Are you a fan of microtransactions in games? If not, then the words of EA COO Peter Moore might not be music to your ears—as he believes one day all games will have them.
Moore is no stranger to the games industry—he previously headed up Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox 360 division, and before that was president of Sega of America. So—while no man can tell the future—one shouldn’t take his comments as being baseless speculation.
What exactly did he say? In an interview with Kotaku, Moore was asked how you balance the concept of games based on microtransactions with the fears some gamers have over that idea creeping into gaming.
“I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free. Ultimately, my goal is… I measure our business in millions of people have bought our game. Maybe when I’m retired, as this industry progresses, hundreds of millions are playing the games. Zero bought it. Hundreds of millions are playing. We’re getting 5 cents, 6 cents ARPU [average revenue per user] a day out of these people. The great majority will never pay us a penny which is perfectly fine with us, but they add to the eco-system and the people who do pay money—the whales as they are affectionately referred to—to use a Las Vegas term, love it because to be number one of a game that like 55 million people playing is a big deal.”
It’s not a crazy thing to believe. Just look at the MMORPG market, where a world once dominated by monthly subscription fees has found far more success in going the free-to-play route.
Imagine this: What if the next Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Killzone was free to own? And then, to unlock pieces of the game, you might end up paying as much as you would for the game under normal circumstances? When bringing riskier titles to market, it may make sense to lower that cost of entry in order to encourage more players to try the game out.
Couldn’t major titles like those that I just listed do so as well, however? I might be curious to try out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3—but not enough to pay full price for it. Give me more than just a demo—give me a fully-functioning game that is just lacking on options or customization—and I could get hooked. Hooked enough, Activision would hope, to then spend the money to flesh out my copy—giving the publisher money they would never have had from me in the first place.
That is one of the big questions: What is the difference between a game that costs $60 and is complete, and a game that costs $0 but then requires $60 to make complete? If the end result is a lack of difference, then doesn’t the second option potentially bring more players in? Or do you lose more guaranteed sales that way, versus snagging the $60 from those who are sure to give it to you?
What do you think? Would a future where all games are free, but require micro transactions to unlock everything, be a good or bad thing for gaming?