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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

EA Building Microtransactions Into All of Its Future Games 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Develop reports on comments from Blake Jorgensen, Electronic Arts' Chief Financial Officer, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. As you may have guessed from the name of the conference, the business aspect of EA was the topic. Jorgensen said, 'The next and much bigger piece [of the business] is microtransactions within games. ... We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.' This is particularly distressing given EA's recent implementation of microtransations in Dead Space 3, where you can spend money to improve your weaponry."
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EA Building Microtransactions Into All of Its Future Games

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  • by Lisias (447563) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @07:58PM (#43029969) Homepage Journal

    As long you you didn't pay for the "retail" version (a.k.a. DVD / Blueray delivered ones), I don't see a problem. The developers has to be paid somehow, and if some people wants to pay for their games this way, no problem.

    But if I pay the full retail price, I expect to be able to enjoy the game in full experience. Paying twice for the privilege of playing an already paid game is not an option for me. It shouldn't even be allowed, at first place.

  • Easy for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:09PM (#43030081)

    I refuse to play games with microtrasactions. Erased my favorite game that I had paid for from my phone when the develop implemented them. This will make decisions in the future easier, EA logo = Bad.

  • Planetside 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StormyWeather (543593) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:09PM (#43030099) Homepage

    I personally like how ps2 does this. Weapons can be purchased or cert points can be used. Most default guns are great with some certs put into them, but the other guns are more situational sidegrades. I played a month before spending a dime and didnt feel abused, now I subscribe because I decided I enjoy the game and decided I want to support it. The developers are highly accessible yet firm on decisions. I have seen a few plqyer ideas directly impact the development course of action.

    Now, microtransactions in a full retail game? Fuck that. I wont buy it even to give it a chance.

  • Re:And.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:11PM (#43030113) Homepage

    Course not.

    Oh and in 6 months time they will add advertising to their games as well.
    No the retail price won't change with that either.

  • by klingers48 (968406) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:11PM (#43030115)
    "Moving forward we will balance and tune all our releases towards deliberately-engineered artificial resource scarcity. This will in turn incentivise you opening your wallet to get your game back towards a playable state.

    "Please form an orderly queue at the money pit."
  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:19PM (#43030173)

    Why is it bad? Is this another one of those things where everyone assumes it's a competitive multiplayer shootemup and you're worried about not keeping up? The issue in single players is irrelevant unless the base game without microtransactions is not fun.

  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:39PM (#43030313)

    Why? I can see how this would be disastrous in multiplayer, but in single player, being able to buy things to avoid having to grind for them isn't bad, assuming:

    1) The cost is reasonable.
    2) They don't screw with the game mechanics to make people more likely to want to purchase things.
    3) The same content can be unlocked with effort/talent rather than money.

    I can think of several games (JRPGs are notoriously bad with this) where to get a certain item or to get to a certain boss, the process was basically "spend 10 hours doing mindless tasks". Currently, there are two choices: don't see the content, or spend valuable time on meaningless tasks unlocking it. Microtransactions provide a third choice.

    Again, I want to reiterate that this should always be OPTIONAL, and that the mechanics of the game shouldn't be changed to force people into it. Traditional games should not be turned into Zynga abusefests.

  • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:41PM (#43030329)

    As long you you didn't pay for the "retail" version (a.k.a. DVD / Blueray delivered ones), I don't see a problem. The developers has to be paid somehow, and if some people wants to pay for their games this way, no problem.

    So you are against the First-sale Doctrine. [wikipedia.org] Ok. That is a common thing these days from people who don't fully understand and or have a much more right wing view of copyright.

    I assume you are looking to repeal that also so that books, movies, and all the other things that it covers are changed as well?

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @08:57PM (#43030449) Homepage Journal

    As long you you didn't pay for the "retail" version (a.k.a. DVD / Blueray delivered ones), I don't see a problem. The developers has to be paid somehow, and if some people wants to pay for their games this way, no problem.

    So you are against the First-sale Doctrine. [wikipedia.org] Ok. That is a common thing these days from people who don't fully understand and or have a much more right wing view of copyright.

    I assume you are looking to repeal that also so that books, movies, and all the other things that it covers are changed as well?

    I don't know about the gp, but I prefer to pay full price for my software and have it all work. If I pay $60 for a title, I had better not have to buy anything extra to get 100% or to be competitive (if it is online). If someone wants the "free" version of the game, and then has to buy $100 worth of stuff, $1 at a time to play the whole game, that is fine with me. The Banks have managed to do this with "Free checking", where you actually pay more per month than if you bought the next higher level of checking (although why we have to pay someone to earn interest on my money I still can't figure out). But what I simply won't stand for is when I pay top dollar for a title and then have to pay extra just to have basic functionality. Case in Point: Quickbooks. You pay full price for the software, and then they want to charge you extra for payroll services, which were included in the cost in previous versions. They won't let you print W-2s without paying extra. I could go on and on.

  • Re:Planetside 2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:04PM (#43030501) Homepage Journal

    Weapons can be purchased or cert points can be used.

    For a RIDICULOUS amount of cert points. I still haven't really saved up enough certs to fully arm a character, much less upgrade my vehicles. You don't have to spend real money, but if you want to be competitive in under 6 months, you need to. That said, the default weapons aren't bad, and are generally pretty usable. Though if you're a VS Infiltrator you're really going to need a bolt action rifle, and upgrading AA in Max's is pretty much mandatory. I did play several months from launch, and didn't really feel the need to spend real money until I started to get serious about it.

    Now, microtransactions in a full retail game? Fuck that. I wont buy it even to give it a chance.

    Agreed. The only one I don't mind is Guild Wars 2, since microtransactions are covering server costs and their constant content updates, and don't increase power at all. I've thrown Arenanet a few bucks just because I want to support them, since I like what they are doing, and want them to keep doing it. In GW2, its optional, which is the most important thing for any game with microtransactions. The second I feel like I have to buy something, or the second I get out-competed by someone for anything other than skill, I quit.

    I generally give money to F2P games I like, and don't play the ones that try to force it one me.

    I'm really sad about TFA, since I've been trying to care about SimCity 5. Always on doesn't bug me as much as it does some, but the fact that they are going to make it like The Sims... that is probably a deal breaker. If ever a game had an annoying business model, it is The Sims.

    Damn you Maxis. You were one of the best studios, and now you're pretty much dead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:20PM (#43030593)

    Same with the Battlefield franchise. No more user created mods or maps. The game is the worse for it.

    I got browbeaten by my platoon into buying 'premium' in BF3. Have been disappointed, and will be uninstalling origin in the not too distant future. I certainly won't be buying BF4.

    There are so many more indy games to play now, so it is not as if we don't have choice.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @09:36PM (#43030677)

    Buying your way to victory very often isn't the case. Take DOTA 2, for example. It's riddled with microtransactions for the F2P title. They don't actually *do* anything. it's still kind of gross, though. Not so much in a F2P game as in everything else, though. Nothing like having a giant "BUY DLC HERE!" or "YOU CAN GET MORE GOLD TO BUY WEAPONS IF YOU PAY REAL MONEY!" buttons in the middle of the game you paid $65 for.

    Video games are, increasingly, becoming a demonstration of what happens when a form of art and creativity is taken over completely and absolutely by business. Buy guys who don't refer to things as "games" or "movies" but as "intellectual property". That isn't to say there's anything wrong with treating it like a business, but it's a business whose product is compelling creative content and unique experiences for their customers. Instead, they're finding ways to simultaneously devalue the experience while putting a value on every single thing. It's gross.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @10:23PM (#43030979)

    You forgot: People don't allocate finite amounts of money to specifically spend on games. If you spend more time playing games, you may spend less money on other forms of entertainment. Spending a little more on a game to get a little more entertainment out of it doesn't mean you will spend less on games in the future. It may mean you spend less on DVD's or something EA/Activision/Blizzard/GameCompanyVendorHere doesn't sell.

    Also, if you don't release a few new games every year, you want your customers to keep spending their disposable income on your games, not your competitors.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @11:40PM (#43031349)

    One word... Zynga!!!

    Take a good look at that company and how it fared. What EA is proposing is a social game a'la Zynga. The problem is that such a business is showing that it does not work. People get excited about things, but then quickly move away because they are being nickled and dimed to death. People are lazy and the moment you have to keep ponying up money is the moment you say, "is this worth it?" And the moment a player takes a step back and makes that thought you the game producer have lost.

    Here is how it goes:

    1) Awesome game and I will tell my friends.
    2) My friends are into this game
    3) Friends have bought feature X and they are playing much faster than I
    4) Many I need feature X as well
    5) Feature X is awesome!!!
    6) Oh wait cool Feature Y is out and I will tell my friends to get it!
    7) Now I have Feature X, and Y! Awesome game play
    8) Feature Z is out and it is way more awesome.
    9) Wait, will there be a feature AA? What is Feature Z going to cost me? How much money am I burning through playing this game?

    Step 9 is the brutal step and once your company is associated with this, its game OVER for your company. Hence why I say, look at Zynga. So how is Zynga trying to get out of the maliase? Simple online gambling! Yes the company that tried to make legal and legit games has to look at gambling and addictions that cause you to loose your money.

    When will EA, and Activision hit gambling? Earlier than you think IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:40AM (#43032421)

    You just described how people can pay to overcome crappy game design.

    You also described the very method which would prettymuch force people to make those micropayments: by inserting tedious, good-for-nothing and not the slightest bit amusing, hours (if not days or weeks) costing time-sinks.

    So in the future what you refer to as "crappy game design" will than be "a corporate strategy", nothing more than "an incentive" to pay up, and used liberally thru-out the game ...

    Oh well, more power to the people who make "trainers" and the like. Maybe the name "hacker" or "pirate" will one day evolve into something like "game cleaner". :-)

  • Re:$60 for the game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by De Lemming (227104) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @06:10AM (#43032707) Homepage

    Reminds me of DLC Quest [goingloudstudios.com], a game which parodies this. You have to pay (with in-game coins) to unlock "features" like moving to the left, sound or animations. I got it a few days ago in the latest Indie Royale Bundle, but that offer has expired now.

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