Let’s Be Real, There Is Nothing “Micro” About Microtransactions Anymore

In-game purchases have gotten ridiculously overpriced in recent years.

Story Highlights

  • With how expensive microtransactions have become lately, they are overdue a name change.
  • Calling them something like a “macrotransaction” honestly feels more fitting.
  • And with how things are going, things will only end up becoming more expensive. 

On one fateful day, nearly 20 years from today, Bethesda released what was one of the first instances of a cosmetic microtransaction in a video game released by a major publisher. The Horse Armor Pack for TES 4: Oblivion, which might have seemed innocuous at the time, went on to become one of the most infamous additions to any video game ever.

On this day 15 years ago, Bethesda released the Horse Armor Pack for TES 4: Oblivion
byu/hn_ns ingaming

This is because it created a chain reaction. Which has fundamentally changed the way the video game industry operates. It’s hard to say if microtransactions and the state of video games would be as it is today, had it not been for this one addition by Bethesda. But there’s no denying that, today, gaming is fundamentally different from what it was back when this armor was first introduced.

Nowadays, microtransactions in video games are the norm. In fact, with each passing year, developers are finding more and more ways to try and get every dime out of their consumers. Games never truly feel complete at launch, and features that feel like they deserve to be included in the box price, are arbitrarily locked behind additional purchases. 

Perhaps worse of all, is that the prices of these “microtransactions” have skyrocketed to such a level, that it doesn’t even feel right to call them micro anymore. Maybe something like a “macrotransaction” would be more fitting, considering the sheer amount that gets charged nowadays. Coupled with some of the other recent changes, it’s a sad state of affairs for gamers worldwide. Here’s why.

About the Author: Danish Bukhari has a combined playtime of over 200+ hours in RPG titles like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Elden Ring, making him highly knowledgeable on the subject.

Gaming Has Become Inexplicably Expensive Overtime

As gaming has become more mainstream, publishers have realized the sheer potential for profits in the medium. And so, the industry has become a breeding ground for profit-hungry corporations looking to make a quick buck even if this comes at the cost of the product they are delivering. Or even the loyalty of the customers they are supposed to serve. Microtransactions have continually gone up and up in price each year.

$25 per skin, this is a literal meme
byu/Donutsaurs inOverwatch_Memes

Gone are the days of getting a bundle of skins and camos for just a couple of bucks. Now, you have companies like Blizzard charging as much as 25 dollars for a single skin. To unlock an entire set, you’re looking at paying as much as an entire Triple-A title, or more. Add in the fact that these skins are being made at record paces, with many of them looking absolutely horrendous. And it’s clear quantity over quality is the motto.

But the problem doesn’t end with Blizzard. Recently, several other titles like Tekken 8 and Dragon’s Dogma have been criticized for their utilization of microtransactions. This is especially true for games that are choosing to lock essential game features and items behind paywalls. Previously, many of these things would be unlocked through player progression, or right from the start for gamers.

The Recent Early Access Plague

One of the biggest offenders nowadays is the use of “early access” in video games. It wasn’t enough that you were denied cosmetics and cool items. Simply because the developers decided to arbitrarily paywall them. Because now, you’ll straight-up be denied the ability to play the game because you didn’t fork over extra cash to go for the insanely overpriced “Ultimate Editions.”

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League recently tried this. And hilariously enough, the game’s absolutely buggy launch ended up ruining the 3-day early access for people who paid for it. Not sure why anyone wanted to get their hands on that dumpster fire of a title at all. Let alone, three days early. But yeah, these companies can’t even be bothered to properly ensure players are getting their money’s worth after spending upwards of a hundred dollars.

Blizzard about early access WoW The War Within: ‘Wish we had been clearer when we announced it.’
byu/Shirear inwow

Early access sucks in every title, but it’s made worse in MMOs. This is because you’re not playing alone. And are actively competing with everyone else on your server. Blizzard Entertainment was once the beacon of quality But is now the first studio to stoop to offering early access as a part of its new World of Warcraft expansion.

The Future Doesn’t Seem Any More Positive 

It doesn’t look like the F2P model is going anywhere. But frustratingly enough, nowadays, even pay-to-play games employ tons of microtransactions. There are some devs like FromSoftware and Larian Studios. They still retain a few of the qualities we used to see in titles of old. It’s still tough to see if they will continue to last. With just how much money there is to be made, it’s not surprising to see why so many companies fall in the end.

$25 for a skin is a Crqzy price!
byu/Chemist-Consistent indiablo4

I haven’t even gone into stuff like Valorant yet, that basically forces you into this terrible Battle Pass. Just so you can earn a currency to fully unlock skins that you already paid. Or how Diablo 4 devs think a single skin in the game is worth about half of the game’s box price. But the more you think about stuff like this, the more depressed you end up becoming at the state of gaming in general. 

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Danish is an opinion piece writer at eXputer who loves sharing his takes on the industry. He is a long-time PC gamer with a passion for delving into the discussion and discourse surrounding the titles that he plays. Often eager to jump right into the fold and formulate his take on the latest topics, his noteworthy presence on gaming forums, and keen insight help him understand the gaming community in a thorough manner. This helps him provide a more nuanced look into any topic or discussion.

Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Mass Communication.

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