Microsoft Doesn’t Really Have A Plan For Microtransactions
Just last night, while recording our latest podcast, we discussed microtransactions in Xbox One games and Forza 5 in particular. By definition, these should be small bits of content, items or upgrades which can be purchased for a small fee. There is something fundamentally wrong with your model when a couple of cars cost more than the game itself. Worse yet is when the exorbitant price or insane amount of time required to unlock an item makes it nigh unattainable.
There’s been much outcry about it and Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer has admitted that the company is still figuring out what its strategy will be with regards to microtransactions. In other words, nothing is set in stone and Microsoft is monitoring buying habits which is a good thing.
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Speaking with Kotaku, Spencer suggests that there isn’t a set plan for all titles. He says that the company is still learning, and its monitoring what users are doing with the games.
“I want to be able to learn from what we put in,” Spencer told Kotaku. “So let’s make sure we are crafting the game and the analytics so we can see what the consumers—the gamers—like and don’t—if you assume buying habits are a reflection of what people like. So that we can craft the experience better for the gamer.”
Spencer also confirmed that there wouldn’t be a facility to buy Achievements with real currency. Rest easy, Achievements whores.
Microtransactions have no place in full-priced games, at least not with the model that most developers and publishers seem to opt for. They were present in Assassin’s Creed IV but barely noticeable because they were simply time-savers that hardly cost anything but you could play the game in perfect ignorance to them. That’s how it should be done.
Microsoft is monitoring buying habits to assess whether people are adopting their microtransactions model, so I sincerely hope nobody buys into it. It’s the only way for MS to fully understand that they’ve made a huge mistake. There are cases where a single car can cost over $60 in Forza 5.
If you don’t have a clear strategy and are assessing the situation then valuing individual cars at a price greater than that of the game itself amounts to extortion and is far from the safe or smart option. It’s impossible to fathom what exactly Microsoft was thinking with this one.