Publisher Take-Two has told investors that all of its future releases will offer players the chance to buy microtransactions.
In an investor call after its latest financial results, Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick said: “If we create a robust opportunity and a robust world in which people can play delightfully in a bigger and bigger way that they will keep coming back and they will engage and if there is an opportunity to monetize that engagement.
“Furthermore we've said that we aim to have recurrent consumer spending options for every title that we put out at this company.
“It may not always be an online model. It may not, probably won't always be a virtual currency model, but there'll be some ability to engage on an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board.
“And that's a sea change in our business… It's been transformative for us and the only reason it's transformative for us is because it's transformative to our consumers. The business that once upon a time was a big chunky opportunity to engage for tens of hours or perhaps 100 hours has turned into ongoing engagement, day-after-day, week-after-week.”
In fact, the term ‘recurrent consumer spending’ cropped up a total of nine times in the call, as per Seeking Alpha’s transcript.
The topic of microtransactions, or ‘games-as-a-service’, has been causing a lot of unrest recently. Warner’s single-player Middle-earth: Shadow of War was criticised for what many felt was a forced effort to cram microtransactions into the game. EA also came under heavy fire when some attributed its decision to ditch Volition’s Star Wars game and close the studio to a want to instead create a title with a monetised open-world, although the publisher has denied this.
Fellow EA title Star Wars Battlefront II has even redesigned its premium loot crate system in response to criticism.
As much as microtransactions may be lighting the touch paper online right now, there are three things that critics must bear in mind:
- Publishers publish games to make money - this is literally how (and, in nearly all cases, why) they exist
- The majority of publishers are answerable to shareholders and are, by their very nature, obliged to do whatever they can to maximise profits and shareholder returns
- Microtransactions can only proliferate because they are proving successful – in other words, people are choosing to buy them
The latter point is the most telling. If microtransactions were hated to the extent of being damaging, they would be long dead. As much as there is a lot of rightful criticism that can be placed at their feet, ultimately it is consumers who have endorsed and empowered the model.
Whether a sudden industry-wide surge to roll-out microtransactions on a larger scale could ultimately damage their popularity and eventually start hurting sales, of course, remains to be seen. And the more microtransactrions are embraced, the bigger the opportunity becomes for those who knowingly and publicly resist them to tap into like-minded consumers.