Today I've got two subjects that I never really thought would go together: microtransactions and Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip. If you'll bear with me, I will divulge the details of this strange pairing. First, let us start with the dreaded microtransaction. Just about every consumer hates them and believe you me, the developers don't really like them any more than we do. It all comes down to the touchy topic of money. Developers have to recoup their costs in making the game, and a profit somewhere tends to be nice when you want to feed your children or maybe even yourself.
The easiest way to make this profit, while keeping the general cost of the game down for the consumer, is through microtransactions. This allows players the option to pay what they want. I might dump a couple bucks here and there into a mobile game that I really enjoy in an effort to make progress faster. Or I might just endure the time limits, watch the ads or deal with other such set-backs without putting money into the game. It's really up to me. There's even some people that spend thousands of dollars on games. One Pokemon Go player recently spent $2,400 on the game's microtransactions. People get to decide what they pay.
The anger-inducing issue is that there are those who are able to put lots of money into a game and have a seemingly better experience than you. While you're working hard visiting PokeStops for meager amounts of Pokeballs, other people could plop down $10 or 20 and not have to walk a step for those same items. This almost certainly wears on developers just as much as it does players. They have to constantly worry about alienating the fan base with too many paid advantages. On top of that they have to make sure they come up with enough ways to make money so they can get paid.
Let's all take a collective deep breath before we move on to the lighter part of our discussion here. Leave your negative (or maybe even positive!) feelings about microtransactions on the sidelines for a moment. This is where the Snoopy connection comes in. Mobile game publisher Jam City released a game called Snoopy Pop. It's similar to Snood or the Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble games. While it makes for a very basic game, there's the added bonus of Peanuts branding. Snoopy has to pop the bubbles in the game to save a trapped Woodstock, as well as other similarly captured bird friends. It's a cute game to be sure and is bound to be popular with fans of Peanuts, as well as those who are looking for a casual gaming experience.
How do these two subjects match up? Snoopy Pop publisher Jam City has pledged that up to $100,000 in sales from microtransactions in the game will go to a charity. The lucky organization in question is Canine Companions for Independence, which matches up trained assistance dogs with disabled children, adults, and veterans. So if you're enjoying the game and decide to spend a dollar or two on Snoopy Pop coins to use on boosters, you'll know that you're doing some good.
This, my friends, is absolutely the happy meeting ground between players and developers when it comes to microtransactions. The infuriating system now has a softer side. Rather than being angry that developers seem to be reaching into our wallets and taking our money, we see adorable dogs being matched up with military veterans. Say a mobile game with a medical theme takes money from microtransactions and donates it to Doctors Without Borders. I can't speak for all of us, but I know that would make me more likely to contribute cash. It's a relatively easy way to take a once hated feature and give it a brighter outlook.
Would you be more likely to buy something from a microtransaction within a game if you knew it would be benefiting a charity? Do you think this is something that could or should be adopted across the board? Or are there only certain games that could pull off something like this? I'd love to hear your thoughts!