Ed Boon Responds to Mortal Kombat 11 Microtransactions Controversy

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.

Related: Mortal Kombat 11: The Best Tips & Tricks To Know Before Playing

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.

Next: How to Unlock Frost in Mortal Kombat 11

Source: Ed Boon

2019-04-25 07:04:29

Ricky Miller

Mortal Kombat 11 Will Only Have Cosmetic Microtransactions

Mortal Kombat 11 microtransactions exist, but they’ll only be applied to cosmetic items that won’t be gated behind using real currency, according to producer Shaun Himmerick during a recent livestream. The game is scheduled to release later this month, and series creator Ed Boon had previously stated there would not be any loot boxes, much to the enjoyment of many Mortal Kombat fans.

The topic of microtransactions is always a sensitive one for fans of video games. While Mortal Kombat 11‘s fighters have taken center stage in the lead up to the game’s launch, developer NetherRealm Studios has also been pretty clear that it’s looking to make a game that won’t rely on any tacky business models. Predatory microtransaction practices, like those that made EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II infamous in the community, have soured many fans on the process as a whole, often leading to fair implementations of the business model getting shouted down as exploitative as well.

Related: Mortal Kombat 11: 10 Characters We’d Love to See as DLC

NetherRealm Studios has obviously recognized this and, in anticipation of the game’s launch, has made its policies regarding Mortal Kombat 11 microtransactions very clear so that there will be no surprises come April 23. During the Kombat Kast livestream, Himmerick revealed the existence of time crystals that could be purchased with real-world money and can then be used in the store to buy things like character skins, new cosmetic gear, emotes, and easy fatalities. Himmerick was also very careful in discussing the topic, however, suggesting that none of the purchases could be leveraged for an edge in fights, and that everything the time crystals give players access to can also be earned in-game.

If that deliberate nod to the potency for toxic reactions to Mortal Kombat 11 microtransactions wasn’t enough, Himmerick also revealed that the game will award players with time crystals as a normal progression element during gameplay. No matter what, players will have the option to grind for the outfits they’re interested in, and time crystals will be a valuable time-saving measure for those who don’t have the hours to sink into acquiring extra content.

The major question that perisists regarding Mortal Kombat 11 microtransactions, however, is what the ratio on them looks like in terms of how much time it takes to earn all of the cosmetic rewards. Not being gated is fine, but it also leaves the door open for an extremely harsh system wherein players earn time crystals at a slow rate, artificially inflating the value of time crystals as a result. Given how adamant NetherRealm Studios has been about avoiding the business practices that are the pitfalls of greedy AAA titles, it seems unlikely, but it’s still a something of a fear for fans until it is explicitly confirmed to not be the case.

Next: Our Hopes for Shaggy in Mortal Kombat 11 Have Been Crushed

Source: Kombat Kast

2019-04-15 09:04:39

Cody Gravelle

Jedi: Fallen Order is Single-Player (With No Microtransactions), Releases 2019

In the current AAA gaming climate in which live-service multiplayer and microtransaction-soaked mobile games reign supreme, there are a few words that will bring gamers to a new a title in droves right now, and Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is saying all of them: single-player with no microtransactions. Star Wars Celebration is on in full-force this week, and even though potential players will finally be learning some concrete details about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order today, it’s likely this latest news is all that some needed to hear.

Jedi: Fallen Order‘s presence at Star Wars Celebration has been known for a little while now, and the public’s reception to what’s shown of the game today may ultimately be a deciding factor in publisher EA’s future with partner Disney. Having more or less piddled away six years of its exclusive ten-year Star Wars license with nerf-herding duds like the multiplayer-focused Battlefront games and, well, virtually nothing else, the pressure is on at EA and Respawn for Jedi: Fallen Order to be a commercial hit. Earlier this week, though, fans got a tiny taste of what’s to come in the form of a leaked poster, and the hype surrounding this small news seems palpable enough to allay some fears about the game’s performance upon launch.

Related: What Trailers & Reveals To Expect At Star Wars Celebration 2019

Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella took to the Star Wars Celebration stage yesterday to proudly announce that Jedi: Fallen Order is a strictly story-based experience with “no multiplayer” and “no microtransactions.” As captured in the video below, the waiting crowd went understandably wild at these words alone. The small reveal has since reverberated throughout the internet, taking the gaming community’s excitement for the mysterious game to heights even Cloud City would envy. Additionally, if Twitter user Nibel is to be believed, the hype train isn’t letting off anytime soon as the game apparently has a release date: November 15, 2019.

Set after the cataclysmic events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order will see players follow the (probably bleak) journey of a Padawan who somehow escaped death after the declaration of Order 66 – Anakin couldn’t get all of them in the Jedi Temple, after all. Left only with a small droid companion and a lightsaber, the Padawan protagonist must make his “journey to – what, well we don’t know,” according to a humorously coy Zampella. What’s known, though, is that Jedi: Fallen Order is highly unlikely to follow in the footsteps of EA’s last major Star Wars title, Battlefront II, which was lambasted by consumers and critics alike for its shamelessly greedy balance around predatory loot boxes. A holiday release this year for Jedi: Fallen Order would only put icing on the cake.

Though it may feel like fans know a lot already, there’s still a Star Destroyer-load of unknown details about Jedi: Fallen Order that have yet to be revealed. With luck, though, today’s panel focusing exclusively on the upcoming game will confirm what’s been leaked so far, and it can be hoped it’ll also show more than it tells by providing footage of the game’s never-before-seen gameplay.

More: Star Wars Explains How General Grievous Killed So Many Jedi

Source: Star Wars Celebration, Nibel/Twitter

2019-04-13 10:04:02

Phillip Tinner

Battlefield V Has Real-Money Microtransactions Now and They Suck

Hot on the heels of the latest Firestorm Battle Royale mode which has just released, there’s been another addition to Battlefield V which has had a more lukewarm reception from the community. That’s right — there’s now Battlefield V microtransactions available if you’re wanting to play the fashion game in EA’s first-person shooter.

These Battlefield V microtransactions have been on the horizon for a while, so the community hasn’t been surprised by this by any means. However, there were complaints earlier on in the year when fans noticed that content was being gated, and that the grind to the end-game was potentially being made more difficult than it had to be because of these pending microtransactions. Add that to the visibility bugs that were an issue for some time and it’s clear that EA has had a bit of a rough on-boarding time for this title.

Related: Battlefield V‘s Firestorm Review: Not Quite Ready Yet

Polygon has reported on the new in-game currency that is going to be used for the Battlefield V microtransactions, and the outlet has noted that they’re going to be called Battlefield Currency. The currency was introduced recently with the latest content patch, and allegedly EA was quick to say that it wouldn’t be something that would give characters a mechanical advantage in the game; items purchased in this matter would be acquirable through regular play as well, or be purely cosmetic in nature.

The introduction of these Battlefield microtransactions has been anticipated since the debate during the game’s launch about whether or not there would be loot boxes in the title. While the answer to that has been a no so far, the real-money aspect of the Battlefield Currency shouldn’t be understated. It was also noted that there was the possibility of an XP boost bonus to be purchased using microtransactions later on in the year, but there has not been any further comment on this from EA.

The presence of these Battlefield V microtransactions isn’t inherently an awful thing. Players will likely mostly be using their hard earned cash to look good and to sound good (thanks to the premium voice-overs in the new Elite skin sets), and if they aren’t going to be doing that, then they have the option of skipping Tiers by buying Tier boosts. The latter could very well bridge the gap between friends wanting to play together in situations where one has had the game for longer than the other. Fans haven’t been the happiest with this latest rollout as key promised features are still missing from the game, so it remains to be seen what EA will do with this information, but for now, the microtransactions are pretty underwhelming stuff.

Next: Battlefield V Will Never Get That Advertised Soldier-Dragging Feature

Source: Polygon

2019-04-12 10:04:16

Ginny Woo

Battlefield V Gets Microtransactions Next Month Which Explains Its Grind Issues

In an effort to avoid the issues of many other recent Electronic Arts published games, developer DICE was able to release Battlefield V without any sort of loot boxes, DLC packs, or season passes. Instead, its microtransactions for cosmetics would provide a long-tail of revenue but were not implemented at launch to avoid any negativity surrounding their inclusion.

That’s a trick played by the Forza franchise and several other triple-A releases, where they launch without any sort of real-money micotransactions until all the reviews come out, and after the launch hype settles in, so to does the nickel and diming begin. For Battlefield V, DICE says this was in an effort for players to acclimatize themselves to the cosmetic progression system in Battlefield V.

Related: Battlefield V Early Discounts Punish Loyal Fans Who Already Bought It

In January 2019 however, microtransactions will be added to Battlefield V, according to a retailer leaked which revealed for Xbox One a $49.99 purchase for 6000 of the premium Battlefield coins.

Dropping random loot box (i.e. gambling) and DLC pricing was a great thing for Battlefield, but DICE and EA are botching this up on two fronts.

1. Battlefield V is Still Missing Content

Battlefield V was rushed and didn’t launch with all of its advertised content, both big and small. During its launch event, and during a preview session with devs for us and other outlets before its announcement, a four-player co-op campaign (“Combined Arms”) was advertised as a mode that could generate objectives and narratives for players. A battle royale mode was also teased, and later revealed as “Firestorm” but it too is not available until late spring at the earliest.

There are also some core features missing from gameplay and progression in the game, including the ability to drag downed enemies (meaning DICE straight up didn’t finish designing gameplay before release) and the cosmetics for vehicles didn’t launch until Battlefield V’s Tides of War live service began a few weeks after launch.

Microtransactions are being implemented before the game is “complete” in a traditional sense and this is partly due to how rushed BFV is. Even rival Black Ops 4 had a three-year dev cycle. BFV had two years by comparisons since Battlefield 1 launched. Battlefield V is great, it’s just not finished.

2. Battlefield V is holding back company coins from players

The max level cap in Battlefield V is 50 and a lot of players, myself included, reached that in a few short weeks. When at that level, rewards for the in-game Company Coin currency come to a halt. Given that we’re weeks away now from a premium currency release, the timing of this yet-to-be-fixed issue is not good from an optics standpoint. The community management team has been mostly silent to updating players on this earnings problem (and issues surrounding advertised features not yet delivered and weak deluxe edition rewards). DICE likely doesn’t want players being able to buy all the cosmetics with their in-game earnings, when real money will be available soon.

We’ve reached out to EA’s PR team on Battlefield V for comment on the premium currency release in January and the issues surround company coin.

More: Where to Find Battlefield V’s Creepy Stalker Gnome Easter Egg

Source: Retailer Leak

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2018-12-28 01:12:02

Capcom is Killing Devil May Cry 5 With Greedy Microtransactions

We’ve been through this song and dance before, gaming industry. Too many times.

Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t look too hot right now thanks to ill-advised microtransactions which are killing the buzz of the otherwise hotly anticipated sequel from Capcom.

Remember when Warner Bros. Interactive was rolling our marketing for Middle-earth: Shadow of War just over a year ago, and trying to tip-toe around the game’s absurd pay-to-win microtransactions? We explained at the time why it not only makes the game look bad, but literally ruins the game design and experience.

This Article: Middle-earth: Shadow of War Microstransactions Make Game Look Bad

Surprising no one who can think for themselves, this did help ruin the game. Some players boycotted it, and eventually, after squeezing as much money as possible, the developers went back on that decision and removed the microtransactions entirely. They didn’t apologize for this nonsense of course, but the actions speak louder than PR. They were wrong. The game was skippable as a result, and now that brand and developer aren’t worthy of your trust.

It’s the same for Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and its total disaster of a launch. Even Gears of War 4 hurt itself with pay-to-win horde mode, a system so bad it encouraged players to not even finish a full set of waves. For so many publishers and developers in recent years, greed has trumped game design, and more often than not, PR speech tries to trick gamers into thinking that these are just “optional” or that the devs are kindly offering “shortcuts” for those who don’t have the time.

But if you don’t have time to play the game, why is their a premium surcharge for getting less out of the product? Why is the game so slow that there’d even be an option to skip ahead? Or is that grind built in there on purpose to psychological encourage the spending of more money?

You know the answer to all of these questions which is why we can only roll our eyes and shake our heads at Capcom with what they’re doing right now with Devil May Cry 5. Please note, that what we explain ahead is not a joke.

In Devil May Cry 5, players can acquire and spend Red Orbs, a staple of the series, to level up their character, earned simply from playing the game. These same Red Orbs can be used to revive in-game should the player character, Nero or Dante, die. That’s rather standard, right?

Devil May Cry 5 is Pay-to-Win

During demos at TGS 2018, Gamespot noted that players will also be able to spend real-money on these orbs. The franchise’s in-game shop known as Divinity Statue (or Watcher of Time) lets players spend orbs on upgrades, but these orbs are available through real-money microtransaction purchases. Devil May Cry 5 is quite literally pay-to-win. Worse yet, now players can pay real-money to be immortal too, since these orbs can be spent on revives – the more you spend the more health you get back too! What a great option! Cheat codes have been fully monetized by Capcom with DMC5.

Devil May Cry 5 game director Hideaki Itsuno explained to Gamespot that it’s just about giving players this wonderful “option.”

“With giving people the ability to purchase Red Orbs, it’s something we want to give people as an option. If they want to save time and just want to get all the stuff at once, those people can do that. But on the other hand I don’t feel you have to get all the moves. You should be able to play it the way you want to play it.”

Okay, can we play it with all unlocks without spending extra money beyond the retail price of the game? Nope. I suppose it’s not about giving players choice then, is it? It’s about nickel-and-diming through game design and player progression, elements fully controlled by Capcom in a way to maximize profit. That’s not about gameplay at all. Hideaki Itsuno continues:

“It’s interesting because from a game design point of view there’s two different things we think about when we set the prices of the moves, skills, and abilities [which can be purchased with Red Orbs]. The first thing is the stuff that we feel people should want to get first is made cheaper. So people will think, ‘Oh this is cheap so I’m just going to buy this.’ But then for the stuff that’s going to be harder to use and master, we make that more expensive. Partly because of you save up for that you’re not going to be able to buy as many skills, so you’re going to have the time to learn it. So you have to make the decision between going for the cheaper stuff or saving up, getting the thing that has a lot of application but you’ll have to spend time learning and perfecting.”

This whole monetized in-game economy thing hurts what should be the focus of the game, and certainly impacts how it’s designed and how players are rewarded for play. And as always, this isn’t optional because at the moment there will be no version of the game that doesn’t have progression and game design built around and affected by an in-game real-money store. That’s why it’s there.

Fans on social media and Reddit are expectedly mixed about all of this, even as the /r/DevilMayCry moderators hide new posts on microtransactions all under one thread, and negativity is brewing. Capcom producer Matt Walker was asked about the microtransactions on Twitter, and responded with no details whatsoever:

It’s not though, Matt.

Publishers and developers keep talking about offering shortcuts, but unless it’s a menu option or a cheat code, it’s just another ask for no actual content. If you’re just trying to maximize profit while trading off game quality, Capcom should just explain it that way so we don’t have to for you.

There’s a lot of time between now and Devil May Cry 5’s release date, so this issue can still be revolved pre-launch.

More: Are Lootboxes and Microtransactions a Necessary Evil?

Devil May Cry 5 releases March 2019 and we’ll be meeting with Capcom this week at NYCC 2018 to learn more.

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2018-09-30 01:09:22 – Rob Keyes

Europe’s PEGI Is Trying To Combat Microtransactions

Europe’s PEGI is making the first steps towards combating the growth of microtransactions and loot boxes in video games, through the launch of a new content descriptor. PEGI, which stands for Pan European Game Information, is Europe’s equivalent of the ESRB, established in 2003 to help video game players have guidance on the content of releases.

In general, PEGI has faced the same kind of challenges as its counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic, including the rise of microtransactions and loot boxes. Now, it turns out that PEGI is following suit when it comes to warnings about in-app purchases in games. After the ESRB announced the introduction of an in-game purchases label earlier this year, PEGI is now going to do the same.

Related: The Video Game Loot Box Problem Goes Deeper Than Star Wars: Battlefront II

The move was announced by PEGI directly, confirming that a new content descriptor for in-game purchases is going to be added to physical releases of games. Currently the label is included for digital releases, and it will be introduced across the board for all versions. The warning is there to advise that the game in question offers the “possibility of spending money within a video game.”

Purchase offers within games has become a broad phenomenon, and it is necessary to provide the same level of consumer information on both physical and digital releases,” stated Managing Director Simon Little. In particular PEGI clearly wants to make parents aware of potential pitfalls when it comes to in-game purchases such as microtransactions, as parents may not be aware of what a title includes. “It’s basic information, but that’s what parents sometimes feel they are lacking.”

There are, however, some potential issues with this plan which may need to be addressed. For starters, microtransactions and in-game purchases have become so prevalent in video games that more clarification may be suitable on exactly what kind of purchase it is. For instance, there’s a big difference between being able to buy cosmetic items but with free game DLC or something more pervasive like loot boxes. After all, even though microtransaction purchases are predicted to drop this year, it’s still a huge part of the gaming industry.

Even so, it’s still good to see that more awareness is being shared across the world when it comes to microtransactions. There’s been a push back against loot boxes in particular, whether its Forza finally dropping loot boxes or even more countries considering them as gambling, and allowing people to see if there could be an impact from an in-game purchase perspective is another good step.

More: 15 Games That Were Ruined By Microtransactions

Source: PEGI

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