The video game industry has been taking on a few business models over the past couple of years, but one of which that they particularly seem to enjoy is the practice of microtransactions and DLC. Gamers across the globe seem to call out how much they dislike the pay-to-win transactions, but if we were not paying for them, then the practice would die out. So what makes these transactions stick around and what’s the difference with microtransactions vs DLC?
Micotransactions are a business model where users can purchase the equivalent of a birthday party favor bag except in virtual form. You showed up to the party, played the game and did just about everything one could possibly do, but the developers don’t want you to stop playing yet. Microtransactions are often used in conjunction with game sales to provide an source of additional revenue for the developers of the game While sixty dollars for a game like Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a great price to pay for the amount of hours you get out of them, it is unacceptable for a game like The Order: 1886 to come along and ask the same price for five hours worth of content.
“Microtransactions tend to get a sort of negative connotation in the games industry, if you remember back to the day, people bristled when they sold horse armor it’s something that has always happened. But if it’s good enough content and you want to pay for it, why not pay for it? That’s what it comes down to,” said Eric Monacelli an Ex-Naughty Dog Developer for Uncharted 4’ Multiplayer. “A clear-cut example of that is the burst rifle is The Last of Us. A lot of people thought ‘Why are they charging for guns?’ We did the research and noticed that a lot of players were having trouble jumping into the game for the first time, so we wanted to give people a weapon that was easily accessible and would give them a bit of a leg-up.” It can be argued that just because it is something that has always happened doesn’t mean that it should happen. Gamers are investing their time and money into these games just as much as developers are investing their time and money into them. With the budget of modern video games ballooning, it is hard not to see why developers try to sneak in microtransactions for things such as weapons that could have easily been unlockables instead of asking for real world money for them. But either way, game developers are not the ones being hit with work/reward imbalance: the movie industry faces the same issue between how much it coast to make the project and then how much it coast to sell it to the public to make a profit. The difference is that filmmakers don’t turn around and cut out clips of the movie for an additional cost or withhold end credit scenes from Marvel movies for $9.99.
“There are hot debates around this all the time in the office, because everybody’s got their own opinion. For me, the more thought that’s put into DLC, the more you should be able to charge for it, because it’s one of those things where you’re creating another game unto itself – The Last of Us: Left Behind was another game. It’s essentially the second Last of Us game, right? It’s work, and you should pay for good work,” continued Monacelli. Although, it is highly agreeable that players should pay for DLC such as The Last Of Us: Left Behind, which in itself is truly another game, additional content such as a shotgun in multiplayer that was taken out of the final product for the soul purpose of selling it back to the consumer later on is not. DLC such as Left Behind should be an additional cost yes, that’s not the problem. The problem lies with microtransactions for content such as weapons. The best example of how a game should go about its additional microtranasction content is CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Witcher had release tons of free microtransations that they could have easily slapped a meager price tag to them, but instead CD Projekt Red allowed their additional content such as Costumes, Armor, Weapons, side-quest and treasure hunts to be accessible to users for free. When it came to their expansion pack or “DLC,” it retailed on the digital markets for $9.999 and if players wanted to purchase Hearts of Stone physically, they were only charged an additional $9.99.
The next story add-on will be Blood and Wine and will retail for $19.99, but the point here is that when it came to frugal costumes, CD Projekt Red didn’t try to nickel and dime their players for skins and new armor, instead giving them away for free as they’re essentially worthless. When they were telling new standalone stories, adding onto the already impressive size of the world map and giving players an additional thirty more hours to gameplay, only then did they decided to charge them for it. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt does microtransactions and DLC add-ons right and other game developers should take notes on their business practice. If a developer is making worthwhile additions to their games, then by all means sell them to us, instead of saying “here’s a new skin and weapon’s pack for $24.99.”