Skip to content

This week’s “Extra Credits” is a particularly good one, insightful at a level that an amateur observer of the electronic games industry, like me, can digest. It treats the free-to-play business model for games, which allows players to play a game for free but gets them to cough up their dough for microtransactions: small purchases that grant access to new content, better gear, customized graphics, whatever the game company thinks it can sell, and which can add up to more money than the cost of the game alone might.

It’s a business model that draws a lot of suspicion from players, who fear getting ripped off, and especially fear losing the game to an inferior player with lots of money to throw around for game advantages. The “Extra Credits” team acknowledges these problems, but argue that microtransactions don’t necessarily mean player abuse, and offer their plan for making good games with profitable microtransactions. As I say, it’s an excellent analysis.

Perhaps it seems particularly salient to me because it describes the market generally in terms that match me specifically. I, too, am suspicious of hidden costs and victory for sale. I am put off by innocuous offers like the infamous $70 monocle, which has no game effect and can be ignored without penalty, if they seem predatory—preying upon the addicts, kids, and the gullible. Like the reluctant producers the article cites, I wonder where the money to support the game will come from if cheap bastards like me can get the whole experience without paying.

But, as I wrote yesterday, I took WoW out for a free-to-play spin after departing the game as a paying customer a couple years back, and it’s been fun. Fun enough for me at least to consider restarting my subscription. It’s not likely to happen, but if I’m tempted, many will buy. And yup, conveniences like bag space and faster mounts that at first seem unnecessary begin to look worth $5 or $10. The psychology works. If a game is good, good enough to win me over and get emotional investment, it will get my financial investment, especially if—again, as the article puts it—I feel the producers have already given me a fair shake.

I’m never buying a $70 costume, though. Never.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *