The Next Mortal Kombat Needs to Be Better About Monetization

Mortal Kombat X Scorpion profile

The Mortal Kombat series is one of the most important fighting franchises in the world, and to make it even better it's been having a renaissance of late. 2011's Mortal Kombat, the ninth main series installment in the Mortal Kombat line, was a fantastic return to form, and its follow-up Mortal Kombat X in 2015 built upon what made its predecessor such a compelling experience for fans.

Developer NetherRealm Studios has not been resting on its laurels, though, and in-between releases the company has also released the DC Comics-based Injustice games. However, it certainly looks as though the Mortal Kombat series is set for another return. Recently, Ed Boon has been putting some cryptic posts on Twitter that seem to point towards a Mortal Kombat reveal at E3 2018. As such, fans of the ultra-violent fighting franchise could expect some exciting news soon.

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However, there may well be a nagging doubt in the back of the minds of some, thanks to some serious questions being asked over monetization in Mortal Kombat in general. Quite simply, there have been some fears that the series could follow in the footsteps of previous NetherRealm releases, and potentially even double down on the less savory elements of the franchise's business model. If that happens to be the case, long-time Kombat fans could be left disappointed.

Mortal Kombat X Sub Zero combat

Mortal Kombat may not be the first name that comes to mind when bad monetization in video games is brought up, and it's not one of the games that has been embroiled in loot box controversy, but there have certainly been moments that have raised eyebrows over the years. Although it may have faded from the memory for some, it's hard to forget the furore that surrounded the Easy Fatality Tokens that could be bought using real-world money in Mortal Kombat X. After all, although Mortal Kombat's vicious fatalities are not compulsory to play the game, it's still a huge part of the franchise's DNA.

It went further than that, however. Goro, a long-standing character in the franchise and one of the most recognizable faces of Mortal Kombat as a whole was locked behind DLC for anyone who didn't pick him up as a pre-order bonus. The characters included in the Season Pass, too, ended up costing half the price of the game overall. That's without getting into the Krypt, and the amount of time it would take to unlock all of the content available without being tempted by the $20 one-off price to simply unlock all Krypt content immediately. The release of the beefed-up Mortal Kombat XL may have included most costumes and all characters, but that didn't do much for those who had the original game.

Looking at Injustice 2, there's potentially even more reason for Mortal Kombat fans to be worried. The game was, from a gameplay perspective, another fantastic fighting game, but the title has been criticized by some of its player base for its microtransactions. Beyond the entry price tag to get the core game, the in-game purchases had a scathing reception from some players who suggested that it was causing the game to descend into pay-to-win.

Scorpion Hellfire

The next step may well lie with exactly what direction publisher Warner Bros. Interactive wants to go. The publisher has sometimes caught the ire of the community with its decisions, most recently with Middle-earth: Shadow of War and its use of loot boxes. The backlash eventually resulted in the game's microtransactions being removed, but by then the damage was already done to Shadow of War's reputation.

As such, Mortal Kombat fans may be in luck, as Warner Bros. may want to steer clear of any similar issues with the next game in the series. After all, Fortnite has now shown how much cash can be made with a model that steers clear of particularly predatory practices. Hopefully, Mortal Kombat will once more cause controversy through its gameplay rather than its monetization.

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