games / Columns

The Gaming Rs: The Good & Bad of Microtransactions

October 13, 2017 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Microtransactions Overwatch Lootboxes

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special edition of the Gaming Rs! This week has been a stressful one, as Shadow of War came out on the same day as my Mac decided to stop recognising my hard drive. Considering a few options for repair and the fact that nowhere will just sell me the one part I know I need to fix it, I’m currently running off of a USB flash drive. The things I do for you all. Also, Shadow of War is a fairly stressful game. Look to the east on the third day for my review of that for the full story. Between this and gearing up to move house, this may not be the longest, or indeed best edition of the Rs you’ll have ever read but I’ll do what I can to make it up to you all somehow. I mean, if I can. Playing Shadow of War inspired this column, as I’ll be looking at the Rs of microtransactions. We all have feelings about them, so I’ll try and break those down. As such, there’s no time to waste this week, though, so let’s get right in with the comments section from last week.

Reader Feedback:

Last week, I talked about the Sonic movie, shovelware and racism. Nobody commented on the last one.

LegendKillerRab: Sonic Mania = 1 step forward
Sonic Movie = 500 steps back

100% this. Although I won’t admit to fully loving Sonic Mania, either. I just think the Sonic franchise is at a point where I think there’s probably been too much damage done to it and as a result, it’s really hard to properly take anything seriously.

Voice Of Logic: I don’t know about you all, but if Sega were to release a Genesis Classic, loaded with say…30 games or so, I’d buy the ever loving shit out of it. Eternal Champions, Toe Jam & Earl, etc…

Absolutely. I’d buy it just for Eternal Champions, I fucking loved that game. My main main Crackhead_Bob did make a valid point about it, though.

These things actually exist already. They aren’t manufactured by Sega, but they are official pieces of kit, and they play your old carts. The newest model is HDMI as well.

But before you go hunting one down..the emulation quality is absolutely terrible. The sound reproduction is just horrific. All the music you loved with that “it’s so Genesis” sound quality is just destroyed.

Now if Sega and Nintendo came to an agreement for Ninty to manufacture a repro Genesis I’d hand over my money right now. The SNES classic is top notch build quality, with excellent emulation (better than the emulation quality you can find on Pi IMO)

Yeah, the ones I’ve seen are horrible things. Please don’t waste your money on one, as much as I can’t condone emulation here, anything is better than the badly made crap Bob pointed out. Fingers crossed about one day us seeing a Genesis classic released in partnership with Nintendo, though. Then this happened:

Jed Shaffer: I’d rather see a Sega console that hasn’t had multiple collections and re-distributions. Sega CD or Saturn, for instance.

I’d love a Saturn collection of any kind. It’s arguably my favourite console, for sentimental reasons, so playing some of the classics again would be amazing. Just someone give me that right now thank you very much. Games like Nights Into Dreams, Panzer Dragoon, even Athlete Kings would be great. As for the Mega-CD? Maybe less so, given Night Trap having just been re-released on the PS4, there’s maybe not a lot else I’d be jumping up and down for on the CD. Still, love the idea.

JSawyer80: The Sonic movie is actually the Ark of the Covenant. If you watch it, your face mercifully melts off

I got your error, dude. And yeah, I fully expect that the Sonic Movie will be like I Spit On Your Grave or Last House, you know? It’ll have to come with a disclaimer.

Without any further delay, let’s get on with Righting some wRongs!


The Right:

So, it’s actually pretty tough for me to defend micro-transactions, but hear me out. Some people, as staggering as it may seem, don’t have a huge amount of time to play video games. I know, I know. Crazy. So, some people are actually happy to pay for loot boxes and micro-transactions to save some of the otherwise tedious grind. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually like the grind in most games. Hell, I’ve spent 4 full days nearly playing Destiny 2 without spending a penny of my own money, mainly because the ability to change the colour of my gear just isn’t a big deal for me, but it’s all about the grind. If you were able to pay to get your level up, though? While it wouldn’t be fair, I can appreciate why someone would be willing to pay, say, $10 to get to a point where they’re on a par with people who’ve been grinding. I know that isn’t especially fair, but come on. It’s a tough thing to argue. The fact is, these small add-ons are successful enough to be included in everything these days, so one has to assume it’s from this exact line of thought. The only time I’ve “paid to win” is on an old Tiger Woods game, probably like 2009-ish and I bought a new driver for a couple of bucks. It did help, as it probably saved me 9 or 10 rounds of golf to have earned it, at which point it wouldn’t have helped me, but I’d much rather do things the old fashioned way. I just understand why people are willing to do it sometimes. Paying for aesthetics, though, that absolutely baffles me. If it helps you get a foot up, especially in a single player game, then fair play. More money than sense, but fair play.

The wRong:

All I can say here is “Ultimate Team.” Every single thing about this just absolutely disgusts me. From the fact you’re paying to have TEMPORARY access to players that are in the fucking game to begin with, followed by the fact you then need to pay to keep them under contract, EA absolutely disgust me with this. The fact it’s leaked into all of their sport franchises such as NHL and even the UFC game is a disgraceful cash grab. Whatever happened to just having a season mode, where you could buy and sell players as you wished? What makes this even worse is that people have become legitimately “famous” purely for reaction videos to opening these packs of virtual cards. I’m absolutely all about “different strokes” and all that, but honestly, who in the hell decides they want to sit and watch someone else get the ability to control Lionel Messi on their FIFA team, all the while screaming, shouting and making an absolute knob of themselves? Of course, EA know people will do this. It’s an addictive form of gambling that they can market to children. It’s the same model that most mobile games will now use as well, with so many seemingly important features hidden behind paywalls and the ability to access them within the game seemingly just out of achievable reach, or in the case of Ultimate Team, impossible without the eventual purchase of these cards.

The Ridiculous:

There only seems to be one ridiculous thing about micro-transactions for me and that is that in any game that actually matters, they’re completely optional. So, we’re unfortunately just going to have to learn to accept the fact that the option to pay to win is going to be there from now on. If we take the last 2 games I’ve reviewed for 411mania; Forza 7 and Shadow of War; both have been much maligned lately for their inclusion of paid content. Forza 7, at time of writing, actually hasn’t enabled monetisation as yet and if they have, I sure as hell couldn’t find it. The loot boxes are bought with in game currency and you’ll still get a car, or new driver gear on the most part. You don’t need to use them, although there are a few rarer cars and Forza Edition cars that are only available through these crates but they are variants of existing cars. If we take Shadow of War, though, I’ve been playing it constantly since release and am around 60% through the game and not once have I had to put my hand in my own pocket. Frankly, I’m not even sure what benefit it will do as to my knowledge, the loot crates are actually levelled. So, if you buy one to give you an advantage, soon enough the contents will be completely irrelevant as you’ll have better weapons and more powerful allies at your disposal.


That’s all we have for this week, thanks for entertaining me while I stress about moving and my poor, dead computer. I’ll see you all in seven and until then…

Don’t be a dick!

article topics :

Gaming 3Rs, Stewart Lange