‘You Shall Not Pay’. Yep, it’s already a dad joke.
Ahh, microtransactions. Yep. Even non-gamers are over the debate. From humble beginnings with mobile gaming, microtransactions are now causing legal debates amongst lawmakers around the world.
One of the biggest outcries of 2017 and something game publishers need to work out, microtransactions run a wide spectrum of both understanding and implementation.
Generally speaking, there is the ‘Freemium’ model primarily on mobile where you get a free game, but pay for power-ups or new features. Think Candy Crush or The Simpsons Tapped Out.
The new middle ground is championed by Overwatch – full price game, pay for cosmetic upgrades. Then there is what is affectionately known as EA level b#*!shit.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was deservedly or not the game that caused the world to pay attention to microtransactions. Around the same time though, Warner Brothers Middle Earth: Shadow of War also made quite a stir with its microtransaction strategy. Oversimplified, the strategy was basically to scream at you that transactions were available, and if you buy them you don’t have to grind as much.
Now, I enjoyed the original Shadow of Mordor, but I am nowhere near finishing it. The same repetitiveness and just off controls made the grind just too much for me. Twice. Seriously, play any of the Batman Arkham games, then try Shadow of Mordor’s combat. This is why my Shadow of Mordor trophy count will ever increase.
Shadow of War got slammed by reviewers. I read and watched a lot of the reviews when Shadow of War came out, and I couldn’t tell if the gameplay improved. So many reviewers screamed and ranted about the microtransactions then focused on any small flaw while they were in the groove so to speak that I just couldn’t work out if I would like to play it. One gripe I can agree with and stopped me from even trying Shadow of War was the market Nemesis opponents.
The Nemesis system was one of the seeds that still makes me want to love Shadow of Mordor. Being beaten by an Orc or continually beating one causing a rivalry is a novel and unique experience to each player. But if I have to buy a stronger opponent to get through the game? Come on.
So after losing a heap of players (and their microtransaction dollars), Warner Brothers have announced that they are removing the loot crates! Yay! And conveniently this update comes with the updates for the Desolation of Mordor DLC. Really?
Now to be completely fair, Monolith has made the announcement. Monolith is the game developer and as such the face of the Middle Earth series. But Warner Brothers are the publishers, the people with the seed money and the shareholders to appease. That’s why I say ‘Warner Brothers’ when talking about financial plans with Shadow of War.
While Monolith isn’t on my top video game developers list, they obviously care about the games they produce. Now I can’t really fault Warner Brothers for wanting in on the microtransaction money mountain. Figures thrown around last year had microtransaction income at almost triple the income from software sales, and that is a multi-billion dollar industry.
But on May the 8th, when the Desolation of Mordor DLC hits and the microtransactions aren’t around anymore, I am of two minds.
On one hand, Monoliths entire game will be available and close to how I think they imagined their game in the first place, and I hope it’s something they will be proud of.
Secondly, I just don’t care. Based on my experiences with Shadows of Mordor, the microtransaction cloud over the reviews for Shadow of War slamming it so much, and the transparent ‘Oh your not giving us money so here is the game you wanted’ message this announcement sends, my feeling is just ‘Guess what I won’t be buying at all?.
If I get time and this comes out on sale or even on PlayStation Plus, I might give it a try. There were enough seeds of greatness in the first game I want to like this series, but at the moment I just can’t.
If you already have a copy but stopped playing because of the Microtransactions, then give it a go shortly after May 8th and let me know what you think.
Until next time,