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Microtransactions and my views

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Clephas

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Let's first lay out my basic view... I loathe microtransactions.

I'm not an anti-industry activist, and I don't have a serious bone to pick with any individual company about them.  I've had a few bad experiences with them, but the reason for my loathing is something more fundamental, that I came to realize only after I'd put a year or so between my worst experience with them.

First of all, my experience was with an MMORPG on PC, rather than a blockbuster title or a smartphone game.  As such, in some ways my experience is probably the most 'traditional' one for the original form microtransactions took... the 'pay-to-win' model of massively multiplayer games. 

Basically, in that game, you could not only buy clothing and armor with real money, you could also massively accelerate your experience gaining and basically not even do several annoying but important quests that gained you new skills and and access to higher classes if you were willing to fork over enough money.  Now, this was the game that essentially put an end to me playing MMO's, even out of curiosity.  Before then, I'd only played subscription-model games, and as a result, I'd never experienced a game designed to essentially squeeze more and more money out of people in that manner.  My frustration kept growing, because up until then, I'd basically played games when they first came out until I reached the level cap, then dropped them, cancelling my subscriptions and deleting my account.  However, in that game, I kept on running into roadblocks to my curiosity about the world I'd entered, and when that frustration reached its peak... I made the mistake of indulging in microtransactions to speed things along.

I probably wouldn't have realized what it was doing to me or my bank account, if it weren't for the fact that I got caught up in a minor scandal where a GM was raiding players' accounts using his administrative rights and selling off their non-bound equipment and items on the marketplace.  While it wasn't a direct result of my microtransactions, it nonetheless served to cool my head... and make me realize I'd basically thrown away money on virtual items, some of them with frigging time limits for their use.  I got my money back for the stolen items, but only after I flatly stated I wanted nothing to do with the game after that and threatened to lawyer up if they refused.  So, I managed to escape before I reached the degree of financial loss Japanese 'kakinhei' have been casually enduring for years before the concept wormed its way over here (incidentally, it is much, much worse in Japan, China, and Korea than it is here...).

Microtransactions are essentially an outgrowth of the dlc concept, save without even attempting to give you value for value.  Once you've purchased dlc, it is yours, you can leave it installed without worrying the 'time limit' will run out, and you don't need to feel driven to show off how much money you wasted to people who were just as stupid as you were.  However, the most critical difference is that dlc isn't an 'infinite product'.  It isn't constructed to draw ever greater amounts of money out of the user and indulging in purchasing dlc or a season pass for a regular game you like isn't nearly as damaging to your wallet or your mental health as microtransactions are. 

Edit: To be clear, I see microtransactions as being one of the most fundamentally dishonest types of scam directed at consumers to have cropped up this century.  The techniques are well-established, predatory, and poisonous, especially to those too young and inexperienced to realize that money doesn't spray in infinite clouds of green from the cards in their parents' wallet. 

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I've once lost around $150 on one of those pay-to-win mobile games, although throughout like 6-7 months, so admittedly it wasn't that more expensive than typical subscription fee on an MMO. For people that have addictive personalities or are otherwise susceptible for this kind of manipulation though, it can have pretty horrible consequences. I don't expect game companies to follow any kind of moral codes as long as we let them get away with it, but I find it strange how little was done so far to regulate this stuff, especially on mobile.

BTW, there's an actual pay-to-win, or maybe "pay-to-read" visual novel, Moe! Ninja Girls. TBH, it's actually one of the worst, most predatory mobile games I've seen so far. I was going to write a post about it at some point, might do it sooner as you've already brought up the topic. :)

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I believe I'm too stingy with my money to actually fall trap to these seemingly predatory practices.
I also have trouble finding worth in a lot of online stuff. I remember buying an announcer pack on a free-to-play game ages ago because it was at 75% off or something and I still regret it to this day.

I can be a victim to impulsive buying, and I will buy games I hardly ever play, but I am too sceptical to buy most DLC and especially not microtransactions.
I think it was the Paradox games that had a ridiculous amount of DLC. It's even difficult to tell what I'm buying half the time. There was this bundle with a bunch of stuff in it, which seemed like a good deal, but turned out to have mostly cosmetic stuff that I'm, honestly, not interested in.

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That happened to me with Granblue Fantasy. It was the only mobile game I spent a lot of money on, and I do kinda feel that I was pulled into it. Given how difficult it is to set up an ideal team with good synergy, I fell into something of a spending trap with special offers that let you buy any non-promotional character you wanted. These promotions only came up every so often, so it was hard to resist them when they did. I didn't go overboard with spending, but I did invest about $90 in the game to buy the team I wanted. That's money I could've easily spent on a limited edition of a game, which I think would have been preferable (even if you stop playing, it still looks nice as a shelf decoration).

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I've consistently quit just about every game I've played up to now, that has microtransactions, and that I have spent money on, within like 2 weeks of spending the money. Not sure why.
On the other hand, I have extreme difficulty leaving these games. ATM, I'm playing 2 such games and just started a 3rd, albeit as completely f2p.

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Well, the most easiest solution of microtransaction problem was just didn't get tempted by instant power up and just do f2p way. Easy, right? That said, from what I understand obviously the target of microtransaction was the people who have a lot of money and less time for the grinding, so of course they need faster way to be more powerful. Other than that, unfortunately I couldn't bring more interesting thing about microtransaction there seeing that the mobage that have one that I currently play was Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Link, and the microtransaction was definitely lighther than the examples out there - it also helped that currently it's pretty easy to get a good deck at the beginning of the game so I didn't need to use the real money.

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18 hours ago, Beichuuka said:

I've consistently quit just about every game I've played up to now, that has microtransactions, and that I have spent money on, within like 2 weeks of spending the money. Not sure why.
On the other hand, I have extreme difficulty leaving these games. ATM, I'm playing 2 such games and just started a 3rd, albeit as completely f2p.

I had this experience where I was playing f2p for a long time, and then finally gave in and bought premium. At that moment I felt like everything in the game should become trivial. Like when you activate cheat mode in a single-player game. But it didn't and I felt disappointed, lost motivation and quit.

A lot of my friends play these games with everyday routines, which kind of makes me want to stay away from those micro-transaction games. Usually it isn't the routine gameplay that appeals to me, but the combination with voice acting and art. Because of that and the fact that I don't play games on my mobile phone, I seldom play those kinds of games. I did manage to spend about $200 on a game called Shadowverse. About half of that was on a 33% off sale. Though I must say, the transaction system is honestly pretty decent for that game - it's clean and elegant, and f2p is a real legitimate option.

I also found it's easy to get lured into buying shitty stuff on dlsite (quickly learned my lesson though). For big-name steam games I watch a lot of gameplay videos before buying them to make sure that I'll actually play and enjoy the game. Overall I feel that it was good I got exposure to these elements in a moderate way and didn't get hooked on those seriously exploitative games.
 

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Edit: To be clear, I see microtransactions as being one of the most fundamentally dishonest types of scam directed at consumers to have cropped up this century.  The techniques are well-established, predatory, and poisonous, especially to those too young and inexperienced to realize that money doesn't spray in infinite clouds of green from the cards in their parents' wallet.

I agree. In terms of games, micro-transaction ones are the bottom of the barrel. I don't consider them as games anymore, when they are not about gameplay and are just a system with stimuli designed to psychologically trap their users.

Edited by Chronopolis

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I'm always fairly wary of microtransactions myself, and generally approach them with a great deal of skepticism - despite the fact that I do, admittedly, make use of them from time to time in my mobile gaming drug of choice.

 

In general, if I really - really - like a game, and thus want to directly support the developers, it's free to play, and I can squeeze a reasonable value out of the transaction, I'm not all that against them... thus, for me, a AAA game's loot box system is a no-go, while a discounted item bundle in Love Live! is fair game.

 

Developer support in particular can be a big thing for me - in the past I've made a fair number of microtransactions in the game Fallen London in part out of complete and utter overwhelming support for the folks behind it, and a desire to see them succeed.

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