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#1 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

#2 Edited by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

Original post here

Disclaimer: I have not played Dead Space 3 (DS3) and am basing my opinions primarily on various reviews and information gleaned from the DS3 discussion during this week's Bombcast.


It's no surprise that we, as core gamers, feel an instinctual aversion towards microtransactions. We remember a time when buying a game meant buying a game. We remember when Free 2 Play games first started cropping up and how horrible they were. And now that they've started to bleed their way intoour games, we're afraid that the well of fair design has been poisoned by greed.


Electronic Arts has been at the forefront of the $60+ movement, but their tentative forays have been largely innocuous. An unlock here, a bonus item there, and a minor hullabaloo over Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. And while it came as no surprise to me when it was revealed that DS3 would also have microtransactions in-the-box, I was somewhat taken aback by the massive amounts of vitriol being spewed across the internet.

After all, we had no idea how the in-game economy was balanced. How could we possibly pass judgement on a system we knew nothing about. But no, a majority of people seemed to be asserting that the actual design of the game was irrelevant. The mere presence of microtransactions was enough to condemn DS3, sight-unseen.


Now that the game is out in the wild, it sounds like microtransactions have had no negative impact on the design of DS3. The rate of resource accrual is properly balanced for players that choose not to spend any additional money, and in keeping with other EA titles, the single-player microtransactions exist only to serve as a shortcut for impatient players.

A fair assessment?

So I ask you, where is the harm? Are we willing to condemn EA for crimes they have yet to commit? Is it our place to deny the others the freedom to "ruin the experience" in our perception?

Development costs are inflating, making secondary revenue streams more and more crucial to a game's success. When the next generation rolls around, refusing to support a game that features microtransaction may mean finding a new hobby. Or sticking exclusively to the Wii U.

#3 Posted by Pr1mus (3956 posts) -

I'm Ok with them as you describe them. But we must be cautious because they go a little farther every time.

#4 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4899 posts) -

I actually think the vitriol is part of why the Michael Transactions have been innocuous in EA games. While it is not very pleasant to listen to, I think it's necessary when you consider that a line needs to be drawn somewhere. Whether we like it or not, this kind of violent backlash establishes quite clearly where that line is and that any publisher/developer who crosses it will take a hit to their image and possibly on the sales of their title. The idea of pay 2 win or whatever you want to call it in full price games is something we should be wary of, and if people just shrugged it off it's likely we'd see more aggressive and gross implementations of microtransactions later.

Keep in mind the only reason Online Passes were acceptable to implement is because the gaming community largely shrugged its shoulders and just punched in the serial key. Hopefully we don't get to a point where microtransactions in a full price game are just another thing we have to put up with.

#5 Posted by PeteyCoco (102 posts) -

The problem with Dead Space 3's microtransactions is that you don't know that the game is balanced for them until you've seen the game. When you first see them, there's a sense of dread because you get the feeling that the game might favor players that pay the extra money. I'm okay with microtransactions in games, but they put a damper on the fun since you're always thinking about what you're missing by not paying the extra money.

#6 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4702 posts) -

I picked that I am not ok with them ever. In Mass Effect 3 I could live with it because you could get that stuff and it was for a mode I did not care much for. Even if they tried to make it important. In Dead Space 3, sure the game does not seemed designed with them being necessary to win. But in a game about atmosphere, I don't want to see adds for buying DLC mircotransactions at the in game store. That is kinda foul and intrusive.

Who know where that model could lead to. What it has become on iOS sounds awful. I think we should nip it in the bud and outcry now before they go too far with it.

#7 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

Microstransactions always impact design.

#8 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5818 posts) -

They're not really a problem to me. If there are people willing to throw their money away for meaningless in game items, then it makes perfect sense for EA to take advantage of that.

But I do agree that it might become a bigger problem in the future.

#9 Posted by Quarters (1888 posts) -

I never noticed the microtransactions when I was playing. I had more than enough resources for anything I needed, and I just went through like they didn't exist. Didn't have a single problem. While I understand why some people are angry at the idea of it, I feel that most of the anger is directed at just that: the idea. I feel in practice, there's not actually that much to be mad about. It doesn't affect the game. If people want to spend extra money to make things go faster for them, who are we to judge them? It's their money, they can do what they want. It's funny, when it comes time for stuff like the ME3 ending, every starts going into stuff about how the customer is always right. Yet, if someone wants to pay money for something to speed up their game, they're looked down upon for "giving in the corporate machine" or what have you. It's interesting to watch unfold, and further feeds into the ultimate issue that I think is affecting the game industry right now: gamers(as well as other fan bases in other mediums, though games seem the most pronounced) cannot be happy. Regardless of the measures that developers and publishers take, someone will always find something that earns their hatred.

#10 Posted by Sackmanjones (4762 posts) -

It shouldn't go any further than what Dead Space 3 has done. I haven't felt the need to purchase anything with real money but I've had enough resources or close to enough to build any weapons I want. The only thing I don't like is the bot modifications are not in game, you HAVE to purchase those and that is just wrong. To my knowledge you do get a few other things along with it but still, its a shame you cannot purchase them with the rations like the resource boxes. If you really want to get items quickly, then I guess it's nice to have the option to get it right away, but it never feels like you have to buy anything and that's whats most important. 
I gotta say though, I am REALLY enjoying the game so far, I've only been on the planet for an hour or two but I just love the musical score and the text logs which have a very cryptic background. I see how the "love triangle" is a bit cheesy but I don't think its that offensive. I admit I prefer the lack of ammo to the huge stash I have in the game (which should change when I play on the other modes) but its in favor of building some really cool weapons that are a joy to use. The horror may be gone except for the jump scares which has always been Dead Spaces forte but the atmosphere has been pretty rich to me, I love "The Thing" and the planet definitely hits those notes for me. 
Gun tip: Assault rifle+Force gun+Electric module. Do it people.

#11 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3925 posts) -

I picked A. I said it in another thread too if they have no effect on the game, if you can get all that stuff with in game resources, if they're essentially cheats then I couldn't care less. If someone wants to buy the game then make it easy with that stuff they are totally welcome to.

#12 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

Made it though dead space having no need to buy anything. Stuff respawns like crazy and your little boys net you more then enough to fully upgrade your rig and build strong weapons. 80% of the time I didnt even have to build stuff. I just found the parts and a few times I even had multiple of the same part which I sold to get more resources. So this just seems like something they put in here saying "If you want all the best stuff from the get go here you go" 

#13 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

Please stop using the term "core gamers". There is not such thing, you either play video games or you don't.

#14 Posted by nohthink (1223 posts) -

I do mind any microtransactions as long as they do not negatively influence the game design AND not surface it.

So I am NOT okay with Dead Space 3.

#15 Edited by Immortal_Guy (127 posts) -

Microtransactions often do affect game design - even if they're just "shortcuts for impatient players". I'm sure the item drop system in team fortress 2 wouldn't be as unpredictable and convoluted if it wasn't for the microtransactions - and would the drop rates in diablo III be higher if blizzard didn't have real-money-auction-house sales to balance in? Whatever happens, as soon as microtransactions are involved design becomes about more than just what the designer thinks will give the most fun to the player, and that (from the player's point of view) can never be a good thing.

#16 Posted by jasondaplock (263 posts) -

Even if microtransactions are tacked on at the end of beta, where they couldn't possibly influence the balance the game, they still affect ME. There is no way to make them transparent enough to be cost-effective but opaque enough that they don't take me out of the experience. I hate being reminded of money while playing a game; I worry about money the other 95% of my life.

Microtransactions are never acceptable to me in a singleplayer experience unless that experience is just a time-waster (a la tower defense, trials games), where I wouldn't be focused anyway.

#17 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

@SathingtonWaltz said:

Please stop using the term "core gamers". There is not such thing, you either play video games or you don't.

Are you suggesting that there is no difference of opinion in regards to DS3 microtransactions between gamers that keep abreast of all the latest news and gamers that just pop into GameStop on occasion and pick up what looks good?

#18 Edited by ThePhantomStranger (382 posts) -

Not to get all conspiracy theory on ya but I just thought of something.

If micro-transactions end up in every game going forward, which isn't all that unlikely, then doesn't that begin to limit genres to those that can easily take that system on or forcibly change genres so they can more easily use micro-transactions.

Do we know if the loot system was decided upon before or after micro-transactions were decided upon?

What about a game like Arkham City the Walking Dead that doesn't have much to offer in terms of micro-transactions?

EDIT: Arkham City is a Bad Example for the above.

#19 Posted by JasonR86 (9729 posts) -


People can spend their money however they want. Just don't ruin the game to give those people legitimate reasons for doing so.

#20 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

@ThePhantomStranger: Off the top of my head, a game like Batman could have a reveal all unlockables microtransaction or an XP booster.

#21 Posted by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

@StarvingGamer said:

@SathingtonWaltz said:

Please stop using the term "core gamers". There is not such thing, you either play video games or you don't.

Are you suggesting that there is no difference of opinion in regards to DS3 microtransactions between gamers that keep abreast of all the latest news and gamers that just pop into GameStop on occasion and pick up what looks good?

I'm not saying that people don't have differing opinions, I'm saying that lumping a bunch of people under the label "core gamers" is retarded.

#22 Posted by MildMolasses (3229 posts) -

@Pr1mus said:

I'm Ok with them as you describe them. But we must be cautious because they go a little farther every time.

Yep. As it stands I'm totally ok with it. If someone wants to spend extra money to cut down time, it's none of my business. It's also not anything new. EA Sports games have been doing this for years. As long as whatever it is that can be purchased is also available through normal gameplay, I couldn't care less

#23 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

false premise

#24 Posted by Snail (8663 posts) -

Hooray for the lack of a character limit in poll titles.

#25 Posted by IBurningStar (2190 posts) -

I don't like microtransactions in general. I never buy them. Still, I see that there is apparently a market for them and that people do still buy them. I guess I am more indifferent on them when it comes to free to play games, but I would prefer for them not to be in full priced $60 retail games. I'm sure there are some companies that would handle it well, but I don't trust people like EA or Capcom. Based on what they have done in the past I can't help but feel like they would eventually use microtransactions in such a poor way that it would negatively effect how games were designed.

#26 Posted by ThePhantomStranger (382 posts) -

@StarvingGamer said:

@ThePhantomStranger: Off the top of my head, a game like Batman could have a reveal all unlockables microtransaction or an XP booster.

I'm aware they could do that but I felt that wouldn't be enough. It's a bad example on my part.

What about the Walking Dead?

Sorry if that sounds like a loaded question...

#27 Posted by RecSpec (3950 posts) -

From what I heard on the Bombcast, everything in Dead Space 3 seemed fine. I feel that people go a little bit too far with the "I paid $60, I deserve everything you put out" mindset sometimes, but as long as executives and shareholders can go "How can we make more money out of this?", nothing will change. We just have to be reasonable. Call out things that really are bullshit, but not label every piece of DLC as milking the customer.  

#28 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

@ThePhantomStranger: Well, TWD circumvents the issue by being episodic and downloadable. In a way it already has microtransactions built in. A better example may be a game like Heavy Rain, something that may be better served by a more aggressive version of traditional DLC with things like commentary tracks.

#29 Edited by seannao (232 posts) -

The scavenger robot is directly designed to encourage microtransactions and has no place in the game because your interaction with it is pretty much fire and forget. There's no gameyness to it other than "can you hear the telltale beep?"

It's not that bad. You're paying to make the game easier to play, the worst thing arguably about it, is that the robot can find a BENCH, but it can't find your location and just deposit money in your pocket, so the only conceivable reason it *must* reappear at the BENCH is because that's the primary way the player can interact with the DLC menus from.

Other than that, it hasn't impacted the game whatsoever. You get so many upgrades you don't need or upgrades that become obsolete that you can work around it by recycling those items as components for better upgrades, and no I didn't pay for any of that robot-scav DLC.

#30 Posted by WilltheMagicAsian (1542 posts) -

I just don't want it to skyrocket out of control, or to be expected in every game, kind of like the iOS market.

#31 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

I think it sets a bad precedent. Being bombarded by in game ads to buy shortcuts and cheats is not something I look for in my video game experiences.

#32 Edited by Trilogy (2692 posts) -

They have no place in retail products, especially full retail products. The problem is when money is on the line, it's so hard to trust people. Devs/Publishers see how much money there is to be made on mobile and then look at used game sales hurting their business so they think that merging the two is a great way to make up the losses. I understand the intent as videogames are really expensive to make these days, but if I pay you 60 dollars for a game, I don't want to be thinking about how the experience is being altered because I don't want to pony up extra for a god damn coin doubler or the removal of a cooldown.

The problem is that micro transactions just have way too much impact on game design. It can be done the right way but it is absolutely the exception rather than the rule. I have to give props to the guys at GGG who have had the right mindset of micro transactions in their game, Path of Exile. Hell, PoE is a free game to boot.

#34 Posted by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

I don't mind it in multiplayer games or mmos, but I really think its crossing a line to put it in single player. I think it effects game design way too much.

#35 Posted by jjm494 (84 posts) -

I oppose them because like others, I think a line needs to be drawn in the sand. I fear that what we're seeing now could be the beginning of a slippery slope in terms of how publishers will specifically alter game play in full retail products in order to get more money out of consumers. It may be that Dead Space 3's mechanics weren't altered in anyway by including micro-transactions, but given EA's track record with consumers, I could most certainly see that not being the case next time. Dead Space 3 may be them testing the waters to see how well this goes over in a single player game.

It's weird that the dead space series is the focus of attention in this instance. I remember that in the first one, there were actually cheat codes you could use to get extra cash and modules. That's the real annoying thing about micro-transactions such as Dead Space 3's robots, Forza Horizon's unlocking the locations of secret items on the map, or Saints Row the Third's cheat codes. A console generation ago, these would have been cheat codes, not something you had to pay the publisher to unlock.

#36 Edited by Little_Socrates (5718 posts) -

I don't think any sector of a game that posits itself as "artistic" or from "an auteur" can honestly have microtransactions within that sector. What I'm saying is that Mass Effect 3's multiplayer microtransactions do not affect the artistic integrity of the single player game, but effectively deny all claims that the multiplayer can be seen as more than entertainment.

The rule holds true in several mediums. Cinematography that follows the rules of cinematography is in place to constantly allow the viewer to forget that the camera even exists. The main rule of a theater screening is to ensure that the viewer forgets there is ever a projector. And, in the case of a game, I believe the rule to be that the game should work as hard as possible to dissociate the player from the notion that people developed the game and you paid their publishers for it. The goal isn't necessarily to make the media consumer forget they're consuming media; it's okay for a game not to immerse you to the point where you start issuing hyperboles like "I forgot I was playing a game," as it is for a book/movie. But the financial relationship between the publisher/developer and the player is too tangential to the game for said relationship to be appropriately flung into your face.

Dead Space 3 does not follow this rule. The single player game will remind you that you can spend real-world money to obtain materials with which to build more stuff. For a game so obsessed with non-intrusive UI, the microtransaction prompt immediately removes you from engaging with Dead Space 3 as a story, or a world, or even a game, and forces you to acknowledge it as a piece of fiction which you have paid for. This is excessively problematic design. It is more problematic than the dwarf at your camp in Dragon Age: Origins who will offer to sell you DLC at any given time because Dead Space 3's prompts are present regardless of location or narrative point. It's very difficult to stay emotionally invested in a story when the storyteller suddenly stops telling it, shakes his fat old head, and mutters that it'll cost you another dollar for him to continue the story. You may know damned well that he'll continue the story if you refuse, but it was still excessively rude of him to ask.

Microtransactions as prompted within a game world or even a non-startup menu are intrinsically problematic. They're not necessarily bad, even; Dead Space 3 survives as a work of atmosphere, gameplay, and visually impressive sights, and the microtransactions have minimally affected balance. I'm really liking it so far, though I haven't reached Brad's so-dreaded ice planet yet. But they distract from a game's purpose because they distract from the game itself. Once you are playing their game, the developer should be working hard to allow you to forget that they exist.

That's obviously not always true, as with film. Gordon Willis, the absolutely brilliant cinematographer behind the Godfather films, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and All The President's Men occasionally breaks this rule so that he can show you something visually stunning. Wes Anderson constantly breaks this rule, but to stylistic effect that impresses more than the sensation of his construction detracts (although, for some, it's an insurmountable issue.) And, to bring us back to games, Antichamber, Fez, Hotline Miami, and Spec Ops: The Line are almost constantly about dialogue with the developers themselves. Not to mention the fact that The Walking Dead's fourth episode is very obviously written by Gary Whitta if you're even somewhat familiar with his sense of humor. But to make it so blatantly financial really damages that relationship, and it's something I recommend developers avoid in the future.

#37 Posted by Draxyle (1900 posts) -


Couldn't have said all that better myself. This is exactly why EA and Bioware were a terrible pairing from the start; you absolutely cannot mix story and business the way they did without completely obliterating the illusion. It's a complete antithesis to games as an art form. The fact that we're even forced to have this conversation is going to destroy the experience for most enthusiasts.

Dead Space 3's micro-transactions are just downright spiteful of the player. They don't even sell anything not already available inside the game (if I recall correctly), but they sure as heck take away from the atmosphere I would imagine. Developers can do micro-transactions if they absolutely need to, but I had better not see a single sign of the business end anywhere within the confines of the game itself. Leave that stuff outside of the game, or at the very most the main menu.

#38 Posted by Little_Socrates (5718 posts) -

@Draxyle: Well, I mean, I disagree that EA/BioWare has made for a bad pairing, as I think they've made all of their best games since the partnership. I also think ME3 handled the microtransaction angle fine, though the DLC in that game is obviously problematic and serves for another separate conversation. The single-player remains mostly unaffected, although Galactic Readiness is its own version of this conversation as well.

However, the Dragon Age example is still relavant here, so I'll move to discussing that and say that it does obliterate the illusion, agreed. The reason it's less problematic than Dead Space 3 is specifically because you're only seeing those conversations at the camp, which is an already-calm in-world location. When you're at that camp, you're (theoretically) not keyed-up on the story goings-on, you're supposed to be resting before your next leg of the journey. It's still extremely problematic and removes the immersion of what probably is the most interesting location in Dragon Age (similar to how the Normandy is probably the coolest place to hang out in Mass Effect 2) but it's less problematic than, say, moments after a major revelation, you try to use a bench and get asked for $2 to buy more scrap metal. This is theoretical, and would require attention to detail to confirm that benches can be reached shortly after important story beats, but said scenario is entirely possible, and that still sucks.

And definitely agreed, at worst, leave it at the main menu. At least that way it's not interrupting my game experience.

#39 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: Again I have not played the game, but the gist I have been getting from others is that the microtransaction prompts in DS3 are well integrated into the overall UI and easily ignored. Is this not the case?

#40 Posted by Little_Socrates (5718 posts) -

@StarvingGamer: They are, in my opinion, TOO well integrated into the game world. As a result, the game world is embedded with a financial relationship to the real world, which is disorienting. Ultimately, they're relatively inconsequential. That's aided by the fact that, so far as I've played, Dead Space 3 is pretty stupid before IGP are considered.

They're easily ignored in the sense that you definitely don't have to make the purchase, but if I'm remembering correctly from my one and only session a few days ago, you are prompted with the microtransaction if you try to craft something that you don't have the materials to craft. If you're not paying attention, that can happen pretty easily, and seeing that message is cognitively problematic because I'm busy trying to think about how to best kill these 'morphs, not how to spend my real-world budget.

#41 Posted by StarvingGamer (8560 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: Thanks, that clarifies things for me. Also thanks for your well thought-out reply.

#42 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2297 posts) -

As long as I can still enjoy the game and nothing about the game feels like it is missing something because of DLC then I'm okay with it.

#43 Posted by Draxyle (1900 posts) -

@Little_Socrates: It was definitely the Dragon Age Origin's camp NPC I had in mind when I said that. I still can't replay that game because of it.

I do admit they've still made great games under EA's care, it just makes it all the more tragic when they pull stunts like that to smear what good they've created.

#44 Edited by ExplodeMode (852 posts) -

Big publishers are constantly testing the water to see how far they can go, because they have a lot of lights to keep on and shareholders with pitchforks. So it's probably natural to be resistant to things like this, even when they aren't that bad.

It's the classic slippery slope argument, but with a lot of precedent for anyone that has been paying attention.

I guess the answer is that I'm fine with as far as I can tell, but where does it end?

#45 Edited by Efesell (693 posts) -

Don't break things and you can attempt to filch money from people all day long, I'll even buy some if it seems cool.

#46 Posted by Ekpyroticuniverse (144 posts) -

My issue if that I can go buy a full price game that comes with everything, is designed to be perfect, say x-com or dishonored, Two games i paid full price for. Ok they had pre-order BS which was all cosmetic and I didn't need it. But then if I go buy a counter part say Sim City or Dead Space 3 there is either microtransactions hidding content or day 1 DLC that is more than just cosmetic, so I am not getting comparable worth for my cash. Add to this the fact if you are building in a microtransaction system you are thinking about this in your core game design at some point. The crafting system in dead space might seem awsome even with the microtransactions removed but I can't take it on good faith that such a system was included because it seemed awsome, It was included because at some point some told the developers that they had to have a way to monities the game beyond the intial price in the same way that mass effect 2 multiplayer had it in it. I will not be surprised if this just becomes something EA does to games from now on. TBH the only reason i think its less bad in Dead Space 3 is because I think the developers were told they had to add it in but didn't really want to so made a system where it you can ignore it.

#47 Edited by jonnyboy (2920 posts) -

I cant abide Microtransactions in multiplayer whether they are boosters/unlocks or any other means of paid bonus. If I get beaten in a multiplayer match it should be that my opponent was BETTER than me, not because they have greater disposable income.

#48 Posted by Patman99 (1620 posts) -

@nintendoeats said:

Microstransactions always impact design.

Exactly. The developers want you to buy the coin doubler so they have to make the trickle of coins you get at a pace where you always need more. Essentially, the game needs to make the rate at which you gain any given resource (crafting materials, xp, currency) at a rate where the player feels like it should be faster. For example, a coin doubler in Skyrim wouldn't work because the money you get from quests and selling random shit is always at a fairly good clip. In the case of Dead Space 3, those scavenger robots took an insane amount of time. The only reason why the microtransactions in that game were not totally gross is because you could gather enough resources where you weren't really required to buy the upgrades for the robot.

The game needs to make people want to buy something for the microtransaction to work. Therefore, they have to alter the design. If they do not alter the design then very, very few people would actually buy the coin doubler or xp doubler or whatever.

#49 Posted by eccentrix (1615 posts) -

C! Jetpack Joyride is an example of a game where it's very obvious to see how some people could want to buy coins, but I've found that I'm getting enough coins at a faster enough rate that I'll never need to. I gain enough coins to buy something every few runs and it's been that way the whole time I've been playing, even now that I have almost everything there is to buy.

#50 Posted by Rafaelfc (1471 posts) -

Microtransactions in a full-priced retail product should never even be an option!

In free-to-play games it's mostly fine.