Activision is taking microtransactions to a whole new level by charging Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 players a dollar for a dot in their crosshairs. While the average AAA game will set you back at least $60, publishers have long been figuring out ways to squeeze a little more money out of players by charging extra for digital goodies - whether it's a fancy new skin for a weapon, or extra resources that offer an edge in the game.
"Microtransaction" has become something of a dirty word in the gaming community, with many players feeling that the content they're charged extra for should have been included in the core game. It's not just gamers who regard them with suspicion; the Federal Trade Commission recently pledged to investigate loot boxes in games, since the lack of certainty regarding their contents means that loot boxes may constitute a form of illegal gambling.
Call of Duty fans have already been very critical of Black Ops 4's microtransactions, since progression through the Black Market tiers through gameplay was made to be a slow and tedious grind in order to tempt people to simply pay to skip past it. Now, in a detail that seems like a parody of the video game industry's love of charging extra for basic content, Multiplayer First has discovered a new in-game purchase of... a single red dot. This serves as a reticle for the Reflex gun sight, and is currently on sale for a mere 50 COD points (or 50 cents). So, be sure to grab it now before the 50% off sale ends and that red dot goes back to costing a whole dollar.
While it might be argued that video game microtransactions are totally optional and you can choose not to buy them, the presence of microtransactions does affect the core game by walling off content that should have been included and charging extra for it. As mentioned above, many games also deliberately force players to grind for hours on end in order to unlock content, in the hopes that they will simply pay to unlock that same content in order to save time.
Unfortunately, microtransactions like the reticle dot are unlikely to go away any time soon, for the simple reason that a lot of people are willing to pay for them. In 2017, Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive revealed that in-game purchases made up almost 50% of the company's net revenue - a staggering $460.85 million dollars. Unless we see a reversal of the trend, publishers will likely only continue to think up creative ways to wring more money out of players.
Source: Multiplayer First