Titantransactions

Titanfall 2 has recently presented me with an interesting dilemma. After its release, Respawn’s tragically underperforming game opened a microtransaction store – or at least that’s what it’s been called in the press.

As somebody who quite notoriously rails against the practice of introducing free-to-play elements in premium games, I was ready to disqualify it from any year-end honorifics and be grumpy about the whole thing. However, after looking at them myself, my initial inclination was to not classify them as microtransactions – at least not in the way I would for other fee-to-pay games.

While some may think I’m being pedantic, I think it’s worth examining the items available for Titanfall 2 and seeing where one draws the line.

Obviously, for those who have no problems at all with microtransactions of any flavor, or consider anything cosmetic acceptable, this is a cut-and-dry issue. For the rest of us, there’s some meat to chew through here.

Rather than offer premium currencies, gambling systems, or other shady economic options, Titanfall 2‘s content offering is at the very least refreshingly direct, reminding me of older downloadable content from the late 2000s.

The store currently offers various cosmetic “packs” containing paintjobs and skins for the multiplayer, ranging from $1.99 to $4.99. It’s worth noting these skins do not represent indefinite purchases or random gambles like you’d find in free-to-play games. You pay for what you want, you get them, and that’s that.

On the flipside, it’s also important to consider these are not things you can earn in-game, which is a common justification for microtransactions. If you want these skins, buying them isn’t simply a faster option, they’re the only option. At least, as near as I can tell.

Before we go any further, I should say that these are absolutely microtransactions on a literal level. A microtransaction is simply a small payment for virtual goods – it used to mean tiny payments of under a dollar but has expanded over the years to at least cover anything under five bucks.

So yes, going purely by the objective definition, these are microtransactions.

What muddies the water for me is that while they are indeed microtransactions by definition, they’re not entirely representative of what I’ve so regularly called “fee-to-pay” elements. You’re not buying a $60 game that will then keep hammering on you to continue paying additional cash indefinitely. Electronic Arts – in this one instance – is not using a common free-to-play model in order to keep making bank on something it already sold us.

Any form of paid multiplayer content will have similarities with fee-to-pay problems. Even one-shot cosmetic items, like the ones seen in Titanfall 2, will create that “haves and have-nots” economic structure with those who paid to look cooler than other players, thus tempting more customers to stump up some cash.

The same is true for season pass exclusives and pre-order bonuses, as well as any traditional DLC that’s tied to an online community.

Part of what might make this contentious for me is that I remember clearly the time before “microtransactions” became part of the gaming lexicon. Before free-to-play games popularized the term, small payments for downloadable content in games were just considered part of the wider DLC smorgasbord.

Specifically, I’m thinking of things like Dead Space, which had always offered cosmetic skins as their own unique purchases. The big contention with those skins was not that they were “microtransactions” but that they were launch-day items as well as ludicrously priced. Five bucks for a single skin was stupid, and I even said at the time I’d have been willing to maybe buy some if they were a buck or less.

In the years since then, however, microtransactions became the go-to term for these smaller pieces of DLC, but it was so closely associated with the free-to-play market that it consistently represented premium currencies, keys for random loot boxes, and similar schemes that were often acceptable trade-offs for genuine F2P games but took on a grotesque vibe when shoveled into anything that charged money up-front.

Dead Space is actually a prime example of this. Dead Space and Dead Space 2 both had launch-day cosmetic DLC, and people were annoyed only by the fact this content was sold at launch. Dead Space 3 introduced a grind-flavored crafting system with a true fee-to-pay economy, and that‘s when the series was slammed for its microtransactions in ways the previous entries hadn’t.

Many of us, I believe, mentally distinguish microtransactions by their delivery method and impact, not just the amount of money being charged.

I think most of us can look at Titanfall 2‘s DLC as microtransactions on an objective level but it becomes significantly tougher to consider them representative of all the negativity that rightly surrounds the word. Yes, that word has a specific meaning and it applies to Titanfall 2, but language is always evolving and words that have established definitions can take on new meanings altogether with enough use.

The game industry is well aware of this, and has taken steps to mitigate bad publicity.

EA once tried to use the labels “macro monetization” and “micro monetization”, attempting to retroactively normalize microtransactions by dressing them as the natural flipside to traditional post-launch content.

It benefits the game industry to keep terms loose and ill-defined, to keep switching the language and attempting to confuse the audience so things can slip past the radar. With that in mind, you can look up microtransactions to see them defined in fairly broad terms, while different platforms all use different words – in-app purchases, free-to-start, in-app billing, etcetera.

Mileage varies on what is or isn’t acceptable here, and there is no right answer whatsoever. The acceptability of DLC practices is defined only by the individual customer on a case-by-case basis. If you’re buying keys for loot crates, then clearly they’re acceptable for you and I wouldn’t tell you you’re wrong – it’s your money to spend as you see fit, even if I personally hate to see business practices I’d consider scummy get rewarded.

For me as a critic – one who has strong feelings about fee-to-pay that directly impacts my coverage of games – it’s an intriguing question and a knotty issue. Titanfall 2, for example, made the shortlist for the Jimquisition Awards, but my rule that microtransactions in premium games disqualify them for consideration has been pretty hardline and this, by virtue of the wording I’ve used, is easy to shoot down as a violation of that rule.

But I can’t claim to find Titanfall 2‘s DLC to be truly galling due to their one-shot nature and mostly decent pricing. It’s not what I think of when I use the term “fee-to-pay” which, admittedly, is a term I made up myself and never exactly took off outside of my own tiny pocket of influence. I wish it caught on as well as “asset flip” did.

At the very least, Titanfall 2 may well represent the softest possible side of the thorny microtransaction subject. In a year where Overwatch sported a mutilated, unsatisfying reward system and Square Enix royally took the piss with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, it’s hard for me to take offense at Respawn’s little marketplace.

Like I suggested only recently though, the “it could be worse” excuse starts us down a rocky road where previously dismal practices gain acceptance because even worse ones keep rising up.

That just leaves me back at square one – on the fence about Titanfall 2, caught as it is in the space between the true definition of “microtransactions” and the excess that is “fee-to-pay.”

It’s something I’ll be giving a lot of thought before my year-end wrap-ups start (which will be very soon!), and it’s definitely something I’ve found rewarding – if frustrating – to mentally tear into.

God though, Overwatch‘s loot boxes are fucking shit.

MermaidShadow
Guest
MermaidShadow
Honestly? From what you describe – haven’t played Titanfall 2 myself – I’d take this system over the one in Overwatch. At least it’s upfront in what it offers you and you get exactly what you paid for. Yes, it creates a haves-versus-have-not situation in the community, but at least the lines are clear-cut – you see a person wearing a certain skin, and you know “Ah, this person paid money.” You might be jealous, yes, but at least it’s fair and clear-cut. From what I remember, Champions Online (F2P) a game that’s also big on cosmetics, worked the same… Read more »
sillyskeleton
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sillyskeleton
Firstly I’d better state that I do not give Overwatch’s microtransaction system a pass. Now, that being said, saying you could grind for 1000 hours for a chance to get that one legendary skin is just untrue. I have put about 40 hours into the game so far and have been able to afford two legendary skins of my own choosing through the in game currency. Not to mention I unlocked roughly 6-8 others through free loot boxes earned in game. With the system as it is now, I’ll never pay an extra cent to unlock anything in Overwatch, but… Read more »
MermaidShadow
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MermaidShadow
Sorry, but the fact that the system is completely randomized basically shoots any anecdotal “I got this amount of skins/this amount of ingame currency” in the foot, and I will never count it as evidence that this system isn’t bullshit. There is simply no base to accurately calculate this. If you reliably got in-game currency from matches, I’d concur, but even THAT is completely down to the RNG gods, because Blizzard is all like: “What? Give people stuff?! In a game they PAID for?! What madness is this?!” You might get three batches of 500 coins in three boxes, you… Read more »
sillyskeleton
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sillyskeleton
I’m in no way stating that Overwatch’s system isn’t a piece of shit, but the degree this all depends on your personal perspective. You find TF2’s system less sleazy because you can choose what you pay for. I find Overwatch’s less sleazy because I don’t have to pay a dime and can still gain access piece by piece to the shit they’re hiding in loot boxes by just playing the game. One small side benefit to Overwatch’s system is that it encourages people to keep playing to earn more loot boxes, which helps to maintain a healthy online player base.… Read more »
MermaidShadow
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MermaidShadow
I guess I see this whole debacle as symptomatic of a bigger problem in the industry, especially with Blizzard. They released a barebones game (however excellent a barebones game it is) and released basically all flavor text as microtransactions. Believe me, after a couple hundred matches these skins ARE what spices up your experience. So, to me, “cosmetic” or not, they ARE content. Voice lines and emotes, too – everything is content, and games are cutting more and more away on the pretext that “it’s just cosmetics”, and people keep defending this because “GAYMEPLAYYYYYYY”. I foresee a future where Blizzard… Read more »
Tallcat
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Tallcat

This absolutely counts as fee-to-pay, and should not be an award contender, Jim. At least not anymore. If you wanted to say that the way it launched, and what it represented then was award-worthy then I would agree with you. Otherwise I wouldn’t risk the integrity of your little awards show.

Shaamaan
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Shaamaan
Here’s a (possibly) stupid question. What’s the difference between the two DLCs for the Witcher 3 and the cosmetics for Titanfall 2? Scope, obviously, and if you go by some dollars per content count, then I guess Witcher wins hands down. But, on a very basic level, both are the same. So where does one draw the line? I’m not a fan of microtransactions, but I did buy some ship paint jobs for Elite Dangerous and I’m seriously considering getting a prime titan (or two) for Titanfall 2. I know what I’m getting, I know the price, and I want… Read more »
Mygaffer
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Mygaffer

I’d say the skins and things sold as DLC for Borderlands 2 seem more analogous.

Shaamaan
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Shaamaan

I wanted to deliberately compare TF2 microtransactions (or cosmetic DLC, however one calls it I the end) with something critically acclaimed and much loved. In essence, both games offer additional (optional) content for additional money. So where is the line, exactly, and how does one define it?

Mygaffer
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Mygaffer

Borderlands 2 was a paid release though while TF2 has been free for a while. The interesting thing to me is that while most Borderlands 2 DLC was well received the most controversial were the skin and head packs.

BAH!
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BAH!

I think he meant Titanfall 2, not Team Fortress 2.

Anon Amiss
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Anon Amiss

Thing is, if Fee to Pay didn’t exist you wouldn’t even consider not considering Titanfall 2 for a Jimquisition Award because it hasn’t done anything egregious. Now you might just because what it’s doing can technically be described using the same words that describe what shaddier games are doing?

Stephen
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Stephen
This is a very well written and thought out article and I don’t particularly disagree with any specific bit, but I do think that it would be hypocritical to exempt these particular microtransactions just because the way in which they’re presented is a bit less egregious. I completely understand why people don’t like Overwatch’s system. I don’t have a large problem with it, but that’s mostly because I’ve seen how Blizzard prices individual skins in Heroes of the Storm. Legendary skins are $10 a pop there, so if you gave me a choice of spending $10 on one skin for… Read more »
Mygaffer
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Mygaffer

How different are these “micro-transactions” from Borderlands 2 skin/head packs DLC? If they are functionally identical aside from what you call them I think you have to at least consider that Titanfall 2 should be allowed awards.

OctopussGrift
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OctopussGrift

I think most people thought that Borderlands 2’s over use of DLC was kinda shitty. Especially since they had a season pass that did not give all the content.

Also Jim did not give Borderlands 2 an award.

Misha
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Misha

The problem is that just because you’ve had a good experience with random loot boxes, doesnt mean others have 🙁 not to mention i’d rather just be able to buy skins of my two favorite characters, rather then have to dredge through skins of characters i dont care for and dont play. Not to mention most skins are just ugly recolors. If they werent recolors, I might have agreed with you, but as it stands, the only skins worth getting imo are legendaries, and even 2/4 legendaries are just recolors of the other legendary.

Do you see my problem here.

Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
Titanfall 2 does it right. No season pass nonsense… free maps going forward, and they monetize it with cosmetic stuff that will sell just enough to keep them invested in making new content for everyone. The problem we seem to forget is that game budgets have inflated over time, but people’s expectation of what a game should cost has remained at $60. So if you’re in the industry, which route do you go? Do you try to release the game at $80 and hope the backlash against the expected $60 norm is overcome by the value of the game? Do… Read more »
diamond
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diamond

There was actually a time when games were 70-80 dollars, specifically N64 games, because of Nintendo’s “brilliant” idea to stick to cartridges after everyone else had already moved on to using CDs, which drove the price up.

Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
Yes, but when those games were $70-80, it was primarily because of the cost of the chips used in cartridges skyrocketing. That’s part of what ushered in the move from cartridges to much cheaper CD media (and later DVD). That’s different than the current situation, which is that as each generation improves resolution, shaders, etc., the budgets to make these games have increased quite a bit… whereas the price point hasn’t increased at the same rate due to consumer expectation. So developers/publishers have to find ways to mitigate that cost somehow. This is why you see so many games now… Read more »
diamond
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diamond

No they don’t, the publishers don’t NEED to put in microtransactions into games, that’s fucking bullshit and you know it. Like Jim has said before, if a game is a failure despite selling millions, then it’s not because it was only sold for 60 dollars, it’s because the game’s budget was severely mismanaged.

4k Gaming won’t be viable for over a decade or more.

Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
I feel like you’re not paying attention… 4K gaming is happening RIGHT NOW on PC, and those assets are going to be used for PS4 Pro and Scorpio. Console 4K gaming is near future (since PS4 Pro isn’t hitting true 4K but near it and scaling), not some “decade or more” away. Devs are having to work with assets for 4K RIGHT NOW. And with these new consoles, that will be the standard going forward. I’ll agree that marketing budgets are normally where the mismanagement takes place, but for a AAA game, you can’t keep expecting them to make these… Read more »
diamond
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diamond
4K is still barely viable for watching movies, so no I am “paying attention” fool, plenty of people like Total Biscuit have said that 4K gaming will not become mainstream for many years. It will take a long time for 4K gaming to be standard, it won’t happen overnight, check out the CNET article”4-K Ultra HDs TVs are stupid” to find out why. Publishers like Square Enix are massive offenders in terms of wasting money on decadent nonsense like Jim has said numerous times. MTs became popular not because of AAA budgets and it had jack shit to do with… Read more »
Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
You mention CNET’s article. Check out their follow up article, entitled “Why 4K TVs aren’t stupid (anymore)”. The price has dropped rapidly, and 4K televisions are being adopted faster than 1080p sets were at this same time since release. As of June, over 8 million sets had been sold… and as Christmas approaches, 4K televisions are one of the hottest selling items. I’m stating facts here, not regurgitating the thoughts of others. Total Biscuit… “like Jim has said”… None of that changes the facts that 1) Xbox One S is out right now, doing 4K scaling and UHD/streaming in 4K,… Read more »
diamond
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diamond

my god, the amount of dick sucking you are doing for publishers is fucking pathetic, people like you are the reason why fee 2 pay games are so prevalent.

Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
Well, so much for an adult discussion. You can call it “dick sucking” all you want… I’m trying to explain to you that companies exist to make money. If a product they have been making a particular profit margin on begins to cost more but they can’t raise the price to the end user to compensate due to consumer expectations (the stagnant $60 price point), they’re not going to take those additional costs out of THEIR end. They’re either going to 1) raise the costs of games and hope the market follows suit, or 2) find a different route to… Read more »
Nitrium
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Nitrium
Financing 4k content via microtransactions is completely the wrong approach though – i.e. making people pay for features they might not want. The logical approach, surely, is to make a 4k version of the game available as DLC. So $60 gets you the 1080p base game, $20 more for the “4k pack” DLC gets you the 4k upgrade. Further, this has the advantage of people not wasting bandwidth and storage space on textures etc from the get go that they’re not going to use. In a nutshell, a user pay model. If no-one buys the “4k pack” (or it isn’t… Read more »
Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
It isn’t a matter of “financing 4K content via microtransactions” as you’re thinking. They have to make the 4K content for the PC market anyway (and have been doing higher-res assets in that sector for a bit now), then scale it down for the other target platforms. The point here is that the overall cost of asset creation has gone up with each console generation, and as GPUs for the PC market improve. Even from the 360/PS3 to X1/PS4, as they had more memory to work with, they could increase resolution of the assets, so the cost to make those… Read more »
Nitrium
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Nitrium

“They have to make the 4K content for the PC market anyway”

They don’t “have to” do any such thing – they CHOOSE to do so. If PC users aren’t prepared to pay extra for 4K content, then they shouldn’t GET 4k content. And it certainly shouldn’t be subsidised by 1080p console players via insidious mictotransactions. It’s pretty simple really – if there is no actual unsubsidised market for 4K games, then they shouldn’t be making them period. And this is coming from a 100% PC gamer.

Benj
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Benj

Why is it not an option to just spend less money on their games?

Whenever people try to sympathise with developers and publishers about bloated game budgets they seem to forget who’s responsible for them.

Reverend Slim
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Reverend Slim
It is an option… but would you want every game to be the quality of an indie game? Would you want to do away with AAA games altogether? Because no matter how much you argue it conceptually, the cost of making the games has risen due to the needs of the technology FAR MORE than the end user’s cost for buying a game has increased (which has been fairly stagnant). Now, that’s not to say that publishers aren’t spending more than they should on marketing for the bigger games that people are already aware of… but at the end of… Read more »
Benj
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Benj
I think the indie or AAA dichotomy is a problem and the questions you set out in your comment are a pretty good illustration for why. There’s the idea that you either need to be the next big thing with cutting edge graphics and animation or you’re just making a little indie game begging for table scraps. What about something like Dark Souls that had a modest budget but looks and plays great (ignoring the shit PC port) and was clearly worth the full price and made plenty of money. What about games published by Devolver Digital, what count as?… Read more »
Alenonimo
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There’s no gambling and don’t affect gameplay? Doesn’t involve buying arcane currency? Sounds actually nice.

RedWolf
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RedWolf
I think there are many sides to the microtransactions argument, and it’s definitely a discussion worth having. For me personally, microtransactions in pure free-to-play games are absolutely fine, but I still draw the line on microtransactions in premium titles. Then again, if a piece of optional (not game-critical) downloadable content is available as a one-time purchase with no RNG bullshit at a reasonable price, then I can write it off as more or less acceptable. In the end, it all comes down to what you want and what you expect for your money. I mean, I spent nearly a tenner… Read more »
Paul Avers
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Paul Avers

I think the paid Paladins loot boxes are a interesting point, since they’re still random but you are guaranteed to not get duplicates in them. Especially with the smaller ten-item ones, you *will* get what you’re looking for eventually.

RedWolf
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RedWolf

I definitely prefer Paladins’ loot system than those of games like Overpriced.

Ulf Liller
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Ulf Liller
To me, this feels like splitting hairs. I can’t see a significant differnece with there being ten skins you buy for real money directly or a hundred that you get for an ingame currency that you get for real money. The thing that makes system like Overwatch’s or CS:GO’s shitty is the random element that means if you want a specific skin, you can not know beforehand how much money you will have to spend to get it. Or if there is a pay to cheat element rather than just cosmetics. This is not where you drew the line in… Read more »
Turdsley
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Turdsley

I am not at all a fan of mircotransactions but Titanfall 2 is a game I honestly can’t get offended by. There isn’t a loot crate type of system, the packs contain a fair amount of content, they don’t affect gameplay what-so-ever, and they’re all fairly priced. Not to mention we’re still going to get free modes, maps and weapons doesn’t hurt.

Killer_Tapir
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Killer_Tapir

If it’s cosmetic only I couldn’t care less. I know what you’ve said on the subject and I still disagree. Cosmetic stuff is not the same.

That said, if Overwatch is excluded from your list, Titanfall 2 damn well better be as well. Fair is fair.

Turdsley
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Turdsley

Doesn’t Overwatch have an RNG/loot system? Titanfall 2 doesn’t. I think that makes a big difference.

Killer_Tapir
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Killer_Tapir

But to me it’s all just cosmetics so it doesn’t matter. The sprays are bullshit though. I will admit that.

Turdsley
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Turdsley

Titanfall 2’s stuff is all cosmetic as well but instead of relying on a random prize you’re purchasing a pack of stuff you want.

BAH!
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BAH!

It’s like you didn’t even read the article where Jim very carefully explained the not-too-subtle differences between traditional “fee-to-pay” microtransactions and what Titanfall 2 is doing. And where he also explained that people’s perceptions of what microtransactions even are tend to differ. And where he admitted that even he had not defined his terms as cleanly as he could have.

It’s like you read none of that, and just rushed in to demand that he apply your definitions to his award show.

Killer_Tapir
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Killer_Tapir

Or I read them and shockingly… still disagree with his point of view. And that maybe just maybe he somewhat overstates the psychological pestering designed to pressure people into buying micro transactions.

Richard Cadman
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Richard Cadman

Hmm, i’m not sure it can be overstated. When you think of some traditional marketing is done in such a way that the consumer doesn’t even realise it’s happening, something this avert really does affect people in a big way.

Hell, speaking purely anecdotally, I have only ever bought one or two cosmetic packs ever but I have felt the desire many many times more. It kinda sucks the publishers put that feeling into a full priced game.

BAH!
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BAH!

Opinion can only take you so far, especially on the idea of the effectiveness of MT’s. If they didn’t work, publishers would have dropped them a long time ago. They’ve killed entire development studios and franchises for “underperforming”, do you really think they just do shit lime this because they genuinely believe it improves the player’s experience?

What’s more, there have been actual scientific studies done showing that, yes, the psychological effect is both real and strong. So I don’t give a shit if you disagree. You’re wrong.

diamond
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diamond

He does not “overstate” anything, there have been numerous studies done on how microtransactions are designed to psychologically manipulate people.

Richard Cadman
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Richard Cadman

The reason of “it’s cosmetic so it doesn’t matter” sticks in my craw is that I have a memory of playing Dead Or Alive 2, playing through the story modes multiple times to unlock costumes. In that circumstance, that was the purpose of playing the game for me and I enjoyed it immensely. That doesn’t happen anymore and I really miss it.

So while I get why people don’t care about because “it doesn’t affect the game” I just see a potentially fun game mechanic being replaced by publisher itchy fingers and it makes me sad.

diamond
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diamond

I think it’s still fucking egregious and exploitative, I don’t give if it’s cosmetic only, that’s not a good fucking excuse.

Ryuuken
Guest

Well, Borderlands 2 had them. 5 Headhunters, the Skin/Head packs, etc. So, these little packs are along those lines, and if that was just micro-DLC, than this is the same regard, correct?

Caleb
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Caleb

I’ve always felt that there is a right way for MT’s and a wrong way. For the right way, Titanfall 2 and Rocket league (pre-key boxes) technically do have MT’s but they’re cheap and you know exactly what you’re getting like a titan skin or the Back to the Future car. It was post-launch and felt more like dlc. Unfortunately, games like Gears of War 4 and Overwatch have brought such negativity to MT’s that when we hear the word we assume that the MT’s will always be bad.

galactix100
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galactix100
While I was never much of a fan of skin packs etc. I do think that there’s a difference between them and what we’ve come to expect from fee-to-pay systems. I think to be considered what has become commonly accepted as micro-transactions there needs to be certain characteristics such as: (a) some sort of prize box purchasable through either a slowly earned in-game currency, a premium currency sold in various amounts at various prices or just plain purchasable with real money (b) there needs to be some element of luck or gambling to it (c) whatever it is real money… Read more »
Scaper
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Scaper

What personally surprises me is the presence of those art packs, which seem more like things a fan would buy if they were interested rather than something that would be forced upon a player thanks to a fee to pay economy. When you think about it, microtransactions of this nature seem a bit more like DLC than actual microtransactions.

nikolas orava
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nikolas orava

To me they look a lot more like DLC than microtransactions.

Mark Lawson
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Mark Lawson

Expansion = Large amount of content in one purchase. Typically includes new campaign, story, maps, gear and ways to play. (Destiny: Taken King)

DLC = One shot purchase for a specific thing. (CoD map pack or TF2’s skin bundles)

Microtransactions = Currency, packs, boxes that can be bought/spent infinitely to play a lottery for loot. (Halo 5 REQ, CoD Points, Deus Ex whatever it was called)

I’m not too interested in arguing what’s acceptable or not but this is how I define the terminology.

Knight_Blazer
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Knight_Blazer

I agree, I’ve always seen microtransactions as any either non-permanent or non-guaranteed addition to a game.

Caleb
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Caleb

You hit the nail on the head here. Great break down.

Varghund
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Varghund

This is how I see it aswell. I could never think these Titanfall 2 skins to be anything but DLC. If these skins would be available only in the PSN store and not in a in-game marketplace, no-one would think these are microtransactions.

So is the problem actually in the marketplace and not in the actual product?

Aristatide
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Aristatide
I’d only add one addition to micro-transactions: they’re also often used to buy more time/turns/lives/materials on a process or level that has been artificially slowed down/expanded/made more difficult to encourage just that purchasing. Dungeon Keeper Mobile, Dead Space 3, etc. As Jim has so often said, that’s not unreasonable in a free game–I try to avoid the worst of ’em, but I don’t inherently think they’re awful. Hell, I play a few. But when your $60 game is going, “Hey, I could make this so much faster and easier for you if you threw me some more money,” that’s a… Read more »
Cocofang
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Cocofang
Wow, people actually see only things with the aspect of gambling and randomness as microtransactions? I disagree entirely. League of Legends uses microtransaction in form of champions, skins, icons. Path of Exile uses them in form of cosmetics and account utility like stash tabs. Planetside 2 does it in form of cosmetics and weapons. All of them are F2P and most of their offered services are non-random. Still microtransactions. You would actually call it DLC?!? Borderlands 2 offered not only DLC (some bigger, some small, like only one character. Hello, Diablo 3!) but also skins for characters, microtransactions. The aspect… Read more »
Alex Wheatley
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Alex Wheatley

If you bend your rules now, you can never unbend it; if you stick with it now, you always have the option of changing your mind later. Particularly given the very short decision time, it might be better to err on the side of caution.

Also, props for the full version of etcetera 🙂

Scars Unseen
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Scars Unseen

That’s a very inflexible way of thinking. You can always revise your stance based on new information or reexamination of old info. There’s no long term ramifications at stake here. Just a single decision.

VanessaMagick
Guest
VanessaMagick

What I find muddies the issue is when microtransactions are almost completely unnecessary – Steep, for example, has it’s usual in-game currency that you can optionally buy with real money. The problem is, the pricing for those microtransactions are absolutely absurd considering the game throws credits at you like mad; it’s easy to be able to get even the most expensive gear within only a few hours of playing challenges.

So nobody *would* buy those microtransactions; and at that point why are they even there?

Scars Unseen
Guest
Scars Unseen
As someone largely into single player content, I’m probably not the best person to judge this sort of thing. That said, rather than a slippery slope, I see a large rift between single purchases and a system that encourages infinite purchases, regardless of the nature of those purchases themselves. At worst, an a la carte menu of trivial content is something that preys on the completionist in a visible manner with a definable end. You may be able to nickle and dime someone out more cash than the game may be worth, but anyone can take a quick glance and… Read more »
Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000
I tend to find instances like this to be a less egregious form of microtransactions. There’s no season pass being shoved down throats and no gambling aspect either. Any content with actual depth (new maps) was advertised as being free updates as well (we’ll see if that holds true, but the TF1’s extra maps were all made free over time, so there’s some precedent to believe). I wouldn’t have a problem with what Overwatch is doing if it wasn’t for the random loot crate system. They too at least have made all new maps and characters added as free updates,… Read more »
Stormagedon Dark Lord Of All
Guest
Stormagedon Dark Lord Of All

Maybe if you made an exception for Titanfall 2 this could send a message to EA and other developers that this were we could compromise with micro transactions if there is no getting away from them maybe we should say “Fine but we want them this way”

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

It’s nice to know you make that distinction as well, Jim. I’ve always argued that the philosophy of microtransactions is to offer consumable items/services that the player must buy over and over. And skins like this? Not the same thing. Not even the same ballpark, in that regard.

But I can still see the problem. And frankly, if you find yourself unable to firmly decide, I’d err on the side of caution. Because let’s be honest: your Game of the Year award, or lack thereof, is not going to influence the game’s sales and success. EA already took care of that.

Jim Sterling
Guest

Yeah, caution is where I’m leaning, if only to keep things as simple as possible. The compromise I may make is giving Titanfall an honorable mention, which is something I am absolutely not planning for certain other games.

galactix100
Guest
galactix100

It’s a shame you’ll have to err on the side of caution. If this DLC hadn’t been reported as though it was micro-transactions in the vein of Overwatch or any other fee-to-pay game one can think of, perhaps you wouldn’t have to make such a decision. That said, for what it’s worth, I think you’ve shown you could quite reasonably give Titanfall 2 an award without breaking your ‘no awards for fee-to-pay games’ rule.

Anon Amiss
Guest
Anon Amiss

There is no such thing as erring on the side of caution though. There is only moving an inherently fuzzy line more restrictive. More moments of “does this cross that line?” are going to happen no matter which way you decide.

Jim Sterling
Guest

“There is no such thing as erring on the side of caution though.”

Yes there is.

Anon Amiss
Guest
Anon Amiss
Alright I’ll try to reword a little better. There is in the sense that you can choose not to risk violating your own principle, but unless you intend to always do that in regard to this matter, it in some sense seems more like procrastinating on the side of caution. I say that because erring on the side of caution sets a precedent for that particular grey area and thus new gray area emerges around. For example, if Titanfall 2 won’t be considered for a jimquisition award, an argument could be made things that any game with a couple of… Read more »
diamond
Guest
diamond

Hey Jim, have you considered getting Total Biscuit or Caddicarus on Podquisition?

Alayen Eisenfell
Guest

TB would be amazing because of his very different point of view. But I’m now kinda sad that because of his illness and his own work that will probably never happen 🙁

diamond
Guest
diamond

If TB has time to do a video with Forgotten Weapons(where he tested out real WW1 weapons) then I think he can spare an hour and a half with Jim Laura and Gavin one of these days.

Giorgos Katsas
Guest
Giorgos Katsas

Getting an honorable mention is what Witcher 3 got last year so that will also be enough 🙂 It’s just nice to know that practices the industry should follow (like CDPR’s policy and Respawn’s free DLC policy) don’t escape your radar.

Rachel McVeigh
Guest
Rachel McVeigh

I’ve always felt there was a difference between cosmetic DLC downloads and ‘microtransactions’.

From me the big issue with microtransactions are the following:
the gambling aspect
the fact that the game will be tailored to encourage you to purchase them
the fact that they can give a person an advantage over someone who doesn’t pay.

Maybe this is just because I’m an older gamer but the ability to purchase cosmetic items directly from a store or just alternative skins, like in World of Warcraft, Mass Effect 2, Team Fortress 2 etc, never seemed as bad as the ‘fee-to-pay’ model.

CaitSeith
Guest
CaitSeith

It can be appreciated with Mass Effect 3, because it has both. Cosmetic (and non-cosmetic) DLCs for single-player, and loot boxes with microtransactions for the multiplayer. Screw loot boxes!

Kevin Douglass
Guest
Kevin Douglass

Coming soon – $5 DLC hammer to bash Trico in the head, downloadable map packs with yellow painted ledges, and in about a year Brazzers will come out with the parody.

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