Sometimes, it can feel like there is a war waging in the realm of games and their DLC. Companies want to nickel and dime us. Consumers want to fight back somehow to show they are not going to cave in to greed. There is a constant back and forth, but it always seemed like the developers and publishers were winning. But maybe things are not so bad. There is still a chance we could come out ahead in this fight, even if a total win is impossible.
Microtransactions are here to stay. They’re too profitable not to. Companies are going to bank on anything they can make bank off of. But moves from higher ups are encourage. That Square Enix is speaking up about the practice and governments are getting involved is a good thing. It could mean a future where things aren’t as intrusive as before, even if they do still end up existing in our favorite games.
Square Enix recently made a major pledge. It’s CEO, Yosuke Matsuda, said that it does not plan to plan to put microtransactions in console games. In the interview with MCV, he basically said that DLC is fine, but that people have certain expectations from the company’s console games. It is a major commitment to make when so many titles are seeing when they can shove in add-ons and how much they can profit off of them.
This is notable because of issues with past Square Enix games. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a good example. This was a game with single and multiplayer components. However, microtransactions were present in both parts. People could purchase Praxis Kits for the main game or Chipset Packs for the Breach mode with real money. If Square Enix sticks with this commitment, this would mean the former might not exist in the company’s future, single player experiences. Considering Final Fantasy XV is free of such things, it seems like a promise the company could keep.
There is the governmental side of things to consider. Multiple countries are considering some sort of regulation in regards to such DLC. Many microtransactions appear in loot box form, after all, and that’s opened up a debate as to whether it is gambling. China has banned publishers from selling “lottery ticket”-like loot boxes. Belgium and France are both currently investigating into whether or not it considers Overwatch and Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes gambling. And in the United States, Hawaii state representative Chris Lee tried to put together a plan that would keep games with “gambling mechanisms,” aka these loot box microtransactions, out of the hands of people under 21.
A strong force is fighting on the side of good. By which I mean, the one in which people aren’t constantly bombarded with in-app purchases for small, things that could be as meaningless as customization options or as egregious as game-breaking equipment. Maybe, with the threat of government regulation and some publishers coming forward to say they won’t pursue obnoxious microtransactions, a new and more healthy precedent could be set.