Gamer Limit Banner

["Stop It" is a weekly feature which serves as a forum for me to express my opinions on things in the video game industry or community that need to stop. Despite the fact these things may never stop, this will, at the least, fuel discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

Let me first say that I am not opposing microtransactions in their entirety. In my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to implement them. It is the greedy implementation which impacts gameplay that I cannot agree with.

Microtransactions are a great way for games to bring in a steady stream of profit for extra elements of a game. However, those games that have allowed game design to be altered by microtransactions are undoubtedly the wrong way to go about it. Stop it!

Free-to-play games are slowly becoming a great way to enjoy games today. Games such as Farmville, D&D Online, and more are providing gamers with options. These options are exactly what the word entails: optional.

Farmville is one of the best examples the gaming industry has to date of a way to properly design a game such that users are not forced into microtransactions. In the case of Farmville, impatience is the driving factor behind the appeal of microtransactions. And thus the experience is in no way impacted by those with patience and resourcefulness.

As with most of these types of games, there will be “special” items that have their individual benefits to the game. But the best thing about these offerings are that they are in no way required to continue to enjoy that rich, rewarding experience we all look for in games. Again, these microtransactions are optional, albeit appealing.

The iPhone is a perfect platform for games based around microtransactions. When faced with the option, in the heat of a short gaming session, the less than a dollar offering is extremely enticing. There are some that not only make it appealing but almost essential, and for that I say stop it!

Eliminate is a great example of a game that is centered around microtransactions. This handheld FPS is an extremely addictive game. However, the game is designed around these microtransactions and because of that it has altered one of the most important elements of any multiplayer game: balance.

With options of purchasing additional energy and items, players that give in to these microtransactions affect the balance in matches. Basically, any multiplayer game that offers these types of incentives for players willing to cough up some extra money run a risk of balancing issues. For most of these games though, the game isn’t rebalanced to take into account these players. And because of that, game design is driven by microtransactions – which I view as poor design.

Outside of the iPhone platform, THQ and EA continue to drive the effects microtransactions have on games. But without getting into some of the more obvious ones like limited use game boosters, it is the ones that are clearly driven to force the gamer into utilizing microtransactions to get the complete experience that I find inexcusable. Lately, there is no better example that I can think of than the Madden Ultimate Team mode in Madden NFL 11.

Since I received the game roughly two and a half weeks ago, I have played Madden NFL 11 for over 60 hours. In fact, I expect to get the most playtime out of this year’s Madden than any prior entry in the series. Out of all that time spent, a lot of it has been in the Madden Ultimate Team mode (M.U.T.).

For those who aren’t familiar, M.U.T. allows gamers to start off with a set of cards that act as players on your team. Through use of the auction house and playing games, you gather coins to purchase more cards. These cards can be purchased in individual packs or from the auction house. However, EA designed this mode such that you are almost forced to purchase coins to progress.

Currently my team is rated in the low 80s, which in all honesty is quite good. A majority of my coins have come from taking advantage of the auction house when the game first launched. I had received some very good cards from packs and quickly flipped them for a profit. Despite this, I have hit a wall.

Since release, the auction house has become extremely saturated. This is due entirely to the way that EA designed this game mode. When selling a card you are not only forced to have an extremely high posting price but also a minimum at which each card can be posted. Should no one purchase your auctioned card, you lose the coins spent to post the auction.

Because of these limits set on minimum and maximum starting prices, the auction house has quickly become flooded with cards posted at the bare minimum. And because it is the “best” option, it is almost impossible to sell cards now. In turn, you are forced to seriously take into account microtransactions.

From what I have read on EA forums, these minimum and maximum post prices set by EA will not change – despite the number of users complaining. This isn’t because EA feels it is the best way to balance the game mode, but instead it is the best way for them to make some money. Even though that hasn’t been clearly stated as the reason, it is more than obvious when a game mode is designed like this.

A game mode I thoroughly enjoyed last year has become completely broken, and for those game designers out there that explore this avenue, I say stop it! To ruin an experience in any game simply because of greed is absurd. There are much better ways to design a game and properly implement microtransactions. Just make sure that all options are exhausted before you sell out.

  1. avatar R.S. Hunter

    A good read. I don’t have much of an opinion on the matter. I’ve never played Farmville so I’m not even entirely sure how the gameplay works. I haven’t played a Madden game since 06 I believe so your example was a little over my head.

    I think it is just inherent in my nature to be suspicious of things that cost extra money like microtransactions.

  2. avatar Rob

    The thing that really pisses me off about this stuff is when they take out features that have been free in the past and make you pay for them. Again, EA and Madden is the main culprit. You can now purchase a scouting report for an online opponent. Are you kidding me? You could get this for free way back in NFL 2k5. Not only could you get a scouting report, you could download their playing tendencies and play a game against the CPU where the CPU would use those tendencies. Here we are 5 years later and they are trying to make us pay for this feature.

  3. avatar Ferahtsu

    At least EA isn’t stacking pay-to-play on top of microtransactions.

    • avatar Tasya

      Yay for it finally gttnieg cold enough in so ca for fall clothes! It finally cooled off today, so I can wear my fur vest and I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself Love the beanie on you! super cute

    • avatar Cristal

      By January 7, 2011 – 10:05 pmTachevert wrote: 2010 will also be remembered as the year Tuebit ddceeid to hide from this blog! (I suppose that could instead be phrased as “found success in real-life endeavors, limiting blog-posting time” instead, but being incendiary is more fun.)I don’t know if I’d call what I’m doing success in real-life endeavors , but it certainly is limiting. The biggest change for me in 2010 is that it is the first year since 1998 ish that I haven’t played a MMO. Even during previous breaks, I was at least *trying* other MMO’s. Mostly, it’s a time thing. But also, there isn’t anything that calls to me. Here’s looking forward to a great 2011. Graduation (hopefully), a new career (hopefully), and maybe a game, again!

  4. It was another EA Sports game which was the last straw for me when it came to microtransactions: NHL 10. The fact that people can just purchase gear and boosts infuriated me. Why can’t the players all just start with a finite number of experience points, and then people can allot them as they wish in order to suit their playstyles? I’m trying to play hockey, not a friggin’ RPG. The games are better when everyone has the same amount of character skill such that player skill, and team play, decide who wins or loses.

    Of course, with all the glitch goals and other nonsense that’s still rampant in the NHL games, this is just one complaint of many…

    • avatar Ruwan

      100 for the arcade30 for the creotollnr15for the memory card25 for juiced 215 for r6v30 for m0940 for gta (EB GAMES)15 for the arcade games10 for the headsetyou could get up to 300 for all of them if they are in excellent condition the only ones im not sure about are the hd, headset, gta game and memory card. i would look on ebay for similar items to get a better baseline price on them. The person answering before is incorrect about most of the prices.

  5. avatar angrypapi

    Nice piece Kevin. I am also getting more game time out of Madden than in recent years due to MUT. I must say though, while the mode does take advantage of people looking for a quick fix to get a high rated team, the user who is looking to play for free can still be accommodated.

    The issue is whether or not you are willing or able to devote more time to team maintenance than actually playing.

    Purchasing low level “packs” of cards and using the cards to complete collections or hawk on the AH can provide a steady stream of “revenue”.

    Also, as the matchmaking for head to head games currently matches you up with someone of the same approximate overall skill level, you can proceed at your own pace and still enjoy online play.

    The issue for me will be when the 2:1 time ratio for GM time to play time just becomes tedious, at which point I’ll go back to regular ranked online play.

    As Dennis mentions above, the day that some dude can pay 3 bucks and unleash his Custom Chris Johnson with extra tackle breaking ability in ranked online play will be the day I finally go into franchise mode, never to return…

  6. avatar Laquisha

    There is a critical shortage of inrfmoative articles like this.

  7. avatar Emeka

    Thanks for your post. I would also love to comment that the first thing you will need to peofrrm is determine whether you really need credit repair. To do that you will have to get your hands on a copy of your credit history. That should really not be difficult, because the government necessitates that you are allowed to obtain one free of charge copy of your real credit report every year. You just have to ask the right individuals. You can either check out the website for your Federal Trade Commission or contact one of the major credit agencies specifically.

  8. avatar Elvira

    Now it is free to anyone who wishes to use it and it has become one of the most popular free web based e-mail services on the internet.
    The testing that I want to focus on now is more basic ‘ you need
    to test in order to ensure that your email actually works.

    I typically like to enter @domainname I figure I want
    to have the same label on all emails from that domain.

    My website :: verified gmail accounts

Leave a Reply