The Weekend Chat: Microtransactions and Loot Boxes

 
 

Microtransactions are nothing new. They rose to prominence with free-to-play titles, as a revenue stream for developers and publishers. But over the last few years they’ve crept into more traditional, paid-for games; Overwatch, Shadow of War, Battlefront II. Even incomplete titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds feature them.

We’ve talked about microtransactions before on The Weekend Chat, but we’ve never discussed their rise to prominence.

Why do you think microtransactions are finding their way into traditional games?

Outside of the easy answers (read: greed), is it a reaction to increased development costs? If so, why hasn’t the base cost of games scaled accordingly? Is offering more DLC a salve for this?

Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for the topic idea this week, Tony!

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Comments Comments (23)

 
Posted by Paorio
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 4:05 PM
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I like being able to sell crates in pubg but hate the fact that i need to buy a key to open it
 
 
 
Posted by ChieftaiNZ
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 4:13 PM
1
13 October 2017, 04:05 PM Reply to Paorio
I like being able to sell crates in pubg but hate the fact that i need to buy a key to open it
Only the Gamescon case needed a key to open it. The others don't require any type of key to open.
 
 
 
Posted by toner
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 4:25 PM
1
What if ESRB or whatever governing body for video games set a limit of $x for publishers to set their loot crate prices, and/or y number of times a consumer can purchase said crates in a 24 hour period?
 
 
 
Posted by Wertbag
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 4:29 PM
1
PUBG's problem is the crates can be sold by players, this inspires people to cheat to earn the in-game currency to convert to real cash. If Bluehole sold the crates as the sole source then we would have the same choice but hackers would have no financial benefit.
I would prefer it if there was an in-game shop where you could purchase any clothing choices you wish. Real money could be used to buy in-game currency to speed up purchases, but nothing would be out of reach of people who bought the game.
The loot boxes just change players having a choice of what they buy into a random lottery. Save up your money to buy a box and get the same lame item repeatedly. It is a terrible mechanic and I wish games would drop it in favour of normal shops. Even in-game auction houses can work, allowing players to earn in-game currency only, so there is no real world cash benefit.
 
 
 
Posted by Syn-Ryn
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 5:05 PM
4
I don't mind if it's purely cosmetic, if the microtransactions affect the gameplay I'm not touching that game.
 
 
 
Posted by that_black_guy
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 5:13 PM
2
Microtransactions are making their way into more games because people buy them. NBA2K is a great example. You could point the finger at Take2 and cry "Greed". But don't blame them, look at all the my players that were maxed out on day one... they're the reason it's getting out of hand
 
 
 
Posted by vanke499
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 6:25 PM
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I think microtransactions have a place in gaming, it gives the publisher more revenue to add content and update which improves and lengthens the life cycle of great games. What I don't agree with is when micro transactions give players an unfair advantage over others in PvP situations, this leads to paytoplay gamers dominating.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 6:35 PM
3
I've never objected to aesthetic ones and totally get the need to make more money.

But at the same time consumers have limited money and it's reasonable to object to stuff like this.

As to why outside of suggestions of greed? Dunno, would need to look at the books. If a publisher drops 10 mill on marketing for a game, maybe they should cut that. How many cars does the CEO own? Maybe they can cut that. How many unnecessary bureaucratic processes, meetings and staff add unnecessary costs to the game cost? Dunno, Maybe they can cut that.

If their customers are pissed off because of their actions and don't buy their products, that's on them.

If they have accounted for that and expect to make more money from loot boxes from their reduced fans. More power to them. But they get the consequences of the pissed off fans. That's how the customer/ company relationship works.

I'd like to see comparisons in costs and actual sales over the last 10 years with similar natured games as it wouldn't surprise me if they sell more now anyway.

And if it was really a concern about the cost of making games and that HAVE to spend all that money, give a 140 buck no microtransactions version.

The reality is publishers are companies that need to make money for shareholders and will do anything they can to do so. The more money they make, the safer execs are in their jobs and bonuses.
If they can charge more or make more, they will. They will do stuff like this if it works, they will stop if it doesn't.
 
 
 
Posted by Paorio
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 6:50 PM
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13 October 2017, 04:13 PM Reply to ChieftaiNZ
Only the Gamescon case needed a key to open it. The others don't require any type of key to open.
Oh really!? Might buy some then! Thanks for clearing up my ignorance here
 
 
 
Posted by Romulus
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 6:52 PM
1
13 October 2017, 05:05 PM Reply to Syn-Ryn
I don't mind if it's purely cosmetic, if the microtransactions affect the gameplay I'm not touching that game.
Agree. I avoid these as well but @that_black_guy has a valid point. A lot of people actually prefer to pay for an edge which is why they are becoming more and more common. It's unfortunate trend that doesn't seem to be slowing down
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 6:58 PM
1
13 October 2017, 05:05 PM Reply to Syn-Ryn
I don't mind if it's purely cosmetic, if the microtransactions affect the gameplay I'm not touching that game.
Word.
It's simple.
Overwatch: ok
SWB2: get f**ked ea
Shadow of war: f**k you WB.
 
 
 
Posted by that_black_guy
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 7:56 PM
1
I usually wouldnt care about microtransactions, but in the case of NBA2K it's pretty much forced me out of a gamemode at this point. Because the playground is full of players who have paid for the advantage and they won't join a queue I'm in because my stats aren't fully developed. So unless I squad up I'm left on the sidelines until I grind for another 200 hours
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 8:26 PM
-1
Because people allow it to happen, because people buy the sh*t. because publishers are money wh**es who want to squeeze every cent out of the consumers. no thy can easily make a profit from game sales alone *shadow of war*

The cheaper games are the more they sell, making more profit, i mean holy sh*t look at pubg, im sure it's price helped sales.
 
 
 
Posted by Ron
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 8:37 PM
1
13 October 2017, 04:25 PM Reply to toner
What if ESRB or whatever governing body for video games set a limit of $x for publishers to set their loot crate prices, and/or y number of times a consumer can purchase said crates in a 24 hour period?
This actually is a great point. Though I've heard stories of folks in the UAE spending $50,000 within a mobile game, so maybe there's no law around this stuff.
 
 
 
Posted by ChieftaiNZ
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 9:16 PM
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13 October 2017, 06:35 PM Reply to drunk_monk
I've never objected to aesthetic ones and totally get the need to make more money.

But at the same time consumers have limited money and it's reasonable to object to stuff like this.

As to why outside of suggestions of greed? Dunno, would need to look at the books. If a publisher drops 10 mill on marketing for a game, maybe they should cut that. How many cars does the CEO own? Maybe they can cut that. How many unnecessary bureaucratic processes, meetings and staff add unnecessary costs to the game cost? Dunno, Maybe they can cut that.

If their customers are pissed off because of their actions and don't buy their products, that's on them.

If they have accounted for that and expect to make more money from loot boxes from their reduced fans. More power to them. But they get the consequences of the pissed off fans. That's how the customer/ company relationship works.

I'd like to see comparisons in costs and actual sales over the last 10 years with similar natured games as it wouldn't surprise me if they sell more now anyway.

And if it was really a concern about the cost of making games and that HAVE to spend all that money, give a 140 buck no microtransactions version.

The reality is publishers are companies that need to make money for shareholders and will do anything they can to do so. The more money they make, the safer execs are in their jobs and bonuses.
If they can charge more or make more, they will. They will do stuff like this if it works, they will stop if it doesn't.
The idea you suggest, the raising the price of the games to account for inflation, is a lie. Jim Stirling did a video on it recently called 'The Sixty Dollar Lie'.

They don't need micro transactions, as these Triple A devs are already making a massive profit on the base games.
 
 
 
Posted by kentnz
On Friday 13 Oct 2017 11:11 PM
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I don't really play multi-player games, or only play with real life friends who don't cheat.
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Saturday 14 Oct 2017 7:32 AM
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13 October 2017, 09:16 PM Reply to ChieftaiNZ
The idea you suggest, the raising the price of the games to account for inflation, is a lie. Jim Stirling did a video on it recently called 'The Sixty Dollar Lie'.

They don't need micro transactions, as these Triple A devs are already making a massive profit on the base games.
Rewatch it.

He says it's a lie because microtransactions, DLC etc exist which means games cost more than the base price.

So.my suggestion of having a non microtransactions copy for an extra 20 fits that.
 
 
 
Posted by mchumdinghy
On Saturday 14 Oct 2017 10:06 AM
1
I would rather games be more expensive and then we just get the game; no extras, no microtransactions or DLC, just the game in it's entirety that we paid for.
 
 
 
Posted by Ranger
On Saturday 14 Oct 2017 10:08 AM
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The 'game shops' have a right to make money just like any other business and if players get enjoyment from playing those games then all good. Microtransaction's is just another revenue stream, but like others have said we don't want to go down the path of 'the person with the most money wins' scenario. I don't mind paying for expansions and the like, as I see it as a way to keep the game I enjoy alive, But I also want value for money. If the development 'houses'' can deliver on that, then that works. Otherwise players will just see the word 'greedy'. Giving us more for less, works. If we get more for less the game lives, if we get less for more, game over!
 
 
 
Posted by cortez72
On Saturday 14 Oct 2017 11:02 AM
2
13 October 2017, 06:25 PM Reply to vanke499
I think microtransactions have a place in gaming, it gives the publisher more revenue to add content and update which improves and lengthens the life cycle of great games. What I don't agree with is when micro transactions give players an unfair advantage over others in PvP situations, this leads to paytoplay gamers dominating.
Trouble is micro transactions don’t lengthen the experience, they just alter it. DLC can lengthen the experience, but how can you be sure your not just getting the original experience before they chopped it up? Your dead on about PvP.

Micro transactions are just cheat codes you pay for. Even in the realm of cosmetic. We used to invest time to access these things in game but they just sell them now.

I wrote a blog once about how if Sonic the Hedgehog was a brand new title released in the modern environment, you’d get super sonic as a pre-order bonus and Tails would be DLC. Well in the world of micro transaction you’d be able to buy boxes which gave you a chance at getting a chaos emerald, and there would be no ‘speed booster’ icons in the game, you’d buy speed boosts to use in game on a timer.

Just because you CAN monitise the content, doesn’t mean you should. While other modern business practices encourage packing goods into more convenient combo’s to win the consumer, games developers are actively finding way to inconvenience the player into paying for a more comfortable experience.

Part of the leverage in game design is that if you have a hot piece of intellectual property, you already have exclusivity. Want to play Star Wars? We’re the only ones who have it like this! Unlike the regular consumer market: I can buy these kiwi fruit for this picnic, or I can buy the competition brand who have a kiwi fruit spoon-knife at a competitive price. Games seldom compete with other titles anymore outside of war era shooters and car games. But even then, if the platform is good enough they become more bold with introducing mechanics like micro transactions. The evolution of Forza for example, you can track the success of the franchise with the inclusion of more and more after point-of-sale content in each successive title.

Sorry, that was a long one. You can tell I’m very passionate about preserving the gaming experience I love.
 
 
 
Posted by emetic
On Saturday 14 Oct 2017 7:09 PM
1
I don't mind that micro$ exist; games are a product sold to a market. I just think they ruin otherwise good games though,
The devs and publishers have to balance the sellout micro$ commercial factor vs. the creativity they want with their product, just like with music or movies or any similar art-entertainment product.

Tbh I don't quite know the details of how loot boxes work but my prejudiced attitude is that i wouldn't pay for a game that features them.
 
 
 
Posted by Yofunk
On Monday 16 Oct 2017 7:26 AM
1
having loot boxes affect game play basically turns the game into a pay 2 win. keep it simple like with DOTA 2 and release battle passes with rewards for achievement. Love getting new skins for the different heroes.
 
 
 
Posted by joshdrought
On Thursday 19 Oct 2017 6:18 AM
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Too many games take advantage of microtransactions