The gaming industry has recently grappled with the issue of microtransactions among top-tier gaming publishers. Microtransactions have been primarily introduced in this generation of games, with the “poster children” being Electronic Arts’ FIFA, NHL and Madden franchises, which force players to invest hundreds of hours of time or real-life money.
The issue did not blow up until the recent release of EA’s “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” Developed by DICE and published by EA, “Star Wars: Battlefront II” is a shooter that takes place within the Star Wars universe. EA made the unlockable “heroes,” iconic characters from the Star Wars franchise, unavailable unless a player invested over 40 hours of gameplay or paid real-life currency to unlock them drawing outrage from gamers and Star Wars fans alike.
This brings up the argument at the heart of the issue, that microtransactions must be eliminated from video games.
Many of these microtransactions are targeted at children, where a perception of inferiority coupled with peer pressure can cause a child to ask their parents to buy in-game content with real currency.
Players and parents alike have criticized Microtransactions, claiming they promote gambling. The issue has gotten so out-of-hand that the state legislature of Hawaii and the government of Belgium decided to label EA as a practitioner of predatory practices and a sponsor of gambling respectively. This restricts the game from being purchased by children, who are a target market of EA’s sports and the Star Wars franchise.
While the supporters of microtransactions claim critics are simply overreacting to a business attempting to turn a profit, players should still exercise self-discipline regarding the transactions. However, it is the staunch critics of microtransactions who are speaking volumes as copies of “Star Wars: Battlefront II” linger on shelves into the holiday season. A game that was the frontrunner to be one of the most popular games this holiday season is now turning into one of the biggest flops.