The MagicBox Forums  

Go Back   The MagicBox Forums > General Topics > General Gaming Discussion

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-05-2019, 09:43 PM   #1
Registered User
Rubeus's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 8,207
Activision's post-launch microtransactions are the peak of anti-consumer practices

Are they really that bad?

Click for full size

Activision's post-launch microtransactions are the peak of anti-consumer practices

Iím not proud of how tolerant I used to be of microtransactions in general but thatís all the more reason itís cathartic to write pieces like this

Leading up to Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueledís release, I shared in a Quickpost that its new skins reminded me of a typical, microtransaction-based cosmetic system. I wanted to see these cosmetics as an addition to the original gameís content. But given Activisionís recent history of adding distasteful microtransactions into remakes of old games, I assumed the worst. Regardless of whether they'd be loot boxes or cosmetic-only or anything else, Iíve become exhausted of them, and I know I will always enjoy retail games more without them.

To my pleasant surprise, Nitro-Fueled launched without any such purchases. At the time, I had thought that Activision heeded the public outcry against microtransactions in paid games, backpedaled on whatever purchases it was planning to add, and neglected to remove the design surrounding them. I almost bought Nitro-Fueled to get in on its online events while they were still new, only deciding against it as I try to wait for more price drops on big game releases. It took only a month after release for Activision to announce that microtransactions are coming in a future patch. If I weren't so disheartened, my past self would maybe have gloated at my present self for being wrong on that front.

In retrospect, I should have expected this given the companyís similar treatment of recent Call of Duty launches. But my emotional rollercoaster of skepticism, relief, and disgust put into perspective why this emerging trend in marketing leaves such a horrible taste in my mouth. Nitro-Fueledís in-game purchases themselves arenít the most distasteful in the industry Ė you're just buying Wumpa Coins you can (slowly) earn in-game Ė but sneaking them in after launch is the most blatantly anti-consumer thing Iíve seen.

At a glance, itíd be weird for any game that sells microtransactions to omit them on launch. According to many players, Nitro-Fueledís cosmetic currency drop rate and rotating shop inventory resembled a freemium gameís economy too much for it to not have been built with microtransactions in mind. The whole reason micros exist is to make extra money, and they donít cost a lot of time and money to develop like traditional DLC. In theory, one would make the most out of micro sales by including them from day one.

But that theory assumes micros unanimously coerce consumers into spending more, never less. Most gaming communities, especially ours, are full of people who will proudly boycott any game that features them. These boycotts donít outweigh the overwhelming profit, but there is a tangible cost to consumers knowing that a game will have microtransactions. Whether you hate micros or are indifferent to them, Iíve never met anyone who gets more excited to buy a game after learning they can spend more on micros. If you haveÖmaybe get them a financial advisor. Or a therapist. Or both.

Itís little wonder that Activision wouldnít want potential customers to know Nitro-Fueled would have them, but that just raises more red flags. While I donít expect marketing to highlight all of a productís problems (if any), consumers should know about any additional purchases tacked onto whatever product theyíre buying. Yet Activision kept mum on Nitro-Fueled's micros until well after it had stormed the sales charts, even though it hyped up every other addition ranging from the online Grand Prix to new animations. Interviews with Activision developers who said that it wouldnít have microtransactions have made this abrupt announcement even more scandalous.

Personally, Iím inclined to give these unnamed developers the benefit of the doubt and assume they believed what they said at the time. Regardless, that quote is just as damning for the publisherís handling of this either way. Activision allowed the misconception that Nitro-Fueled wouldnít have microtransactions to spread, and it never bothered to correct that belief.

Click for full size

Unfortunately, Activision isnít the only company to sneak in micros, but it is probably the biggest and most prominent repeat offender to do so concerning monetization. Another recent example is Bethesdaís Wolfenstein: Youngblood, which stealth-launched with micros in tow. Most of my criticisms here apply to that as well, but Youngblood's micros were on display from day one. Customers could immediately notice and share that news if they knew to look for it. After Nitro-Fueled's launch, we could only guess and assume that micros would come later, at least those of us who were skeptical enough.

Again, I should have anticipated something like this, but thatís a part of the problem. Consumers like myself assume that if we arenít told anything about it, a retail gameís default monetization model is a single-purchase that might have add-on content packs. We donít expect that model to change only one month after a productís release. The only reason I should have to think otherwise is in my distrust of the publisherís track record, and if I have to distrust the company I'm considering giving my money to then maybe I'm considering a bad decision. For instance, Activision slipped loot boxes into Black Ops 4 as part of a larger update. That ploy also won the company universal backlash and yet here we are again.

Click for full size

Activision not only demonstrated its awareness of consumersí opinions on microtransactions but that it is willing to use their distaste of micros to mislead them into buying a game with micros. That should be the textbook definition of anti-consumer business practice. And you know what? Iím gonna say the s-word, and I will not apologize for it. This is the prime form of industry bullshit.
Rubeus is offline   Reply With Quote
Connect With Facebook to "Like" This Thread


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:31 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.