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Microtransactions

Gran Turismo 6 credits photo
Gran Turismo 6 credits

Sony confirms micro-transactions for Gran Turismo 6


Buy cars and parts with cash
Nov 19
// Joshua Derocher
Sony was really excited to show off its new "in-game credits" for Gran Turismo 6 in a recent blog post. These credits "will be purchasable through PS Store or your friendly local retailer". It's a system of made up curre...
Pokemon photo
Pokemon

Selling Pokemon as DLC could ruin the series' worldview


Gotta buy 'em all?
Oct 22
// Jordan Devore
In a 4Gamer interview with Pokémon art director Ken Sugimori and director Tetsuya Watanabe translated by Siliconera, the topic of premium DLC came up. It doesn't take much effort to imagine how, in the right (wrong?) h...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Enhanced Bravely Default getting microtransactions


Enhanced In-Square-ogation
Oct 22
// Steven Hansen
Bravely Default is coming to the United States next year, the UK on December 6. Not only that, but we will be getting an enhanced version of the original game, Bravely Default: For the Sequel. They even managed to make the na...
GTA Online photo
Avoid them, if you want
The fact that Grand Theft Auto Online has microtransactions -- which Rockstar has come out to confirm today -- bothered some people far more than I would've expected. Considering how ambitious the base multiplayer experience ...

GTA microtransactions photo
GTA microtransactions

Grand Theft Auto Online may have microtransactions


Grand Theft MONEY
Sep 25
// Steven Hansen
Some sleuthing by a Redditor trawling through Grand Theft Auto V's warm, numerical entrails has revealed files pointing to something called "cash cards" of various denominations ($100,000 up to $1.25 million). There is also t...
Star Citizen photo
Star Citizen

Star Citizen has now raised $17 million in funding


Fans have raised doubts over a microtransaction-based store
Sep 03
// Alasdair Duncan
It seems that after its initial crowdfunding success, there's no stopping Star Citizen. Chris Roberts' super-ambitious space sim just hit the $17 million mark and now there's stretch goals for $19 million. However, fans have ...
MS Points are gone photo
MS Points are gone

It only took 8 years: Microsoft Points are finally gone


Goodbye, obnoxious made up currency
Aug 26
// Darren Nakamura
The long and storied history of Microsoft's invented Xbox Live currency MS Points has finally come to a close. Despite standing by the system as recently as last October, an update today has phased out what the community has ...
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Ryse will have multiplayer microtransactions


Just more reasons to pass on this one
Aug 22
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
[Update: Microsoft has released a statement addressing exactly how microtransactions will work in Ryse. “The progression system in ‘Ryse: Son of Rome’s’ cooperative multiplayer experience offers player...
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Jimquisition: Fee to Pay


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Jul 29
// Jim Sterling
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 ...
WoW in-game store photo
Asian regions will get the in-game store first
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 admit...

WoW microtransactions photo
WoW microtransactions

Blizzard exploring in-game store for World of Warcraft


In certain unnamed regions
Jul 04
// Jordan Devore
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...
Curiosity photo
Curiosity

Curiosity goes a bit mad with new in-app purchases


A 'war of attrition' will ensue, hopes Molyneux
Apr 19
// Jordan Devore
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,...
XCOM photo
XCOM

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


'I'm not sure I would be able to sleep at night'
Apr 09
// Jordan Devore
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...
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Ridiculous Fishing dev thinks free-to-play is mostly evil


'Almost impossible' to do microtransactions in a good way
Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
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...

Microtransactions coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Mar 12 // Jim Sterling
As our own Chris Carter pointed out, the extra loadout slots could have a minor effect on gameplay, since players would be able to tailor any number of characters for any given situation and switch them out on the fly, giving them a more nuanced advantage. A small point maybe, but one the hardest of the core may consider. On the whole, this isn't terribly bad, and I'll give Activision its props for being one of the few big publishers to remain evil in good old fashioned ways rather than bite fully into some of the newer, more insidious ideas of the past few years. Nevertheless, this is a glimpse of an upcoming generation filled with more online requirements and microtransaction leanings than ever before, and I can't say it fills me with glee.  The suspense is terrible ... I hope it'll last.
Microtransactions photo
Fee-to-pay extra coming tomorrow
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 ...

EA photo
EA

EA now says not all games will have microtransactions


EA's Blake Jorgensen backtracks on recent statements
Mar 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
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...
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Real Racing 3 infuriates with $500 of microtransactions


Oh dear me
Mar 01
// Jim Sterling
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...

On Cliffy B, microtransactions, and Electronic Arts

Mar 01 // Jim Sterling
"Making money and running a business is not inherently evil. It creates jobs and growth and puts food on the table. This country was built on entrepreneurship. Yes, there are obvious issues around basic business ethics (Google “Pinto Fires”) and the need for a company to give back to its’ community, but that’s not what this blog is about right now." On this point, Bleszinski is perfectly correct. Making money is not inherently evil. It is not, however, inherently good either. The argument that companies exist to make money is brought up by many people when a company is criticized, but making money is not a noble enough endeavor to render it immune to criticism. This is an argument I've already made in a video on the subject, but the short story is, yes, a company might be out to make money -- but I think we all have a right to express disapproval at the way a company goes about making it.  For Bleszinski, that disapproval can only come in the form of your purchasing habits.  "If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games," he said. "If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple. EA has many smart people working for them (Hi, Frank, JR, and Patrick!) and they wouldn’t attempt these things if they didn’t work. Turns out, they do. I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behavior over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash. "... Every single developer out there is trying to solve the mystery of this new model. Every console game MUST have a steady stream of DLC because, otherwise, guess what? It becomes traded in, or it’s just rented. In the console space you need to do anything to make sure that that disc stays in the tray." He adds that the "fee-to-pay" model is currently working, therefore it's justified. I have issues with this -- firstly, I think exploiting things excessively because they currently work is a terribly short-sighted game plan, and exactly the kind of behavior that leads to market crashes. Yes, mainstream consumers might be happy to throw wads of extra cash at EA right now, but for how long will they do this? Consumers are just as likely to abruptly cease their support as they are blindly give it, and what will companies have to fall back on?  A publisher making games more expensive by adding piles of downloadable content and microtransactions reeks of a dying magazine raising its prices to excessive degrees to counter its growing irrelevance. It might get away with it for a while, but long-term, it doesn't make sense to become more expensive as newer and fresher alternatives compete for a consumer's attention.  Rather, there are fundamental issues with console game development that need to be addressed. Clearly, assigning 600 workers to a game, spending millions on it, and investing so much that five million sales is deemed a failure just isn't working. Publishers are presented as having no choice, as being the victim of a changing market, but they're not adapting or evolving. They're trying to bend the rules of the new game to play the one they're used to. It's the kind of stagnant attitude that leads to destruction -- something that could kill the jobs of a lot of talented people and, as we've already seen with THQ, throw quality IP into potential ruin.  Bleszinski's points are absolutely compelling, as have been the points of basically every game journalist I've argued with about Electronic Arts this week. There's been a lot of defense for the company, and that's fair enough. So far all the arguments are rooted in the now, however, and that's my problem. I don't believe the "we make money now, there's no problem" attitude is the right one to have, especially in a console market so tumultuous and at risk of falling apart. A crash is looking set to happen, if it's not happened already, and the companies with an eye on the future, not the ones scrabbling to make money immediately, are the ones I feel are going to succeed.  As far as calling for people to stop being angry, I just don't agree. When people think of games they care about being twisted to suit the psychological warfare that is a "freemium" model, I believe they've every right to be unhappy, and should voice their disapproval. Even if they are a vocal minority, and even if EA doesn't give a shit, I defy anybody to see something they're passionate about get broken and not want to say something.  I mean, the people making EA memes on Reddit probably don't care about what Cliffy's got to say on their behavior, but he still said it! None of us are very good as just shutting up and ignoring things we don't like, and there's a lot to dislike in the mainstream game industry right now.
Microtransactions photo
'Companies exist to make money'
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 do...

Microtransactions photo
Microtransactions

Cliff Bleszinski defends microtransactions


'Don't like it? Don't play it.'
Feb 28
// Jordan Devore
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...
EA micro-transactions photo
EA micro-transactions

EA plans a future of micro-transactions (Update)


Customers apparently 'embracing' EA's shakedown
Feb 27
// Jim Sterling
[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...

Why an indie chose free DLC instead of microtransactions

Feb 13 // Allistair Pinsof
Free DLC is uncommon, these days, but a free expansion of this breadth makes Torn Banner look like videogame Mother Teresa next to triple-AAA DLC's Stalin and the iOS market's Chairman Mao. So far, it's been working with Chivalry winning new fans through free weekends and expansions, making the title one of the biggest Kickstarter successes. "You need to balance that stuff out. If you day one DLC people, they feel lied to and mistreated. We want people to be pumped up," Piggot said, "we worked four months to do that thing, that would have made more money if we charged for it, but we are investing in the long term by investing in our fans." In the coming days, I'll be posting my full interview with Piggot where he discusses his thoughts on Dead Space 3's microtransactions, going from mod team to development studio, and the future of Torn Banner and Chivalry. Spoilers: He's an alright guy.
Why offer free DLC? photo
"We are investing in the long term by investing in our fans."
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...

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Jimquisition: Companies Exist to Make Money


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Feb 11
// Jim Sterling
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.
Dead Space 3 thievery photo
Dead Space 3 thievery

Attorney: Dead Space 3 resource exploit might be theft


IP expert likens resource farming to stealing
Feb 11
// Kyle MacGregor
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...
Dead Space 3 glitch photo
Dead Space 3 glitch

EA: Dead Space 3 microtransaction workaround not a glitch


Publisher claims exploit was intentional
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
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...
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Dead Space 3 microtransaction/DLC prices revealed


PlayStation Store updates with all the details
Jan 29
// Jim Sterling
In today's PlayStation Store update, Sony revealed the details on Dead Space 3's controversial microtransactions and downloadable content, spilling the beans on what you'll be able to buy and how much it'll set you back....
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Jimquisition: Breaking the Bones of Business


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Jan 28
// Jim Sterling
A new business model comes along, designed to attract gamers with interesting ideas and consumer-friendly pricing. The old businesses latch onto it. The old businesses pervert it to suit their own miserable ends. Free-to-pla...
Fee-to-Pay photo
Fee-to-Pay

Fee-to-Pay, a new name for a hot new business model!


We crown a term for microtransactions in full-priced games
Jan 27
// Jim Sterling
In the wake of Dead Space 3 getting microtransactions, one thing that's been lingering in the minds of gamers is the question of what we call this new and growing business model. Dead Space 3 is one of several retail games ad...

Dead Space 3 has microtransactions because mobile gamers

Jan 25 // Jim Sterling
Of course, Visceral is still stressing that micro -- sorry, in-app purchases -- are totally optional.  "There’s also the hardcore Dead Space players, who are reluctant to spend money outside the purchase of the game. Honestly, most of the dev team are that way, we’re kind of old school, a little bit older. So not only are the micro-transactions completely optional, but all packs are available to purchase using in-game resources that you find. "So, your scavenger bot will go out, and sometimes when he comes back he’ll deliver ration seals. You’ll start to accumulate ration seals at a pretty steady clip throughout the game, and everything that can be purchased with real world dollars can also be purchased with ration seals." On the surface, that sounds reasonable, but I refuse to think of microtransactions as an optional feature when the game constantly reminds you about them. It might be optional to take Dead Space 3 up on its offer, but it's not optional to have the offer constantly there, trying to demolish the game's atmosphere by reminding you you're playing a videogame, and it's a videogame that'd really like more money. It's not optional to have a game drag out the accumulation time of resources, hoping you'll get impatient enough to drop some cash. Microtransactions work by attempting to psychologically beat the consumer. The system is adversarial, it tries to hold out longer than the player, who likewise is attempting to see if he or she can resist until the game absolutely has to give up the goods. You can't just choose to brush past that.  Dead Space 3's entire currency and weapon system has been dramatically altered, now cynically designed to support its own little economy, and that wasn't an option. I'm currently playing the game for review and I'm bound to an embargo, so I can't say much. All I will say is that this particular topic of discussion is not on my list of favorite things about the game.  Interview: Dead Space 3 producer on micro-transactions and keeping the horror alive [CVG]
Dead Space 3 photo
Visceral reads from the Big Book of Not Making Sense
Visceral Games has justified the controversial microtransaction system in Dead Space 3 by claiming mobile gamers expect them now. Well, that's a totally reasonable ... wait, what? "There’s a lot of players out there, es...

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Dead Space 3 crafting system includes microtransactions


Watch as $60 games push the not-free-to-play model
Jan 22
// Jim Sterling
Dead Space 3 is going to see a fair few changes, boasting a faster pace, cover-based shooting, and a weapon crafting system. While I'm not a big fan of some of the alterations, the one thing I did find praiseworthy was that l...

Review: Final Fantasy All the Bravest

Jan 13 // Jim Sterling
Final Fantasy All the Bravest (iOS)Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixReleased: January 17, 2013MSRP: $3.99, $3.99, $3.99, $3.99, $1.99, $2.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99, $0.99 Final Fantasy All the Bravest promises the return of the Active Time Battle system, boasts combat parties of up to forty heroes plucked from the series' history, and seduces fans with its nostalgic graphics and music. All the Bravest is not, however, the reminiscent tour de force it could have been. It is, instead, an exercise in providing as little entertainment as possible for the maximum financial return. It is an idea of a videogame, expecting money from consumers in exchange for memories they could have had by watching YouTube videos. Gameplay is practically non-existent, the software merely a conduit through which you directly deposit your dollars into Square Enix's bank account. It's a service that you both work for and pay for, while the company in charge does nothing but rake in the loot.  The game is essentially a series of "battles" in which all you need to do is wipe your finger across the screen. Swiping or tapping on a party member causes it to launch an attack, after which a timer appears above its head to indicate when it can attack again. To win a battle, you rub furiously at the screen until the monsters are dead, then move onto the next fight. No thought required, no strategy, no alternative methods of attack. You rub, rinse, and repeat, until everything is dead. Along the way, you level up, gain items to boost attacks, acquire new heroes, and earn Gil, but everything is handled automatically, allowing you to continue rubbing with brainless abandon. [embed]242519:46378[/embed] Every three hours (in real-time), you can activate a "Fever" mode which eliminates the "Active Time" portion of the battle and allows characters to attack freely. This equates to more rubbing, requiring no extra thought or impetus from the player.  That, literally, is Final Fantasy All the Bravest. That is the gameplay, described in its entirety. You smear your hand across your iOS device's screen until you hear the victory theme, then do it again. And again. And again. And again. Square Enix honestly could have eliminated the swiping process to make characters attack automatically, and it would have equated to the same experience, albeit with less wrist strain. Something is wrong when you could remove any form of player input without it negatively impacting your game.  Of course, All the Bravest does not exist to be played. That's not the goal. The goal is for its publisher to make more money beyond the $3.99 asking price. You see, in order to get a party that will decently stand up to the game's boss monsters, you're expected to spend more real-world cash to acquire powerful heroes. Spending $0.99 allows you to summon a famous hero from the Final Fantasy series, selected at random. This hero will then join the party and launch attacks the same way as any other character. Being randomized, players looking for a particular character will need to spend anywhere up to 35 dollars in order to get the right one.  Everything in the game is carefully designed to pressure you into buying things. The boss "difficulty" spikes are used to convince you that you really need a new hero. The inability to directly control the battle places the emphasis on purchasing more power rather than developing skills or tactics to surpass an obstacle. When you die, your party revives by one character every three minutes, in a bid to bore you into purchasing an instant-revival item. Despite being sold on nostalgia, the truly memorable Final Fantasy content is locked behind expansion packs, each costing a further $3.99. Make no mistake -- Final Fantasy All the Bravest did not come about through lazy design. While the mindless battles may look like the result of a total lack of effort, it was a coldly calculated, meticulously developed system crafted to draw out your wallet. It's as intricately designed a game as any other Final Fantasy installment -- the design simply wasn't used to enhance the gameplay this time around.  In a way, I'm almost impressed. This is a game that you don't really play while it demands money for no good reason. The nerve, the sheer rotten gall of that is almost laudable. Despicable, intellectually offensive, and grotesque, most certainly -- but still deviously magnificent. What really hammers it home is the fact that, during the course of the game, you acquire masses and masses of Gil -- in-game currency that has absolutely no in-game use. It's almost as if Square Enix is gleefully mocking its users by showering them with useless coins as it vacuums up the real ones. Final Fantasy All the Bravest is not really a game. It's a cash delivery system, with you playing as the courier, your money the cargo, and Square Enix the unpaying recipient. After years of trying to monetize videogames, Square Enix has now moved on to monetizing customers themselves. It's cut out the irritating middle man that is the videogame, and found a way to simply get people to hand over money in exchange for nothing. That is what All the Bravest is. It's nothing. It's air. It's a thought. You're buying a concept in order to keep buying concepts.  Final Fantasy All the Bravest is fucking disgusting.
All the Bravest reviewed! photo
All the Basest
Final Fantasy is close to being the Star Wars of the videogame industry, and not in a positive way. Square Enix, the George Lucas of this particularly scenario, has done a fine job exploiting its brand to almost damaging prop...







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