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Anti-Aliased: Microtransaction mayhem


You know, I would be quite amiss if I didn't take the time to weigh in on the microtransaction and subscription argument that has been going around town lately. It seems to be the buzz on everybody's lips.

For those of you not in the know as to what I'm talking about, here's the deal. With the upcoming release of Champions Online, Cryptic is taking a double-edged approach to generating revenue. The game is going to run on a standard subscription package, but it will also let players have the option of buying extra "account options" and costume pieces via Cryptic Points.

Now, some people feel as if this is a perfectly fine way to conduct business, while others find this system to be nothing more than price gouging and unnecessary. How do I feel? Well, jump the break and I'll give you my feelings on both sides of the argument.

You're making me pay twice!

If there is any comment i've heard a lot these past days, it's that one. People instinctively look at the subscription + microtransaction model as paying twice for the same game.

The dominant feeling is, if I'm not mistaken, "I'm paying 50 dollars for your game, 15 a month to play it, and now you want to tease me with extra items you already made and are not including in my original package." And, to that end, I can understand completely.

50 bucks is a lot of money to put down for a piece of entertainment and paying 15 a month is no laughing matter either. You would think the developer would put everything they've made for you into the game for you to have. Instead, they're keeping some things from you and slapping more price stickers on them. It's frustrating.

"But the sticking point for me, when it comes to this argument, is that no one is forcing you to buy the microtransaction content.'"

You'd think they'd just take the whole pile of these things and just release it down the line as a free content pack or something. Or just release it as an expansion and you'll gladly toss a hunk of money at it then. But the whole nickle and dime thing -- just not buying it.

You don't want to be charged twice for game content you rightfully deserve as a paying subscriber.

...but no one's making you do anything.

Sorry to everyone who feels that way. I can completely understand not wanting to pay more for your game. It's frustrating, like I said before, and doubly so when you're already paying for a subscription. But the sticking point for me, when it comes to this argument, is that no one is forcing you to buy the microtransaction content.

There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from simply purchasing the game and playing it through without purchasing a single item from the Cryptic store. I know I'll log into Champions, peruse the store, and probably not purchase anything unless it's extremely related to my character concepts. Even then, I'm not going to go out of my way to purchase a whole swath of things... perhaps one or two cheap items that would add to my style.

I personally think that's the beauty of the whole microtransaction model -- it's optional and it's flexible. Maybe I don't want to buy a whole pack of character augmentations because I know I'm not going to use half of them. Maybe I don't want to purchase an expansion pack for my game because I know most of the stuff won't pertain to me.

But, when you bring it down to the microtransaction model, I'll gladly throw a dollar your way for sparkling angel wings or that new punk hairstyle because then I don't have to put up with purchasing the demon outfits and all those new weapons I won't use for 15.99. I save money by not buying stuff I don't want while the developer is still making money. Both sides get what they want.

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