EA and Microtransactions

Ooops

Backtracking about their statement regarding microtransactions, EA is.

First, let’s rewind to late June of last year when Stephen Totilo interviewed Peter Moore, COO of EA.

Kotaku: “How do you balance the effectiveness of any microtransaction-based game design or business model with the anxiety a gamer might feel that they’re being nickel and dimed?”

Moore: “I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free. Ultimately, my goal is… I measure our business in millions of people have bought our game. Maybe when I’m retired, as this industry progresses, hundreds of millions are playing the games. Zero bought it. Hundreds of millions are playing. We’re getting 5 cents, 6 cents ARPU [average revenue per user] a day out of these people. The great majority will never pay us a penny which is perfectly fine with us, but they add to the eco-system and the people who do pay money—the whales as they are affectionately referred to—to use a Las Vegas term, love it because to be number one of a game that like 55 million people playing is a big deal.”

And just last week, CFO of EA Blake Jorgensen stated, and this is quoted from Gamasutra, that “EA is now looking to incorporate in-app purchases into all its games, ‘either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be.’”

Now  Jorgensen is backtracking.

“I made a statement in the conference along the lines of ‘We’ll have microtransactions in our games,’ and the community read that to be ‘all games,’ and that’s really not true. All of our mobile games will have microtransactions in them, because almost all of our mobile games are going to a world where its play-for-free.”

“You’re going to see extensions off of products like Battlefield Premium which are simply not microtransactions. They are premium services, or additional add-on products or download that we’re doing… it is essentially an extension of the gameplay that allows someone to take a game that they might have played for a thousand hours, and play it for two thousand hours. We want to ensure that consumers are getting value.”

I’m not a fan of microtransactions unless they’re done correctly. For example, if that means I have the choice of working just a little harder to find ammo or the choice of coughing up an IRL dollar to have it magically and immediately placed into my inventory, then whatever. That doesn’t bother me. I think that’s a perfect example of non-intrusive microtransactions, as I don’t need to pay to find extra ammo. I just have to work a little harder to find it.

Now, if the game were so blatantly tailored for microtransactions that I had to purchase additional ammo in order to proceed I’d have a problem. If I feel like I’m being deprived of an in-game experience (“Pay two dollars to gain access to this room! It’s just like every other room, but slightly cooler!”) OR, like I said above,  if the game is blatantly tailored for microtransactions and I’m forced to pay for convenience (“Pay five dollars to receive the only weapon that will give you a fighting chance against the final boss!”), I’m not a happy Britt.

I suppose there’s a fine line between “acceptable” microtransactions and “annoying” microtransactions, and obviously every opinion is different depending on who you talk to. So, I’d like to know what you think about microtransactions. Are you all for ‘em? Against them? Does it depend on what’s being offered?

Also, you should read this if you have a moment: Real Racing 3 infuriates with $500 of microtransactions.

Yeah, it’s pretty brutal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/quiksilver723 Nick Burrell

    I too don’t really care too much about microtransactions as they’re being done at the moment. In Dead Space 3 I could pay real money for additional resources, or as you mentioned, I can work a little harder/longer and save up ration seals from my bots and use those to purchase more resources. So I haven’t spent a single cent other than what I paid for the game but am getting pretty much the same experience.

  • http://twitter.com/jonny_boy103 John Terry

    I am not a fan of “pay to win” microtransactions as well. But i actually do use them. In Mass Effect 3′s MP, they let you buy the different packs for real money. I was all over that. I love bioware, id give them all my monies if i could!

  • http://twitter.com/dpfeif Dan Pfeiffer

    I’m dreading that inevitable day that is coming when we WILL have to start paying extra for items in order to progress in a game, otherwise you’re stuck.

  • Jimmer

    I don’t mind having the option to throw a few bucks at a game to get some cool extra gear or items here and there. What I don’t like the idea of is incorporating micro-transactions so that one person can have an advantage over others based on how much money they’ve spent. Or, like Britt said, when the game is built around micro-transactions. I hate that. I’ve played a couple games on the iOS that were great until I hit that point after a couple hours where I literally could not make any more progress unless I bought new weapons and gear. Not cool, man. The current model of most free-to-play games right now is pretty nice. Either play the game a lot and earn your stuff the long way or spend some cash and get cool stuff right meow.

  • SoC

    Hey britt check out the simcity burning artcle on ign you if think micro transactions are bad. it’s very sad and they want consoles to do this to?

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.coyne.125 Daniel Coyne

    Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, anyone? That kind of crap totally sours me for the developer. Period.