Are Microtransactions a Blood-Sucking Monster?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

There has been a lot of trouble recently regarding systems within games that function mostly to get more money out of buyers. It's a natural progression within the video game industry, which is always trying to evolve. Wherever more money can be made, it's sure to be pursued. Much like film series that breaks one entry into two films. You can make more money that way, so why wouldn't you?  Well the same can be said of video games. At first, you would buy a title and that would be it. Then there were expansions, commonly referred to as DLC nowadays. There were also special/Game of the Year/collector's editions that would round everything up into a nice package. We accepted all of these things, because they were a positive experience for us. We got more awesome stuff related to our favorite game, and we paid for it because it was a service we wanted to receive.

This same process is true in modern gaming. We accept evolution, because we are excited by change. It means things we haven't seen before and new experiences to enjoy. Nothing wrong with that! It all seems innocent enough, but even the smallest, most adorable little puppy can turn into a raging beast. For games, that saccharine sweet dog is cosmetic items, loot boxes, and in-game currency. When these things first arrived, we thought they were awesome. There are items I can buy that make my character look different than Joe Schmo over here? That's great! I can buy virtual grab bags that will award me items that will help in my game? Fantastic! There's a special form of money I can buy that allows me to purchase things other people don't have access to? That sounds wonderful.


All of these things were great when they began. We bought them up in droves and enjoyed it all to the fullest. At the least I know I'm a grab bag addict. It's the one thing at a convention, flea market, or discount store that is guaranteed to drag me in. You spend $10 and you get $25 worth of merchandise, so where's the negative here?! Well the negative is that grab bags and loot boxes give us a sense of immediate gratification, which can be highly addictive. We buy loot boxes because we want to see what's inside them. It's the thought of the unknown that drives us, and we aren't afraid to spend real money to discover what we're missing.

It's because of this that we've lead to the massive influx of loot boxes/crates within video games. Companies gave them a try and people loved and wanted to keep buying them, hence the explosion. The little puppy that we thought was so cute has turned into a rabid Cerberus that raises its three terrifying heads every chance it gets. We're practically choking on chance items in games at this point. There's no need to buy these items (most developers realize how much players hate pay-to-win schemes nowadays), yet they're still fun to buy if you have the extra cash. It's because of this outlook that loot box inclusion has gotten to the hysteric level that it is today.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

We can transfer the same concept to skin trading. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the worst offenders in this realm. People spend real money on these skins, then gamble them amongst themselves. This type of actual gambling is illegal for minors to participate in, but it can be harder to police than in real-life. There have even been lawsuits related to CS:GO's skin gambling. This sort of thing would have never existed without the in-game economics that exist today.

So what do we do? In-game currency, loot boxes, and cosmetic items have gotten out of control. You can hardly throw a rock at a pile of new games without hitting at least a one that has these types of purchases. The stack will continue to grow until we take a stand. If you don't think loot boxes should exist and that cosmetics should be part of the base game, not an additional purchase, then don't buy them. There is really nothing more that speaks to businesses than money. If there isn't any to be made, they'll move on to something different. That's what needs to happen to the types of purchases that people are starting to abhor in video games. Don't buy those loot boxes, and eventually the developers and publishers will move on to some new fad.

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 10/20/2017

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