Microtransactions(Micropayments) and paid items are now common in the global game industry. This method is increasingly used not only in countries where free-to-play games are popular, such as South Korea and China, but also in the Western nations.
The question is how you design it. Depending on how you design it, your game could be popular or your game could get criticism. And applying microtransactions to console games is another matter. Most mobile games are free-to-play, but console games are usually sold for around $60.
In this regard, the basketball game NBA2K20 has been criticized by a lot of users and the media. First of all, there are criticisms about applying microtransactions to MyCareer mode, which is a singleplayer mode. In the sports games, microtransactions are common in multiplayer mode. FIFA Ultimate Team of EA's FIFA series is a prime example. Applying microtransactions to the singleplayer mode is unusual. I personally see this for the first time.
And microtransaction in NBA2K20 is too harsh. When you purchase a paid game, you would expect that you can enjoy singleplayer mode without worrying about microtransactions. However, in NBA2K20, if you enjoy singleplayer mode without microtransactions, you would start with low-level character. To start with a character with 85 points out of 100, you need to spend about $50.
How much time does it take to make a decent character without microtransactions? I can’t even calculate that. You'll also need to buy a bunch of other animations, like a dunk shot. If you don't buy it, your character won't dunk. To buy these, you need virtual currency. And you can buy virtual currency with microtransaction. It is an obvious sales gimmick.
This is too harsh. MyCareer mode is singleplayer mode. You play it alone. And everyone would want to make a good and decent character when they start singleplayer mode. However, in NBA2K20, it takes microtransaction to make a good and decent character.
In addition, a lot of things such as clothes and shoes worn by the character are connected to the microtransaction. I haven't seen a paid game that induces microtransactions this much in recent years. Users are criticizing this game. They say “this game is paid trial version” or “this game is full of microtransactions”, “it's like a free-to-play mobile game rather than a paid game”. I believe these criticisms make sense.
Slot machines also appear in the game. 2K emphasized these elements in promotional videos. I personally think this has crossed the line.
When a game become controversial like this, a bad thing for the game industry could happen. 'Star Wars Battlefront 2', which was released in November 2017, is a prime example. The game was highly anticipated at the time. But after the game was released, a lot of users pointed out that microtransaction was too harsh. After that, EA made major changes regarding microtransaction of ‘Star Wars Battlefront 2’.
And after this happened, a lot of people in Europe wondered whether lootboxes are gambling or not. The controversy still exists in Europe and the United States. Several game company officials have been summoned to the British Parliament. In the United States, Senator Josh Hawley issued a bill to regulate paid items and lootboxes. The Federal Trade Commission(FTC) of the United States held a public workshop on lootboxes. Because of one game, lootboxes have become controversial in Europe and the United States.
I hope developers of NBA2K20 and 2K will humbly accept criticism. Even if they don't modify the game right now, I hope that they reflect the voices of the users when they develop next game. Otherwise, if they go one step further, the game can get more serious criticism. And those people who are willing to criticize games will get another “weapon”. I hope it won’t happen.
김창훈 기자 firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © 게임뷰, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>