Microtransactions have been a part of the gaming industry for nearly a decade, but it’s only been the last few years that gamers have taken a strong stand against them. The majority of the frustration in the gaming community stems from microtransactions that put content behind a pay wall. This problem is then magnified if the locked content affects actually gameplay and isn't limited to cosmetic items. When some gamers can get an edge against their opponents in multiplayer situations, have access to better gear or weapons, because they spent a few extra dollars, it’s only natural that those gamers who are disadvantaged will be upset.
Fortunately, many gamers are fighting back against such practices and have recently made enough noise to get the attention of politicians and advocates around the globe. In fact, there are currently numerous political leaders in the United States and throughout the world that are actively investigating loot box practices as a form of gambling.
It’ll be interesting to see if these efforts make any progress, or if developers and publishers win out in the end. Either way, there’s no denying the fact that microtransactions have had a major effect on the gaming community.
Here are the 15 Games That Were Ruined By Microtransactions.
When Evolve was first announced, most gamers originally hailed it as a much needed shake up for multiplayer games in the industry. While reception was strong from players and critics alike during the beta testing, that all came crashing down when the game officially released in 2015.
Upon release, it was revealed that much of the content players expected at launch was locked behind microtransactions. The result was a bare bones version of the game, with players expected to shell out dozens or even hundreds of dollars to enjoy the full experience Evolve had to offer.
Players quickly deserted the game, and publisher 2K Games opted to change to a free-to-play style to reignite its diminishing player base. Those efforts have largely been unsuccessful, and Evolve stands as a prime example of a great idea gone awry thanks to microtransactions.
14 Call of Duty: WWII
It’s no secret that Activision’s Call of Duty series has been struggling over the last few years. Each new iteration since Call of Duty: Ghosts has experienced lower sales than its predecessor. Naturally, Activision was anxious to find ways to make up for any lost revenue and microtransactions seemed like the answer.
The microtransaction structure in Call of Duty: WWII, like other recent Call of Duty titles, centers around loot boxes, which offer players a range of cosmetic items that can be used with weapons and gear. While some gamers may not take issue with this practice, many have pointed out that Activision seems to be more focused on how to get money out of people than delivering a superb gaming experience.
While the game’s fun-factor is mostly the opinion of individual gamers, it’s hard to ignore the growing focus on microtransactions in Call of Duty.
13 FIFA Series
While Star Wars Battlefront 2’s microtransactions have caused the most noise in recent weeks in the gaming community, this isn’t the first time Electronic Arts has created pay-to-win scenarios for gamers. In fact, many of the sports games made by the company have been guilty of this practice for years.
The most notable example is the FIFA series’ Ultimate Team. In a nutshell, players can put together their “ultimate team”, consisting of the best players in the world. That ultimate team can then be used to play against other gamers who have built their own team.
While players can collect coins to purchase new soccer players for their ultimate team, there is a faster way to build a star-studded lineup - microtransactions. Gamers can purchase coins using real money and then use them to stack their ultimate team with the best players. While there’s still a necessary level of skill needed in PvP, having a stellar set of soccer players in-game certainly helps.
12 Assassin’s Creed Unity
While some games are ruined by microtransactions because they create an unfair balance between players, other titles are ruined because they locked content. A perfect example of this, is Assassin’s Creed Unity.
Historically, players could unlock all the weapons and gear on a progression system, meaning they were unlocked as the game progressed. In Assassin’s Creed Unity, instead of just unlocking items by playing, players earn tokens that they use to purchase items.
If players don’t want to grind for tokens, they can purchase them with real money. Interestingly, the best gear and weapons in the game cost an exorbitant amount of tokens and would require players to play for dozens of hours to obtain them. This type of microtransaction ruins video games because it motivates the developer to hide items behind high costs, which encourage players to simply spend extra real money for faster access.
11 Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush Saga is one of the most successful mobile games ever. The free-to-play matching puzzle game quickly developed a massive following and helped developer King reap hundreds of millions of dollars. Sadly, the bright-colored mobile title is riddled with layers of microtransactions.
After playing a few levels and learning the mechanics, players quickly encounter the first pay wall. As soon as players run out of lives they are met with a menu asking if they would like to purchase more. In order to continue, players need to pay for lives or wait for them to regenerate on their own.
Essentially, the free-to-play game becomes a pay-to-play title as players progress through the levels. Additionally, as players get stuck, they can visit the cash store and purchase “cheats” that help them get out of sticky situations. Knowing that King built their game to encourage a few gamers to spend lots of money has effectively ruined the game for thousands of other potential players.
10 Allods Online
After the success of World of Warcraft, many developers around the world created their own MMO titles hoping to cash in on the genre’s success. One such attempt was Allods Online from Russian developer gPotato. The original creation was impressive, offering players a compelling environment, unique gameplay, and an opportunity to enjoy everything the game had for free.
Unfortunately, that all changed when the developer decided to incorporate microtransactions. A major update to the game altered the way players gained experience points and dealt damage in the game’s PvP arena.
To get XP and deal noticeable damage in PvP, players needed to use astral essence, which was only available through real money purchases. These additions caused the once mighty “WoW-killer” to instead kill itself.
9 For Honor
While no developer will admit it, many gamers believe that developers hold back content they prepare for a game so they can sell it later as microtransactions or DLC. Few games have been accused of this more than For Honor.
One gamer set out to demonstrate just how much it would cost to purchase all the heroes, emotes, and other add-ons available through microtransactions. What he discovered was that it would cost roughly $732 to buy everything. That’s a hefty sum to unlock everything a game has to offer.
It wasn’t that long ago that players were able to enjoy everything in a game the moment they purchased it from the store. Granted, many will argue that these current practices allow developers to deliver more content for free, but it’s still hard to believe that the costs of microtransactions can be over 10 times the value of the base game.
8 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Most gamers associate microtransactions with multiplayer titles, but that changed dramatically when Eidos Montreal inserted them into Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. While the game still received strong reviews overall, many gamers’ experiences were tainted by the microtransactions that were wedged in.
For those who aren’t familiar, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided offers microtransactions for players to pick up in-game credits like Praxis Kits, and Chipsets. Chipsets are used to buy premium booster packs and custom weapons for the Breach game mode.
While the developer has insisted that microtransactions have no impact on gameplay, the implmentation of them has still left many gamers worried for the future of the series.
7 Dungeon Keeper
When it comes to mobile games, developers generally opt for one of three options for making revenue: show ads on the app, charge a one-time fee for the game, or incorporate microtransactions for a continuous revenue stream. It can be extremely frustrating when developers incorporate more than one of these.
Like many other mobile games, Dungeon Keeper allows players to get through the first section of the game for free, albeit with an abundance of annoying ads. Unfortunately, that’s when the fun ends. In order for players to progress and expand their dungeon, they need to make purchases in the cash shop to reduce the time for expansion. While other games have implemented similar tactics, none have been so restrictive and deplorable as Dungeon Keeper.
6 Plants vs. Zombies 2
Plants vs. Zombies was a major hit on mobile gaming, so it was no surprise that publisher Electronic Arts released a sequel. What was surprising, was how much impact microtransactions played in Plants vs. Zombies 2. This was an especially low blow to fans of the original, as that game cost a one time fee of $3.99.
In fact, a recent report reveals that the series creator, George Fan, was fired from EA because he was vehemently against what he called the “pay-to-win” practice of microtransactions in the game. This revelation came right on the heels of the Star Wars Battlefront 2 controversy, which was much more damaging to EA. Hopefully, EA will learn from these experiences and make the necessary changes to meet gamer expectations.
5 APB Reloaded
Similarly to other MMO games before it, APB Reloaded gained a quick following of hopeful players. The Grand Theft Auto-style MMO was the dream of many gamers, and looked like it would live up to the expectations many had laid out for it. That all changed once the developer made the game free-to-play and incorporated microtransactions.
Rather than simply selling cosmetic items that would let players change the look and style of gear, APB Reloaded developer Realtime Worlds allowed players to purchase premium weapons, vehicles, and gear with real money. When you consider the open-world, PvP nature of the game this obviously created a large imbalance between players. Unsurprisingly, APB Reloaded hemorrhaged players and has struggled to keep its servers full ever since.
4 Guitar Hero Live
Guitar Hero Live set out to shake up the traditional Rock Bank and Guitar Hero experience, by introducing new ways for players to discover songs to. The most notable way is for gamers to play through random songs via the streaming feature, and earn tokens with each successful play through. They can then use those tokens to replay songs or choose the next song they want to play.
Unfortunately, it takes a long time for gamers to rack up the credits they need to enjoy these replay and on-demand experiences. Alternatively, players can pay real money on extra credits to guarantee the opportunity to play what they want.
For many gamers, this has ruined the social aspect of the game as they can’t always enjoy the songs they want with friends and family. It’s a simple change that has left many gamers frustrated and confused.
3 War Thunder
Many gamers argue that microtransactions in free-to-play titles like War Thunder are a necessary evil. Since the game is playable for no money, the developer needs some sort of income to keep servers online and to pay their employees. However, in the case of War Thunder, it seems the developer may have gone a little too far at least in some gamers’ opinions.
War Thunder offers a huge of planes, many of which require players to grind for, or they have the option to pay up to $10 per plane. For die hard fans, that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to experience classic fighter jets and planes. But for the average gamers the prices are too restrictive, and thus hamper the experience they’re hoping for.
2 The Hunter
When it was first announced, The Hunter looked like the perfect game for hunters all across the globe. The game allowed players to pick the weapon of their choice and head out into the world in search of that trophy kill.
Unfortunately, the developer decided to treat The Hunter a little too much like real life. Rather than allowing players to hunt any animal they wanted, players could only hunt a couple types for free in each session. In order for the player to get better gear or unlock more challenging creatures, players were forced to pay real money for digital licenses.
These licenses, which expired after a certain amount of time, were required to continue playing. Unsurprisingly, such requirements have pushed many gamers away from The Hunter.
1 Star Wars Battlefront 2
The most recognizable example of poor microtransaction implementation is Star Wars Battlefront II, which launched just a few weeks ago. Fortunately for the gaming community, many players obtained access to the shooter a few days ahead of everyone else thanks to the EA Access program.
Those who had early access quickly discovered that EA had locked the game’s heroes and villains behind unreasonable limits. One gamer discovered that it would take 40 hours of playtime to unlock each character, and nearly 5,000 hours to unlock and upgrade them all. Alternatively, players could spend up to a whopping $2,100 on microtransactions to gain access to the full selection of content.
Fortunately, these ridiculous practices led to a boycott of the game and EA decided to turn off the use of real money for the time being. Hopefully, positive changes will continue to happen and the games we love to play will remain focused on quality instead of profitability.
Do you know of another game that was ruined by microtransactions? Let us know in the comments!