So this is a topic everyone else weighs in on totally, varying from fans ‘I hate all micro-transactions, everything should be included IN the game’ and to EA’s ‘Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.’ If you read gaming blogs, you already know all the pros and cons, this is just my little rant about my favourite games and how they approach micro-transactions.
I’m a fence-sitter. I think micro-transactions for a game like World of Warcraft works well. It doesn’t affect gameplay, the mounts aren’t faster, the pets aren’t better, the new transmog items have no stats. It’s really just vanity. Another side of WoW’s system is to pay real money for what I think is a bit more ‘changed my mind’ service, race-change, name-change, server-change. Server-change would have the most affect on game play – each server has unique community interplay, auction houses, guilds, and also size (which affects world PVP). For example, on my horde server, transmog items are usually in the thousands, on my alliance server I can’t even give away the most popular sets. Depending on how you play, this would change the game for you, and costs a lot at $25 per character (I have two full realms). There are free server changes sometimes, from full realms to not-so-full realms, but the common complaints are about the sparsely populated realms. I don’t know what is technically involved for moving a character across servers.
My problem is with something like the Sims 3, where not only are there expansion packs and stuff packs already with unique items Sims can interface with, but there is the store as well. Much of the store is hair and clothes, and frankly a lot of user-created content is just as good (or sometimes, better *cough curly hair cough*). The problem comes in the objects that create new play, and sometimes well desired play. On the forums, there is always a lot of talk about the previous Sims 2 expansion pack Open for Business, where you could own and operate a car sales place, a restaurant etc. This hasn’t happened in expansion packs (closest is a Family Day Care centre that you operate in your own home).
But now it’s being released as something from the Sims Store. This is classed as premium content, which often only appears in item packs or sets – all hidden by costing Sim Points rather than a dollar value that shows that the set costs just as much as an expansion, but with only one or two unique objects instead of many new objects and interactions, jobs, buildings, towns, supernatural states etc.
The overall cry is ‘It is a business’. Yes it is! The point is to make money. I’m not going to say it’s not in the company’s best interest to make you spend as much money as possible (although I do think that if Foxtel allowed you to pick say, 5, 10, whatever channels rather than giving everyone useless sports channels, then more people would sign up). But given how much I already spend on the Sims for both expansion and stuff packs (except the Katy Perry one. So many bad reviews!), I don’t want to pay more. And since the Sims 4 is so close with less a year to go, I’ve given up on buying anything Sims 3 anyway. There is the choice not to pay for these extras, but I do feel that if it affects game play, it should be in the boxes/downloads of expansions (or even stuff packs!) we already pay for. For Free-to-Play games, like Star Trek Online, the line is a bit more blurred since you aren’t paying for it in the first place, but personally, I don’t even consider spending money on it.