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The Problem with Microtransactions

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CentralMONews

http://centralmonews.net/entertainment/video-games/in-game-purchases-are-they-fair-game/

Kai Theriault

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On November 17, Electronic Arts (EA) released the second installment in the Star Wars Battlefront franchise. This game revisits the controversial business model in the video game industry called microtransactions. Microtransactions are a business model where users can purchase virtual goods through payments. These tactics are often used in free-to-play games.

Upon the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, the controversy began with Reddit users reported having to spend eighty dollars or play for up to forty hours to unlock Darth Vader. Along with purchasing characters, EA announced “loot boxes” to encourage gamers to spend actual money. According to gaming news site Rock, Paper, Shotgun, “As such, spending an additional $100 on your $60 video game wouldn’t get you even close to having everything (without also putting a lot of hours in, at least),” describing how players are spending more for in-game characters than the cost of the game itself.

Microtransactions have been such a large problem that Reddit users proposed a boycott, resulting in a lot of refunds. According to The New York Times, “Electronic Arts Inc. halted in-game sales of virtual goods in its high-profile sequel to ‘Star Wars Battlefront’ on the eve of the game’s launch, bowing to pressure from Walt Disney Co. as well as customers.” As well as being under pressure from Disney, EA has lost a large amount of its shareholders and is having a harder time selling games because of the boycott.

Belgium is considering imposing a ban on microtransactions in Europe. Many leaders see this as a problem as “… an elected Hawaiian ruled that Battlefront II was ‘a casino in the colors of Star Wars, dangerous for young people’.” Belgian news site RTBF sees “loot boxes” as a version of gambling and wants it become outlawed in Europe.

As a result of this controversy, EA removed its microtransactions. This event showed that consumers and gamer’s voices had been heard and set an example for other game companies not to follow Star Wars Battlefront’s business model. Even though EA removed microtransactions it is a small victory in a large war.

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The Problem with Microtransactions