Developer Playsaurus has announced in a blog post that it will not be releasing the sequel to its incredibly successful Clicker Heroes game as a free-to-play title, but rather a one time upfront premium of $29.99.
In a blog post on its website, the developer said that it was changing plans for Clicker Heroes 2 due to ethical concerns over in-game monetisation and the potential addictiveness of gaming that can lead to customers unable to control their spending. The move comes following heavy criticism over publisher EA’s approach to in-game monetisation.
"Games are inherently addictive," the developer wrote on its website. "That alone is not a bad thing, until it gets abused. In Clicker Heroes 1, we never tried to abuse players with our real-money shop, and for the most part we designed it without the shop in mind so that you never have to purchase rubies to progress. Despite this, we found that some number of players spent many thousands of dollars on rubies. I can only hope that these people could afford it, and that they were doing it to support us, and not to feed an addiction. But I strongly suspect that this is not the case.
"We made a lot of money from these players who spent thousands… But we don’t want this kind of money if it came from anyone who regrets their decision, if it made their lives significantly worse as a result. Unfortunately, those who have a problem are usually in denial about it, and would be too ashamed to ask us for a refund. We would give the refund in a heartbeat. It’s not like we have artists drawing each ruby by hand. It costs us nothing but payment processing fees."
While a lot of the discourse around microtransactions and loot boxes in games has been around the potential gambling aspect of the mechanic, not much attention has yet been paid to the potential addictiveness of microtransactions.
"We really don’t like making money off players who are in denial of their addiction," added Playsaurus. "And that’s what a large part of free-to-play gaming is all about. Everyone in the industry seems to rationalize it by shifting the blame, assuming way too much cognizance on the part of their victims. People can make their own decisions, right? But it just doesn’t sit well with me. Despite very few of our players having complained, it felt wrong when we started doing it and it still feels wrong now."