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Can Microtransactions Ruin Console Gaming?

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Written by Adam on Saturday, February 03 2007

I’m going to open with a quick true story.

The other day my girlfriend was playing need for speed carbon on the Xbox 360. She was barely winning races and not making enough money for any major upgrades. While in the garage menu she noticed a tab for the marketplace. Once clicked, a list of goodies ranging from suped up cars to engine upgrades and decals popped up. She picked up a car and hit the road. After purchasing this car she began to win every race with ease, all the while earning enough money to upgrade all the cars she had won. This is where the problem lies. The purchased car is far beyond her playing level, thus giving no reason to ever play with the new cars she has won.

Did that purchase just ruin the fun factor of the game?

Some may argue that it does, but others may disagree and say “it’s optional to purchase” -- which is true, of course. Was this all intentional by the developers? I’m talking about making sure the gamer will get frustrated with the limited resources and then take a look in the marketplace “cookie jar.”

She then decided to upgrade the purchased car, but all features were still locked, so it then threw her back into the marketplace to purchase upgrades.

Microtransactions have quickly become the re-link between game developers and the consumer. This new form of revenue opens the door for some developers to take shortcuts. We could see the next splinter cell’s Sam fisher in a warehouse with 10 enemies and all he has is a rifle, but in the marketplace, you can buy a silencer for that rifle. This is what I fear will happen. Items which normally are part of the game will be reserved for sale via any console virtual store (Sony & Nintendo confirmed future titles will have microtransactions).

Here is, by far, the worst microtransactions issue to-date. For those of you who have played “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter” for Xbox 360 and picked up the add-on pack, did you notice something strange? Meaning, did you notice that you could no longer play with some of your online friends because they didn’t purchase the pack? That’s right -- after purchasing the add-on you are put into a different category and can no longer play with gamers that had the original retail version only. This is outrageous! The publisher and developer are basically forcing gamers to purchase the add-on if they ever plan on playing with friends who have already upgraded.

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