Micro Transactions in Single Player Games Are The Next “Season Pass” But Worse

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Yup, you read that right.  Micro transactions in single player games are the next fad, the newest iteration of the darker and more greedy side of gaming, just like seasons passes were (and still are).  They were a way to generate even more money in addition to the cost of a full priced game, and sometimes offered very little, if any substantial content to the experience.  Plus, there is usually no clear indication what you were getting in most cases until the game was close to release or already available for purchase in stores.  They were a cheap and shady way to get money for content that was even cut from some games.  Other cases saw high-profile games, like Destiny, release content that, while satisfying, was way too short for its price (you can also buy loot boxes in that game as well, if you feel like you haven’t spent enough on the five expansions and base game like me). In a way, micro transactions in single player games are becoming even more sinister than season passes, and here are some examples to back up my claim.

Dead Space 3 – Released February 5th, 2013

Developer – Visceral Games

Publisher – EA

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This one kills me, because it is one of the first ones to have micros transactions in a single player experience and it is one of my favorite franchises.  Even though Dead Space 3 had some disappointing aspects compared to the first two, it was still generally considered a solid game.  The coop was fantastic, especially since you were able to experience some areas differently depending on which character you were (Isaac or Carver).  The game play was also still solid, even if it did feel more like Resident Evil 5 than a Dead Space game at times.  That’s where my compliments end, and the criticism comes out.

For the first and only time in the series, you could make your own weapons with components you found in breakable boxes and hidden areas.  These crafting materials have ratings, from common to epic, and are designed to improve the weapon you are creating by giving it better statistics or additional attributes.  The problem?  You could just simply purchase a loot box, get an epic weapon, and wreck every enemy in the game.  That completely defeats the purpose of Dead Space games, which originally gave you that sense of dread and fear that you are always running low on ammo and an enemy could ambush you from anywhere.  Not with these epic weapons they won’t!  Even though I enjoyed the core experience, I didn’t approve of these changes and hope they never incorporate them into a future Dead Space game.  P.S. Please make another Dead Space game!

Injustice 2 – Released May 11, 2017

Developer – Nether Realm Studios

Publisher – Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

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Here is where the problem begins to manifest.  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, known for publishing the Shadow of Mordor, also published the sequel to super hero fighting game Injustice, called simply Injustice 2, on May 11th 2017.  The introduction of micro transactions were met with cautious skepticism, since this is a fighting game with a single player campaign and multiplayer modes as well.  The purchasable loot boxes contain gear for random characters, that can be better or worse than their currently equipped gear.  They are also locked to a level restriction, but that can be changed by using one of the multiple currencies in the game to change it. Instead of criticizing it for having too many currencies, I am going to focus solely on the loot boxes.

I understand that the loot is disabled for some multiplayer modes.  I commend Nether Realm for implementing that in their game. It needed to have that, or else the multiplayer mode would be unbalanced and absolutely unfair for players not forfeiting their hard earned money. Thankfully, that isn’t what this concern is about. It is about having to spend real money in order to get better gear for characters, only for the gear to drop for characters you don’t even use. I never used Bane, and yet I ended up with a ton of gear for him since that is what dropped from the loot boxes. Don’t like what you get? Well why don’t you spend MORE money to get something better. But wait, better hope it’s for a character you like, because if not it will just get disassembled into more currency to spend on the next (usually) drop of garbage gear for characters I never used in the game.

Shadow of War – Releases October 10, 2017

Developer – Monolith Studios

Publisher –  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

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Are you seeing a pattern yet? I sure hope so, because it sure is clear to me.  Shadow of War, developed by Monolith Productions and the sequel to the 2014 Game of the Year Shadow of Mordor made by the same studio, is releasing on October 10th, 2017. Originally slated for an August release, it was delayed two months before its release and scheduled for the new date in October. It is easy to overlook this delay as polishing, but I strongly believe it was due to the inclusion of micros transactions. A game published by WB Interactive in 2017 has micro transactions in it? No! It cannot be true! The dark lord Sauron must be the head of WB Interactive to make such a henious decision.

Seriously, another single player game with micro transactions in it, and it by the same publisher as Injustice 2, and released the same year just months apart. That’s not a coincidence. To me, this game doesn’t need the addition of micro transactions to catch my attention. The original did that by having fantastic game play and a serviceable story. It was, by all measures, a great game. Did everyone like it? No, and that’s okay. That doesn’t take away from how good of a game it was. The balancing between your character’s abilities and your enemies always felt fair, with a gradual learning curve and satisfying progression throughout the experience.

Shadow of War, which should now be named Shadow of Give Us More Money, has loot boxes and two different currencies.  One seems like a dummy currency: you earn it but can’t spend it on loot boxes. The other one, called gold (really…gold is the best they could come up with) is the premium currency and is dropped sparingly throughout the game and is used to purchase said loot boxes. The boxes come with three rarities, and can include minions for the multiplayer mode similar to Metal Gear Solid V’s base building mode, or additional weapons and XP boosts. Sounds invasive but not game breaking yet right? Think about this: will the game be balanced to take into consideration that a few whales might drop a couple thousand on loot boxes and just stomp out your base and make your gaming experience miserable? My guess is probably not. Making a single player game literally pay-to-win isn’t fun, and spending 40 plus hours to unlock a legendary weapon or Orc you could get by spending $20.00 on loot boxes sounds like a pretty terrible way to play a game.

It seems that the choice to add these loot boxes into the game came from the publisher. Even still, it is Monolith’s decision to sign with that publisher in the first place, knowing full well that it might mean altering their game to fit the publisher’s greedy and slimy desires. They want to make money, lots and lots of it, even if it means potentially ruining what could be a fantastic video game in the process. I don’t excuse Monolith, but I don’t completely blame them. However, their reaction and body language in a recent live stream that explained and demonstrated the extent of loot boxes does concern me.

To conclude, WB Interactive is like a skid mark in my underwear: it’s ugly and hard to clean the stain out of them. They aren’t doing the gaming industry any favors, and I would be more than pleased to see them cut this crap out of having micro transactions in single player games before it gets even more out of hand than it already is. They prey on gamers who have a tendency to gamble, or flat out take advantage of those unable to control their spending. That’s disgusting, and we need to tell them how we feel by speaking with our wallets.

What games do you think should have been on this list?  Do you agree with my opinion, or think I am a doomsayer and losing my mind?  Let me know in the comments!

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