Recently I came across some job postings for Zenimax with a particular position in mind. For those who don’t know what Zenimax is, they are the parent company of Bethesda, a prominent company in the gaming industry. This is interesting because gaming is already in a relatively new era where the standard had changed.
One of the biggest priority of any company is to create profit. That includes our many gaming companies on the global market such as EA, Ubisoft and Activision. It isn’t a surprise that some of these companies have sought ways to monetize their games to generate more money.
Micro-transactions, in particular, had gained a massive rise in popularity among the gaming industry. Such products may include cosmetic items such as a weapon skin or a fancy new hat, special consumables designed to aid you throughout the game or powerful weapons that can handle any enemy.
It does have its pros and cons, but one thing is for sure. Monetization will be a key part of many high-end games which can be quite concerning. However, it is important to remember that micro-transactions had been part of gaming for a long time. Games as old as Maplestory and Rappelz had cash shops where players could spend money on additional features.
Here’s the thing, you look at old games with cash shop features or mobile games and you generally see a common denominator between most of these games. It is that if you a player decides to play this game, you are not obligated to spend a single cent on it. You can just download the game and hop right into it. This isn’t the case with games like the newly released Anthem or Fallout 76. If you want to play either of those games, prepare to shell out some cash before you can even consider touching the cash shop.
I, as a player, find this disappointing that many studios and publishers would resort to selling a video game with microtransactions attached to it. In some cases, I don’t find it too bad such as pure cosmetic items with no major in-game impact. However, there are some games that offer powerful weapons for an extra bit of cash or other similar features.
While older games that have microtransaction offers advantages, at least it was free to play. It still had its place (after all free to play games need to generate money somehow), but it was as predatory as the live service games that exist in the market now.
Perhaps there is a reason why publishers are leaning towards these models for profits. It could be that they consider it a stable way to generate money from games that can last for extended periods of time. When you see developers showcasing roadmaps for games like Anthem, Rainbow Six Siege and other live service games, it is clear that it would be supported long-term.
Triple A publishers are taking these products to generate maximum profit, however, the results of how well it does is often a mixed bag where some games like Rainbow Six Siege had enjoyed success while others like Fallout 76 suffered substantial losses. Whether this is a good direction for games of the future to head to, it is no doubt that it a tight balancing act to keep players playing a live service game.