Many people are upset with the game industry at the moment, and rightfully so. We are in a situation where some companies are grasping at lootboxes and microtransactions as excuses for getting more funding for games. There are claims that they can not remain profitable unless they offer these sorts of add-ons to entice people into giving up more money for intangible cosmetic items or easier paths to victory. Yet even in this darkness, there are signs of the light shining through. Some companies are embracing a sense of transparency with their games that could be a beacon leading to better days.
The biggest deal in this fight for what is right is surprisingly Sony and Santa Monica Studio. When asked about God of War having any sort of microtransaction to attempt to entice people into spending more on the game, Cory Barlog, Santa Monica Studio’s Creative Director, offered a resounding, “No freakin way!!!” This sort of candid and transparent behavior is encouraging. People pose a valid concern about a title. They ask if God of War will ask for more even after spending $70 on it. Their fears are allayed and they have the security of knowing their new game is going to offer everything they need without any extra fees.
Far Cry 5 is another instance where we are going to be going in knowing exactly what we will get. Ubisoft recently confirmed that there will be absolutely no loot boxes in the game. You will not need to gamble at the chance of getting what you want. There will be microtransactions, but at least the company was upfront about this. Silver Bars will be able to be found in the game and purchased with real cash, then exchanged for cosmetic items like clothes and weapon skins or prestige weapons and vehicles. While having those extras may be a bit of a downer, knowing that at least we know exactly what we are getting for our currency, and that said currency could be found in the game or purchased, is something of a comfort in a world where too many games go with the loot box approach.
There are even rumblings that EA has learned its lesson. Lots of Battlefield V rumors have been floating about. One of the best is that the game is going to have microtransaction. These are supposedly going to only be cosmetic. That means no special weapons, preferential treatment, or loot boxes. Considering Battlefield 1 went with a microtransaction strategy, this makes sense. And again shows a move toward transparency.
We railed against microtransactions for years. But now that loot boxes exist, they are the lesser evil. Seeing companies willing to forgo any such sort of add-on, like Sony, or at least be clear about what the add-ons are and what they will do, in the case of Far Cry 5 and Battlefield V are refreshing. They signal a shift in offering people clear and defined items after a brief period where every company wanted to shove a loot box in everything and keep getting money as people shoved more and more money into the system in the hopes of getting the one item they wanted.
Consumers deserve honesty. We should know exactly what will be in these games we are spending a substantial amount of our time and money on. Companies should be clear about what will and won’t be included. Add-ons are fine, if handled properly. Let us know what will be there. Excluding any sort of microtransaction is best. Being upfront about ones that are there and making them largely cosmetic is better. Don’t be like Star Wars: Battlefront II or other loot box-obsessed games. Be up front with folks.