Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon has responded to criticism aimed at the latest game in the series, Mortal Kombat 11, and the way it implements microtransactions. The veteran game director took to social media to defend his company, NetherRealm Studios, and the game itself from complaints that the game was designed to encourage spending extra real world money rather than playing the game itself.
Since its release on April 23, Mortal Kombat 11 has received positive reviews. However, one constant gripe fans have had with the game is that its systems seem designed to reward players more for spending extra cash than for actually playing it. In the lead up to its release, NetherRealm Studios heavily advertised the game’s customization features and the ability to unlock cosmetic changes for every character. The game does reward players with various skins, but unlocking those skins requires a hefty time investment in the game’s Tower of Time. This mode challenges players with increasingly difficult situations that, once completed, give them in-game currency to buy different customization items in the game’s Krypt mode. If the player doesn’t want to do all that, they can instead pay real money to get a premium in-game currency immediately to buy some of the items. Given the difficulty and tedium of the challenges, the large amount of rewards to buy, and the relatively small amount of in-game currency awarded, many are calling out what they feel is a grind-heavy system made to frustrate players into paying for shortcuts.
Ed Boon took to Twitter to directly address the mounting backlash and debunk the idea that Mortal Kombat 11’s main goal is squeezing players for more money. In response to stories that purchasing all of the cosmetic options the game has to offer would cost players $6,440 in real money, according to VG247, Boon stated that the “VAST VAST majority of MK11 skins are NOT for sale…You have to EARN them IN GAME!” Boon does not plainly say how much buying all of the skins that are for sale would cost, nor does he comment on the high amount of grinding needed to get all the skins. Instead, he wants fans to know that they are rewarded for putting in in-game hours.
NetherRealm Studios does typically take a stance against loot boxes and pay-to-win tactics, and Boon is repeating that claim in his tweet. The studio has already acknowledged the game’s issues with grinds and in-game microtransactions. Though this tweet does not specifically bring them up, the studio is planning an update that will hopefully mitigate the feeling of heavy grinding for loot and rewards.
This may be one in a long line of recent games that are designed around microtransactions, or it may have been a poorly thought out misstep that fans were quick – and right – to call out. Ultimately, the skins are not a core part of the gameplay design; they are optional cosmetic customizations that are awarded for completing optional tasks. However, the Tower of Time and Krypt modes contain so much of the game’s content, including the skins, that calling them completely optional feels somewhat dishonest. Few will deny that Mortal Kombat 11 is a solid fighting game, but with so many saying how much the grind ruins the experience, Boon and his studio will have to act with more than just tweets to retain their goodwill with fans.
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Source: Ed Boon