I think the biggest lesson that sports games can learn from this is that it’s completely understandable if you want to implement these microtransactions that can make more money for your company, but at the same time, you have to offer players a legitimate chance to obtain those same rewards people are paying for without having to devote an entirely ridiculous amount of hours playing the game to do it.
There’s a middle ground that needs to be agreed upon. There are always going to be hardcore gamers that will shell out the money to get the cards they want, and others who have the kind of free time to spend entire days grinding for those same rewards. But companies have to start considering the more casual gamers who have paid for a game, and yet are then unable to access a large chunk of content without having to either spend more money or give up their lives to the grind.
I, too, believe that there’s a middle ground that can exist. Regrettably, microtransactions are an unavoidable part of the gaming landscape now. The problem with Battlefront could not exist in sports games outside of card collecting modes. Could you imagine playing a franchise mode with the Los Angeles Angels only to find that you need to pay an extra $30 or so to unlock Mike Trout? Card collecting modes are designed to function around card rarities, microtransactions, and big price tickets for big-name players. But the parallel of unlocking Battlefront’s biggest heroes for use in any mode is not quite the same as in sports gaming.
For a while, I had a blast in Diamond Dynasty this year acquiring cards and working my way towards Diamond Billy Wagner, but a 120K stub Jose Altuve was in my way. By the time I finally earned the stubs to unlock him, his value had almost doubled to around 215K stubs. At that point, after way too many hours in an annual release (let alone a mode I did not anticipate spending any time in), I became frustrated and gave up on the mode altogether. In my opinion, the big takeaway is that players will balk after seeing the obscene amount of time and/or money it would take to unlock something that they expected to be included in the release.
Let’s be clear. The reason this happened is because King Disney put its foot down. They weren’t going to let EA get away with bringing a harsh spotlight to their IP. I don’t believe that this really changes anything. That being said, the lesson here is don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I think we’re reaching a tipping point with nickel and diming — especially in sports games.
2K is the leader in ridiculous microtransactions, and more than anything gameplay related, the biggest complaint facing that NBA 2K is VC. The real lesson is for the consumer though. Make a big enough stink about something and actual change can happen. It’s time to speak with our wallets and let these companies know they can’t rob us blind.
What do you think? Should micro transactions be something gamers are more vocal about? Is there a healthy balance in rewards vs. paying for extras, even if they were once available as part of the base game package?