed about $80 into this free game. I'm not proud of it but I stand by my decision.
My personal feeling is if you want to get it, why not? Its an option and people are angry at the idea of the option... for some reason. Ultimately the game isn't telling you "You must buy this" otherwise that would be a completely different idea, rather its giving the option or ability to go further into the game. Warframe has a bunch of weapons and the aforementioned Warframes (which are basically classes with their own unique abilities and stats you can use and change out on as much as you want) but there's a limit to how much you can carry at once. You can have two Warframes at a time and a few weapons in any melee, primary and sidearm category. I've hit this ceiling a bit and its kind of annoying. I had to sell some weapons in order to use these new ones I've built... some of which I regret later because they totally suck. In any case you can spend real money for in game money which can be used to purchase new gear, items, weapons, frames, ships, blueprints and just about everything else under the sun including the ability to hold more of everything.
Where I personally draw the line is where the game hampers your overall progress and forces these transactions as the only way out. This is why I don't play mobile games or a better term would be 'Freemium' games. 'Freemium' is where a game is introduced as free but constantly stops you and forces you to halt your progress for an arbitrary amount of time, "But you could alleviate that buy giving us money!" The real annoying part of this is where the fact that Freemium games usually are already making money off you via adds. And I will say that I praise those Freemium games that use the sensible approach to giving you these items as long as you sit through this small commercial. That makes sense. Everyone wins. You get what you want minus the stupid real money cost and they get more ad revenue.
Warframe is the ideal balance between that for me. The ceiling only hits when you have too many weapons. Ultimately I only need a few weapons so its not really a big deal. Apart from that, there is a way out not counting the real money idea. Just sell these weapons and make some money while freeing up some space. That makes sense. Apart from that, the game is truly free (minus the fact I have to pay for Xbox Live, which is a whole other can of beans, and my internet has to be paid). Warframe is a game that is worth about $40 in my opinion. Its a good game that keeps adding more content free of charge so my idea is that rather than paying my dues I'm showing appreciation to the developers for making a solid game where the microtransactions aren't a necessity but still a viable option. The sandwich is great but some extra mayo or even ketchup would be nice. Microtransactions aren't bad... when they're not blatant. The idea is it should enhance the game or experience rather than being a necessity to find some modicum of enjoyment.

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