EA Announces All Future Games Will Use Microtransactions

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News Posted: Thu, Feb 28 2013 1:43 PM
According to EA's Chief Financial Officer, Blake Jorgensen, all future games from the company will include microtransactions in a bid to further monetize the product. "We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be," Jorgensen said. "Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business."

Jorgensen acknowledged the security challenges inherent to processing microtransactions in a server backend, but claims EA has plan in place to mitigate the potential risk. "If you're doing microtransactions and you're processing credit cards for every one of those microtransactions you'll get eaten alive," he said. "And so Rajat's team has built an amazing backend to manage that and manage that much more profitably. We've outsourced a lot of that stuff historically; we're bringing that all in-house now."

Whatever Happened to Free-to-Play?

Originally, microtransactions were billed as a way for first-party titles to go F2P without critically endangering their revenue streams. MMO's and mobile games may have led the charge, and the F2P model isn't a perfect fit for all games, but the original concept was that microtransactions were a replacement for other revenue streams -- not a charge that got piled on top.

The problem with microtransactions is that they can easily distort the concept of game balance in both single-player and multi-player titles. The multi-player problem is obvious -- if you sell features that can change game balance, you can create two classes of players -- those that pay for gear, and those that don't. Even if the people paying for gear can eventually earn the same items, you typically earn the most points by winning matches. If you're constantly on the losing side, you're doomed to never catch up.



The single-player problem is more insidious. Monetizing gear/state upgrades gives the developer good reason  not to award the same items to players. Dark Meadow: The Pact, a mobile game for iOS and Android, flubbed this aspect badly. If you weren't willing to buy Sun Coins with real money, it took hours and hours of grinding to build up the supply of gear you needed to take on the end boss.

To be fair, most game developers have shied away from egregious violations of this principle, but we suspect customers are less willing to tolerate monetization in $59 titles than EA thinks they are. Dead Space 3''s decision to include microtransactions kicked up significant protest from gamers, even though the feature was implemented in a fairly non-invasive way. Unless this new model is deployed alongside significant price cuts for new games, it could easily spark a consumer backlash -- especially if developers try to create a premium tier of armor or weapons that can only be purchased rather than found in-game.
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RWilliams replied on Thu, Feb 28 2013 1:59 PM

This doesn't come as much of a surprise. The first time I ever saw DLC (as it's today considered) was in 2005, with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, for the Xbox 360. Shock... an EA title. At the time, I was appalled with the fact that you could purchase cars that you would have unlocked with the normal progression of the game. Oddly, the game itself wasn't really that difficult, so I am not sure why anyone would have actually bought into that, but the concept alone bugged me.

I am not at all opposed to all DLC, because a lot of is great. Take Borderlands 2's DLC for example (not the stupid outfits). Some DLC could in fact be called Expansion Packs, but that seems to be a term that's died, with DLC taking over.

What I hate is DLC that I feel like I -need- to buy just to progress in a game. On the mobile side, this is extremely common, and it's reached a point where I simply will -not- download a "free" game, because it's NEVER free. I'm old-school... I like purchasing a game and that be it. The last thing I want to do late at night while stuck at a tough part in a game is haul out my credit card. The mere thought of that is still ridiculous to me.

Of course, micro-transactions go beyond cheats of course. Valve has proven that with Team Fortress 2. Even so, the concept still drives me bonkers, and of -course- it's EA trying to spearhead the movement to make it even more common than it already is. Next up? Activision. Ubisoft. Then it will really be unavoidable.

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Dorkstar replied on Thu, Feb 28 2013 2:15 PM

I'm with you on this one RWilliams, however some games have done it right. Planetside 2 for instance really only gives you cosmetic unlocks with micro transactions, with the exception of unlocking weapons (however you still have to work to unlock all the attachments that make them worth using). I'd say that game is rather balanced, sure spending some money will give you a slight edge over other players, but at least it's not like APB (All post bulletin), where buying guns on their stores made you over powered in comparison to players who didn't pay anything.

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realneil replied on Thu, Feb 28 2013 7:51 PM

No way,...they can Micro-Stuff-It.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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SmogHog replied on Thu, Feb 28 2013 10:19 PM

EA is always trying their best to hold onto the title of "Most Hated/Worst Company In America".

http://consumerist.com/2012/04/04/congratulations-ea-you-are-the-worst-company-in-america-for-2012/

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Seems like the payment systems for online transactions is getting even more fractured

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The whole idea of paying $59 for a game and then having to pay for DLC content just to be able to compete is ridiculous. I'm with RW on this one. When I buy a game I want it to be a done transaction. Buy the game play the game. I can see an expansion pack coming out every year giving the game more features like maps, weapons, etc and charging a flat rate for it. EA has grown so money hungry that they are cutting every corner they can and coming up with every possible way to stick it to the gamer. This type of DLC model is a shady business model. I hope other companies do not follow this practice.

And before people start saying that they can get away with this because I'd still keep buying there games think again. There are plenty of titles before this DLC thing hit, and plenty of retro games to play out there.

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KOwen replied on Fri, Mar 1 2013 2:06 PM

Why would EA announce that they will include microtransactions in all future games? Are they really so naive about their customer base's true feelings or do they just not care about appearance anymore? They might as well have just stated "We will force all game programmers/designers to include features in their games that will limit their creativity and waste their time while degrading the integrity of the IP in order to appeal to the corporate structure of EA and increase our profit gain".

"Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of business". You could at least try to hide that massive greed boner you got goin' there EA.

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Exactly!! Why do I have to pay for something extra that's already on this disc waiting to be unlocked? This is nothing but a cash cow for EA, and their customers whoever is left DON'T deserve this at all!! Whatever happened to buying a game and having that content unlocked while you PROGRESS in a game? Personally, I like GameShark or Action Replay as you could unlock things that were already on a disc. Sigh, I miss the good old days of the PS2/Dreamcast...

Sure! You can ta***e my tech toys when you pry it from my cold dead hands!!!

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No, just no. This is why almost every game I'm playing lately is an indie. Almost every AAA title I have tried in the last few years has left me bored to tears. They are almost all build on rails, with little to no player choice, horrid acting, and crappy game play. The only thing they have going for them is graphics.

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