Micro-Transactions are features in games that require real world money to progress through games and obtain items or progress at a faster rate. While these games can be well-received, games that feature micro-transactions have still been criticized from gamers and critics as a way for game developers and publishers to milk out more money. There are two main purposes for Micro-Transactions:
- Getting cosmetic items and fun items that don't really assist in the game.
- Getting items at a faster rate which allows game developers to obtain more money by slowing down natural progress or put in items or features that require money to obtain.
Though very common in mobile games, as of 2014, several AAA games (high quality and highly budgeted games) have begun using micro-transactions such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Assassins Creed: Unity. This led to a controversy over the future of video games.Many games intentionally lock content behind micro-transactions and make it too difficult for the player to make progress otherwise in order to force them to keep paying. This also makes many games "pay-to-win".
- In early "X Story" games such as Bakery Story for iOS which were published by Storm8, you were required to either add friends or pay to increase your building's size.
- The mobile game My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (based off the show of the same name) is a free downloadable game in which Twilight Sparkle needs the player's help to rebuild Ponyville after it's destroyed by the villainous Nightmare Moon. While the game has in game currency to help with the store, many items are only optional, but to obtain the more important characters, players need to earn rare gems which can take years of constant play to obtain. Without paying for the rare gems, it was estimated it would take 3 years to obtain the last required character and 10 years to complete the game. In one instance a child playing on her parents' iPad kept paying for rare gems unaware that it cost real money. In the end, she paid a total of £900 in real currency (roughly $1,105.95) in just 30 minutes.
- The mobile game Final Fantasy All the Bravest is the epitome of this term. While it only costs about $4 dollars to buy and download, it costs one dollar each to obtain a character or weapon. It also costs money to buy golden hourglasses to revive party members. The game is one of the very, very few times IGN has actively warned gamers not to buy the game.
- Despite developer Overkill Software promising Payday 2 would not feature any micro-transactions, they were added to the title in October 2015, which caused a severe amount of fan backlash against them. They tried to remedy this by adding several new DLC packs for returning players, but this did nothing to halt the fans' anger. Fortunately, Overkill removed micro-transactions from the game for good in May 2016 after parent company Starbreeze Studios acquired the rights to the Payday franchise from 505 Games.
- The mobile game Smurfs' Village was very popular and tied to the 2011 movie. In fact it almost topped Angry Birds in sales. The goal is to use in-game currency to obtain characters and buildings to build a village but real world currency could also be used to obtain in-game currency. As a result, kids would unknowingly rack up hundreds of dollars for playing the game. Parents sued Apple as a result.
- The Bravely Second ability in Bravely Default allows time to stop allowing one character an attack or ability to use. This ability requires Sleep Points which can be obtained by keeping the 3DS in sleep mode and obtain one SP every eight hours. SP drinks can be obtained through real world money to obtain SP points instantly. This feature was heavily criticized by YouTuber ProJared as most bosses have a difficulty spike to likely encourage gamers to spend money on SP Drinks.
- Dragon Age Inquisition has this feature to obtain resources for crafting. Though the game has been well-received, the micro-transaction was still a major criticism for the game.
- The medieval PVP brawler game For Honor which was developed by by Ubisoft requires around an estimated $700 to unlock everything in the game or 2.5 years worth of gameplay. The director of the game, Damien Keiken responded that gamers were never meant to unlock everything.
- A mobile game called Club Penguin Island was announced just as the original free-to-play PC game was about to be shut down on March 29, 2017. After the game was released, players had about one week free, but they had to pay for a membership to play for longer than that. Many players of the original were so upset, that they decided to go play the Rewritten version instead.
- A mobile game called Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow has a quest where YOU NEED TO PAY $4.99 TO COMPLETE IT!!! (Fortunately, it's not part of the main storyline)
Why it sucks
- Since almost every game on mobile devices today are full of micro-transactions, and most developers are focused on how to get more money instead of improving their gameplay, now it is rare to find a unique mobile game that doesn't copy another app.
- In some games, the game forces you to pay money in order to progress the game at a acceptable rate compared to playing as a free-to-play user where it is far too slow.
- In many games, Micro-Transactions exist as "Exclusive Items" that are dramatically more powerful than regular items, so that paying players can outrank players who don't pay very easily.
- In cases where players pay thousands of dollars or more the paying players are called "whales", and these "whales" are usually what makes the most money for the publisher.
- Sometimes, if a person links his or her online payment credit/debit card to a store account on a mobile device, children may "accidentally" buy in-game items with the real life money in the account, and how much money that will be used is variable, most likely ending with the account being out of money.
It should also be noted however, that micro-transactions can be relatively harmless if done correctly. Mainly when the stuff you buy via micro-transactions is optional or can be obtained through normal gameplay at a reasonable pace, and when the game isn't specifically designed to restrict the player unless they keep buying micro-transactions. Money obtained from micro-transactions can be used to fund extra services that the game offers such as online servers, and as long as the game isn't intentionally milking the player with them, the use of micro-transactions can be somewhat reasonable.