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3:15 PM on 07.29.2013

Jimquisition: Fee to Pay

It's time to talk about why "optional" microtransactions in games aren't really optional, and why they're especially gruesome in games we already paid for at retail. The rise of "free to play" elements in games that are not ...

Jim Sterling



Blizzard talks about World of Warcraft microtransactions photo
Blizzard talks about World of Warcraft microtransactions
by Jordan Devore

When Blizzard said it was exploring potentially adding microtransactions to World of Warcraft in "certain regions," speculation quickly pointed to that being code for "Asia." Good job, everyone who suggested that! After admitting that "we're still pretty early in the exploration process," the company has given more context for the in-game store.

"We think everyone would appreciate the convenience of being able to make such purchases without having to leave the game, and ultimately that's our long-term goal for the system, though there's quite a bit of work involved in retrofitting those existing items into the new system," wrote a Blizzard community manager.

"First, we'll be testing the in-game store with some new kinds of items we're looking into introducing (in Asian regions, at the outset) based on player feedback: specifically, an experience buff to assist with the leveling process, as well as an alternate way to acquire Lesser Charms of Good Fortune. We've had a lot of requests from players in different regions for convenience-oriented items such as these, and as with other new ideas we've introduced as WoW has evolved -- including Pet Store pets, mounts, and more -- your feedback plays a hugely important part in determining what we add to the game."

Experience? Doesn't bother me. Those Lesser Charms of Good Fortune, however, could be an issue for some players who fear the in-game store will lead to an eventual pay-to-win scenario. "Ultimately it's still too early in the process to make any final determinations about our plans," Blizzard continued, "but in the meantime, we hope you'll check out the in-game store once it's implemented on the PTR and let us know what you think."

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3:00 PM on 07.04.2013

Blizzard exploring in-game store for World of Warcraft

A "100% XP Buff" item that references the "5.4 In Game Store" was discovered on the World of Warcraft Public Test Realm, prompting players to ask Blizzard what the deal is on the forums. "We are currently exploring the possib...

Jordan Devore

1:45 PM on 04.19.2013

Curiosity goes a bit mad with new in-app purchases

I had long since deleted Curiosity from my iPhone after spending admittedly far too much time (see: more than five minutes) tinkering with the cooperative game about chipping away layers of a massive cube. But now, here I am,...

Jordan Devore

3:30 PM on 04.09.2013

XCOM: EU for iOS won't go overboard with in-app purchases

Considering the game's unforgiving difficulty and meaningful character losses, it's all too easy to imagine a mobile version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown that runs wild with microtransactions in a hugely successful way. Thankf...

Jordan Devore

10:30 AM on 03.18.2013

Ridiculous Fishing dev thinks free-to-play is mostly evil

Ridiculous Fishing is a game that looks ripe for microtransaction exploitation, but developer Vlambeer has opted instead to charge a flat $2.99 and let the chips fall where they may. The studio's belief that free-to-play mode...

Jim Sterling







Microtransactions coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops II photo
Microtransactions coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops II
by Jim Sterling

If you were worried fee-to-pay microtransactions were going to become the norm ... prepare to be justified. Activision has announced it'll be jumping aboard the bandwagon tomorrow, introducing incremental buy-me-ups for Call of Duty: Black Ops II

The publisher promises its "Micro Items" won't affect gameplay and, in fairness, this appears to be true for the most part. Here are the three things players will be able to purchase as of tomorrow:

  • Personalization Pack: Each pack as a unique weapon camo, three targeting reticles, custom calling card. $2.00/160 MS Points. 
  • Extra Slots Pack: 10 extra Create-a-Class loadout slots, plus room for 20 more emblems, 32 films, and 40 screenshots. $2.00/160 MS Points.
  • Flags of the World Calling Card Pack: National flag themed calling cards. $1.00/80 MS Points.

The "Micro Items" will be coming to the Xbox 360, with a release on other systems unconfirmed.

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12:00 PM on 03.06.2013

EA now says not all games will have microtransactions

Electronic Arts was in hot water recently on their views of microtranscations coming to everything they do in the future. Well the company looks to be backtracking a bit as EA's CFO Blake Jorgensen clarified what they meant a...

Hamza CTZ Aziz

1:30 PM on 03.01.2013

Real Racing 3 infuriates with $500 of microtransactions

While I really don't think there's anything inherently wrong with free-to-play games, they can definitely be problematic -- especially when a developer places the mental pummeling of customers above gratifying gamep...

Jim Sterling



On Cliffy B, microtransactions, and Electronic Arts photo
On Cliffy B, microtransactions, and Electronic Arts
by Jim Sterling

As we noted yesterday, former Epic man Cliff Bleszinski took some time to defend the controversial use of microtransactions in retail games, sticking up for it on the basis that companies exist to make money. I rarely turn down an opportunity to have a debate on these matters, so let's offer a respectful disagreement. 

"The video game industry is just that. An industry," he wrote on his blog. "Which means that it exists in a capitalistic world. You know, a free market. A place where you’re welcome to spend your money on whatever you please … or to refrain from spending that money.

"I’ve seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They’re a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are 'nickel and diming them.' They’re raging at 'big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money.' I’m going to come right out and say it. I’m tired of EA being seen as 'the bad guy.' I think it’s bullshit that EA has the 'scumbag EA' memes on Reddit and that Good Guy Valve can Do No Wrong."

I think I've got a tiny violin somewhere, I'll hunt it down and play EA a tune! Seriously though, I don't think EA's being bullied without cause. The company managed to acquire many talented studios and a lot of great intellectual property. When you cultivate a passionate fanbase, then try to trade that passion in for money, I think you should expect a backlash. That's what's happening here.

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8:30 PM on 02.28.2013

Cliff Bleszinski defends microtransactions

Designer Cliff Bleszinski has shared his thoughts on the microtransactions and the backlash they receive, arguing that game companies exist to make money and if people don't like them or their practices, they can vote with th...

Jordan Devore

8:00 AM on 02.27.2013

EA plans a future of micro-transactions (Update)

[Update: According to TheSixthAxis, EA's CFO "misspoke" on the subject of game prices, and is actually expecting games to cost between $49 and $59, rather than the $69 he original talked about. Don't worry, they can always ma...

Jim Sterling

6:00 PM on 02.13.2013

Why an indie chose free DLC instead of microtransactions

Why would a developer offer a free 1.6GB expansion pack to its game? Steve Piggot, Torn Banner president and lead designer of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, asks why not? "For us, our primary goal -- and I know people say this a...

Allistair Pinsof

3:00 PM on 02.11.2013

Jimquisition: Companies Exist to Make Money

Jimquisition's had it wrong all this time. Videogame companies exist to make money, so it was foolish to ever suggest their anti-consumer policies are awful, reckless, and deserving of criticism. That was all sarcasm, just then.

Jim Sterling

12:45 PM on 02.11.2013

Attorney: Dead Space 3 resource exploit might be theft

Dead Space 3 features an exploit which allows players to circumvent the game's microtransactions by acquiring infinitely spawning items. While Electronic Arts has no intention of removing the feature, an intellectual pro...

Kyle MacGregor

8:00 AM on 02.09.2013

EA: Dead Space 3 microtransaction workaround not a glitch

Electronic Arts claims that the infinite items exploit in Dead Space 3 is "not a glitch" and that the publisher has "no plans to issue a patch to change this aspect of the game." Responding to a Forbes inquiry, an EA represen...

Kyle MacGregor