The Bullshit Roundup: Microtransactions In Tomb Raider And Halo 5, Star Wars: Battlefront‘s $50 Season Pass

A lot of bullshit happens in the game industry and I get inundated with references to this bullshit whenever it does. People want to see a new Jimquisition video every time the latest “AAA” game has microtransactions or some garbage downloadable content.

The main problem is, my video series often already has episodes that apply entirely to whatever new scandal has occurred, meaning all I’d end up doing would be rewording a prior video with some names changes.

However, it IS important to call this trash out whenever it happens. Since I no longer post on a news blog, I thought it’d be fun to do a semi-regular feature that collects the latest nonsense from major publishers and presents them with scorn. I may be beating the proverbial dead horse every time I do one, but I say the horse is alive as long as companies continue acting like cocks.

Please enjoy our latest editorial adventure, The Bullshit Roundup!

01

Rise of the Tomb Raider to get microtransactions…

Microtransactions in so-called AAA games are nothing new, but the idea of them coming to a single-player focused game like Rise of the Tomb Raider is delectable example of just how prevalent the “fee to pay” concept has become. Yes, Square Enix is ramming freemium elements into its Tomb Raider sequel, allowing players the privilege to give it more money after already giving it some money.

Rise will try to flog users “Expedition Cards” used to craft in-game challenges for online play. These cards may be earned in-game, but if you want to avoid grinding for them, Square Enix has everso kindly granted us the ability to buy them for real-world cash. Full details have yet to be revealed, but I’m sure it’ll be a load of old bollocks.

This is, sadly, nothing new for the rebooted Tomb Raider series. The original game had $1 purchase options that let players upgrade Lara Croft’s abilities, as well as offer items for the game’s totally unwarranted online multiplayer mode. The fact it’s not new, however, does absolutely nothing to make it acceptable.

If you pay for a premium game, you should get a premium experience. Free-to-play elements have NO place in a $60 retail experience.

Especially a $60 retail experience that already has $30 DLC lined up.

Oh, and a $90 “deluxe” version of the game.

Really, Square Enix, will there ever be a point where you feel like you’ve fleeced enough money out of people?

02

Halo 5 gets microtransactions, developer attempts to defend them…

Halo 5: Guardians will be jumping aboard the bloodsucking train with some microtransactions of its own. As with all of these psychologically manipulative little schemes, the freemium elements can be earned in-game, making them nominally “optional” even though there’s no such thing as an optional fee-to-pay experience.

Microtransactions aren’t optional – they are always designed to be bought because no business creates a product it doesn’t want to sell. Hence, gameplay is always affected somehow, even if you never buy them. Something is done to try and tempt you, because that’s how freemium elements work.

Say it with me – even if you never make a single microtransactions, its presence in the game is never optional.

Halo 5 will sell “REQ” packs to its users. The REQ system is a series of rewards that players can unlock and use in online matches, but of course you can give Microsoft some cash in exchange for earlier unlocks. The silver REQ pack costs $2, while the gold one costs $3.

Kevin Franklin from 343 Industries defended the scheme in an interview with GameSpot, stressing the “optional” nature of the microtransactions.

“There’s no crazy special items that are only going to be reserved for people who spend a lot more money,” he claimed. “Also, you get a lot of rewards whether you’re playing Arena or Warzone, so you’re always going to have a ton of stuff that you’ll be able to use. The biggest thing for us the moment we started even talking about this system was that the game has to be balanced. At the end of the day, it’s a multiplayer game. It’s not a spend-more-to-win game. We wanted to make sure that if you spend a whole ton of money, and you thought you could get five Scorpions just because you spent more money, it’s not going to work. You’re still going to have to earn the right to call these Scorpions into the battlefield.”

We’ve heard this song-and-dance before, and it always undermines the very notion of fee-to-pay games. If your big selling point, your major justification, for using microtransactions is, “You don’t have to buy them,” then why the FUCK are you selling it? No company ever gets around to telling us why these microtransactions are GOOD. They always have to DEFEND them.

It says a lot that “no in-game purchases” has become a selling point in a lot of modern games.

If you’re constantly defending something every time you do it, without ever proving the merit of it, maybe you’ve done something fucking indefensible.

03

Star Wars: Battlefield… I mean, Battlefront, has a $50 season pass…

I need to remake the old Escapist episode I produced about season passes, but here’s the short story – they’re almost always a bad idea. They require you trusting AAA publishers – companies that have proven their untrustworthy nature dozens of times.

This is especially true of Electronic Arts, a company that has broken more promises than it has game studios.

Star Wars: Battlefront will be the latest game to have a season pass, and to get it alongside the game requires you almost paying double the price for a regular retail release. $50 will get you four planned expansion packs, as well as a two-week headstart on those expansions over anybody who opts to purchase them separately. You can pre-order the season pass right now, because the videogame industry is fucking ridiculous.

Given that we have all this content planned post-launch, and given that the base game looks like it’ll be somewhat lacking, we’re essentially looking at a game demanding $110 for the full experience.

You know, it’s funny – people often defend this shit by telling me that “games have to make their money back somehow,” but it always seems to be the safest bets, the games most guaranteed to make a ton of profit, that pull the slimiest moves. Do we really think a Star Wars game – one set to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens, no less – will struggle to make its money back? It’s cocking STAR WARS. 

Let’s be honest – this season pass does not exist because EA needs it to. It exists because it can get away with it. It exists because enough of us will fork that cash over gladly, throwing an investment atop an investment in pure blind faith. THAT is why Star Wars: Battlefront costs $110 for the full experience – because it’s Star Wars: Battlefront, and because it fucking can.

That is really the long and short of all these stories. It’s not about “need,” it’s about “want” and it’s about “we can do this.” The games that actually need extra ways to make money never have gauche DLC practices or microtransactions, because nobody would stand for it. They’re in the big name games, the top-tier titles, the ones that never needed to make their money back in the first place.

Because they can.

Simply because they can.

Mark Davenport
Guest

I want to like Halo 5, I really do.
But it’s like 343i doesn’t want me to like it.

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

I played some Final Fantasy IX music while reading, trying replicate your voice, tone and attitude when reading this. It was fun playing Jesters of the Moon but I didn’t know what the second one is nor did I use Beatrix’s theme, so I played Kuja’s Desert Palace theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te2Ku12YhXQ which fits the depressing nature of EA being EA again ‘cus fuck EA. If Square-Enix won’t ruin Final Fantasy XV with bad storytelling, then they’ll will with microtransactions… What am I saying! Square-Enix WILL have microtransactions anyway, regardless of the game’s quality, because it’s the big trend and lets them… Read more »

Roler42
Guest
Roler42

Garbage practises like this make me grateful for Steam sales and Humble bundles

Mark Patten
Guest
Mark Patten

99% of the time I try and buy first hand, but dodgy crap like this makes me think about just giving the guys at GameStop another gold plated boat.

“Electronic Arts, a company that has broken more promises than it has game studios.” I can just hear the; bu-dum tish.

Lance Snead
Guest
Lance Snead

I am so glad that I decided to completely skip this generation of gaming.

PowerSerg
Guest

Even if Microtransactions don’t work in X game putting them in the game costs them almost nothing except some bad PR that is countered by fanboys who now will buy it in spite of the people complaining. Worst case for them no one buys it and they still make their money. Then again they will have people who buy it be it people who defend the crap and feel the need to buy the stuff or kids who just happen to have access to money. Hell one of the biggest ways microtrasactions get you are simply as giftcard purchases. people… Read more »

Darth Yoda
Guest
Darth Yoda

“But the devs need to make their money back!”

If millions of people buying a $60 game isn’t enough to make your money back, maybe don’t go spending half a billion dollars just to make your game look shiny. I’d take Battlefront 2 over this new one, and that game’s graphics are, putting it politely, very noticeably from the PS2 era.

Besides, they’re just gonna release a “definitive” edition of Battlefront a year from now with all the DLC tacked on, and it’s still gonna be $60, so clearly they don’t NEED us to pay $110 for the full experience.

PowerSerg
Guest

Why do people even want to buy Halo 5 still. Every bit of news about this game is “Were charging extra for this” or “Were cutting this feature that has been in every other game”. Just buy any other halo game they have more things.

Gerudon
Guest
Gerudon

” It exists because it can get away with it. It exists because enough of us will fork that cash over gladly, throwing an investment atop an investment in pure blind faith.”

Exactly! The problem are the people that make this practices viable, not the companies. Companies will always try to make as much money as they can. The only reason they will stop with some scheme is because it leads to a backlash and ultimately to lower revenue because of the backlash. As long as earn money with stuff like mircotransactions, they won’t stop with it and why should they?

Eve Narlieth
Guest
Eve Narlieth

I always defended destiny’s DLC because “oh it’s an MMO”, but when I found out how much The Witcher 3 DLC cost, I felt quite stupid.

ATBro
Guest
ATBro

I don’t disagree that this shit is morally dubious, but there would be an unintended consequence to these things going away. Particularly that the base price of games would most certainly go up. Ten years ago when game prices went up ten dollars, people lost their shit, and games aren’t getting any cheaper to make, and $60 just isn’t worth what it was 10 years ago. So, we can have these stupid, pointless micro transactions that we don’t have to do and season passes that we, again, don’t have to buy, or we can have more expensive games that will… Read more »

Clark O'Brien
Guest
Clark O'Brien

The only thing we can do is withhold our cash and remain vocal. The Deus Ex upgrade fiasco shows we still have power as consumers, even if you think you have a small voice just put it out there and, if its genuinely something damaging, others will join it. I am concerned about these practices. People only have so much cash, if a single game becomes such a heavy investment these big companies are going to find people wont be able to pay for them. This industry has crashed before so they aren’t invunrable. Personally I dumped Destiny after the… Read more »

Matthew D.
Guest
Matthew D.

I’m fine with the Halo microtransactions since the maps are free. I hate having to buy maps in a MP mode since it just breaks up the playerbase.

Effusion
Guest
Effusion

Maybe the jimquisition could have microtransactions. It could be like wheel of fortune, pay $1 to reveal a letter. The first one to guess what the article says wins! For those who don’t want to play though it’s okay, we understand. For just $19.95* you can save big and reveal all 26 letters. We’ll even throw in numbers and punctuation for free!

*Two year subscription required. Some restrictions may apply. Offer void where prohibited by law or sanity. Payment does not constitute a binding agreement to provide goods or services.

SpoolTrip
Guest
SpoolTrip

It’s even worse for Australians, where the base price of the game IS $110. If I preorder the game and the season pass together, $159.98.
EA plz.

jepf
Guest
jepf

The reason this whole microtransaction bullshit works is because there are enough idiots among *us* who pay for it. It’s the reason big companies get bigger and bring us crappier products. It’s the reason we are all slaves to our work, … Oh, we should all just fuck ourselves.

dennett316
Guest
dennett316

“If you’re constantly defending something every time you do it, without ever proving the merit of it, maybe you’ve done something fucking indefensible.” Exactly! The best thing that people can say about microtransactions is “Just don’t buy them”. Gee, thanks, glad I got your permission. The inclusion of them is NOT benign, and it never has been. They fundamentally change how a game is designed, because they’re trying to coax people into buying the things. If it’s “not about the money”, why not give people the “option” of unlocking things more quickly by enabling difficulty modes that let less experienced… Read more »

Jesse Young
Guest
Jesse Young

Meanwhile, Need for Speed pulls a complete 180 of Star Wars: Battlefront and won’t have micro-transactions or a season pass.

I mean, sure, the game requires an online connection, but hey, I’d rather have that than forcing micro-transactions and a season pass down our throats, which would’ve killed NFS faster had that happened.

Xanco
Guest
Xanco

Oh fuck me… You’ve really outdone yourself this week games industry. Microtransactions in any premium game can fuck off, we omit ourselves from the attacks on our will & patience when we pay for a game and they’re never optional. As for season passes, pre-ordering DLC is ludicrous and shitty, it’s something that I’ll probably never understand.

UnverifiedBacon
Guest
UnverifiedBacon

i was definitely shocked to hear about all of this within a week’s time….

Azure
Guest
Azure

Unless it’s free to play, cheap or is an amazing game, I’ve stopped touching, even entertaining the thought, of buying a game with micro-transactions. Turns out games do not need a massive studio to be good (Undertale, Binding of Issac, Skullgirls). Just looking at the drop in quality of what is supposed to be called a AAA game compared to something a handful of people can make. What is missing? The heart, to a handful of people they dedicate to making a great game in their vision while a AAA studio is just ticking boxes to fill quota’s to maximize… Read more »

Zook024
Guest
Zook024

From the beta I played I do not foresee myself picking up battlefront anytime soon and this ludicrous asking price of $110 for the complete experience at launch is fucking disgusting.

Dream Warden
Guest
Dream Warden

Why this work is beyond me.
I never buy games on launch, and I never buy season passes. I buy the game a year or two later and get the game of the year edition on sale for a dollar or two.

Dragonzeanse
Guest
Dragonzeanse

“This is especially true of Electronic Arts, a company that has broken more promises than it has game studios.”

Not hard since they closed most of them, ha ha ha.

WankTrainWithNoBreaks
Guest
WankTrainWithNoBreaks

Rise of the Tomb Raider purchase no longer being considered…

Halo 5 Purchase entirely off the table…

And Battlefront 3 purchase was never on the table in the first case because FUCK EA

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