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Electronic Arts, THQ Look To Microtransactions 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Forbes: "Electronic Arts, one of the world's largest games publishers, on Monday partnered with microtransactions platform Live Gamer to bolster its online game efforts. ... THQ also announced a partnership with Live Gamer last week to facilitate microtransactions of its online PC and mobile games in North America. ... Worldwide sales of virtual items are expected to reach $7 billion by 2015, according to online games research firm DFC Intelligence. Fast-growing social games companies like Zynga, the maker of FarmVille, are leading the charge. The company is estimated to be pulling in around $600 million in revenue annually, largely from the sale of virtual goods. Americans are also growing comfortable with the microtransactions model. Game companies point to the music industry, where consumers buy 99-cent digital tracks instead of full albums on CDs."
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Electronic Arts, THQ Look To Microtransactions

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:43PM (#33036352)
    for "Nickel-and-Diming"
  • by TrippTDF (513419) <hiland @ g m a> on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:44PM (#33036364)
    So when you think about a microtransaction, you think it's a small amount of money. There are two ways for a studio to profit from this: Either they get a wider group of people paying for a game for less money, or they charge so many micropayments to their core users that it winds up netting out the same as if people just bought the game in the first place. In the former, more people get to enjoy the game for free, but if the game doesn't get REALLY widespread acceptance, then they default to the latter, adding more and more micropayments to people that don't realize how much they are spending until they have dropped $100 or more on the game.

    Should the latter happen, then the whole idea of micropayments will start to look shady and people will avoid any game that employs the tactic. In other words: It's a slippery slope for all but the most popular games.
  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:53PM (#33036510)

    With EA involved expect to pay $69.99 up front for the game, except that the last half is available only for $10 as down loadable content, $14.99 monthly for the subscription, $49.99 every year for the obligatory expansion, $4.99 for each extra map, and then, you can pay $0.10 for each extra click per day.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:54PM (#33036542) Journal

    Yup. They killed a thriving industry, now they're looking to squeeze blood from the stone they made out of that vibrant, resilient hobby. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

    It's gruff, but that's the way I see it. The faster these arrogant publishers go out of business, the quicker we can start over. When they've gone, nothing of value will have been lost.

    This all started with floppy disks and baggies. We don't need Hollywood-style production values to play and enjoy, and we can't abide the cost of corresponding Hollywood-style accounting and mismanagement that goes with it. I don't see the value of adding all that production cost to what amounts to the same crappy FPS, or a makeover on "The Sims."

    Let it die already, fast, the sooner we can all go back to enjoying weird little games in baggies, and maybe find something interesting to play as a result.


  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:57PM (#33036610)
    Who buys movies by the chapter? Everyone who saw Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.
  • by cgenman (325138) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:59PM (#33036648) Homepage

    A big part of microtransactions are lowering the barrier to entry. If you try a bad game, you leave. No money spent. If you try a good game, you stay. Yay for you. This tends to be a more self-regulating system than traditional box sales, where the pee-sale hype determines sales, and a mistake costs the consumer $60.

    Also, why is everybody talking about this as if it is new? Asia has had huge microtransactions games for ten years. The US has had some, with Anarchy Online, Puzzle Pirates, and others being microtransactions based for years.

  • Well, it depends. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:01PM (#33036686) Journal

    This is for the change for Lord of the Rings Online Monthly Subscription/Lifetime membership model to a hybrid form in which you can play for free but have to buy content, similar to what they did with Dungeon & Dragons Online.

    Now, having played the game a lot, I can tell give you a rough impression of the prices involved and what they mean.

    Take dye. 125 points. An outfit consists of 6 items. If you color them all, that is 750 points. IF 100 points are 1 dollar (widely assumed but not yet confirmed) then that is a fairly hefty sum just to color your outfit. And the dyes can also be created in game. If you are willing to pay 750 points, then surely you would be willing to donate say 1 dollar to my paypal account for the dyes?

    Crafting scrolls are even more laughable they give a 15% increase to your critical change when crafting for 30 seconds. Not a long time at all. 40 points. I crank them out by the truckload.

    The content itself is far more expensive 500+ points. There are in the original game: Lone-lands, North Downs, Evendim, Forochel, Trollshaws, Misty Mountains, Angmar. 500+ points per area. Say that it is 5 dollars per area. Then you need to spend 35 dollars... how much did the entire game cost again? Oh, its budget now. 10 euro's...

    So... buy them in the item shop or a real one, 20 dollar difference. And then you get all orginal classes, full character slots no chat limits etc etc.

    Need I go on? It seems pretty clear that the item shop in this case is NOT the cheap option.

    To be true micro transactions such items as a dye need to cost about 1 cent. But that isn't profitable. And how many dyes do they need anyway? So Lotro item mall also has scrolls that give a permanent +30 to any stat. OOOPS! Pay to Win anyone?

    The old fashioned model of box-game with a monthly subscription is simple, the customer knows what he gets and so does the game company. Micro transactions only work on those who can't do maths and for those who are really going to play your game for free.

    I am afraid that for regular games it will be just more of the examples we already seen. Race games were every car has to be bought, RPG's with horse armour for 1/10 of the full game.

    Stop nicke and diming us to death. Gamers are not infinitly stupid and once we caught on it will be to late to change anything. We will have stopped buying and you will have gone bankrupt.

  • by Radtoo (1646729) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:06PM (#33036764)
    But I am sure they want to get MORE money than they would with larger expansions as was done up until now...

    So what do they presumably get from this move?
    • DL on LIVE => No resale.
    • Many people will just buy anything without considering reviews, believing 1.99$ is not worth proper consideration.
    • Maybe they plan to exploit multiplayer gameplay to constantly create forced buys. You do not want to be barred from playing the game with your friends because of missing maps or game mode, do you?
    • Of course only having to create this content for games as long as they're still popular. Live will help them quite accurately measure popularity. If the competition comes out with a hit game that takes most of their market share, their losses are lower than with larger expansions.
  • Insert Credit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ALeavitt (636946) <> on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:08PM (#33036794)
    A huge part of the allure behind home video games in the 70s and 80s was that people could now pay a higher initial cost for the games that they wanted to play and then no longer had to endure microtransactions. It seems that if EA and THQ have their way, we will slowly slide back to the days when we paid for a couple of minutes with a game rather than buying the game itself. After all, it would eliminate the used games market and ensure that developers and publishers get more of our money for less of their product. For a corporate bean-counter, that's a win-win!
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:39PM (#33037222)
    By definition, shouldn't only millionaires think 99 cent songs are microtransactions?
  • by Thirdsin (1046626) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:20PM (#33038050)
    "Yup. They killed a thriving industry..." They killed a thriving industry for US. By US i mean the over 25 group that grew up with the classics and grew up with the system we knew and loved. What is happening now is a slow change, an evolution if you will. In 5 more years the largest part of the player base will not know the system we grew with and loved so much. They will only have been exposed to the industry in front of them, microtransactions and DLC. Gaming is no longer in the domain of the 'geek', it is mainstream. The entire connotation of gaming has changed. We don't like it because the change hasn't been advantageous for US.
  • by gmhowell (26755) <> on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:55PM (#33039436) Homepage Journal

    Basically, you've answered your own question. The alternative is to not play. Sorry if you don't like this, but free marketers never promised free ponies. Not everyone gets to be an astronaut either.

  • Dear EA & THQ, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:40AM (#33040650)

    How's this for an idea?

    How about you develop some games worth buying *FIRST*, and *THEN* work out how you are going to sell them to me?

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell