BY HARRISON BLUTO
Photo courtesy of AP Images.
Rockstar Studio launched Red Dead online Nov. 27. While the overall experience is fun with a few bugs here and there, something stood out to me while playing it. The online mode has an additional form of in-game currency other than money which is gold bars. This new form of currency allows players to buy items that couldn’t be obtained otherwise or to transfer it into normal currency if the player does not have enough cash to buy an item normally.
Currently, the in-game store is not open but these gold bars will be a buyable item in it. Items such as gold bars are known as microtransactions, optional to purchase items in a game that are typically used to advance a player faster or to get exclusive digital items.
The main issue with these Red Dead Redemption Gold Bars is that making normal currency in the game is an extremely slow process. The only way to currently make a large amount of money is to play story missions, the issue with this; however, is that these missions can only be played once and that there are only a few of them due to the game being in beta.
This means that after about five hours of in-game time, players are stuck with only side missions such as escorting caravans to make money. These side missions; however, only pay the player two to five dollars of in-game currency. Even though this would be somewhat accurate having the game take place in the late 1800s the items that players can buy are far more expensive compared to what the player makes.
Unless players spend the money to acquire gold bars, they need to play hours of caravan escorting missions to progress in the slightest from an item perspective. Unless this issue is changed, Red Dead Redemption 2’s online mode will be abandoned quickly and only those who spend real money on additional purchases for the online mode will stick around.
This brought to mind the current issue of microtransactions that the gaming industry is facing. Recently, more Triple-A games have microtransactions then do not. The argument for the placement of these microtransactions is usually that the placement of microtransactions offsets the price that games should be now due to inflation.
If this was the case then why are the only games that have microtransactions games that do more then break-even on production costs. Games such as Call of duty, Overwatch, BattleFront, and Red Dead Redemption are all extremely successful money makers. Red Dead Redemption 2 even outsold Avengers: Infinity War’s opening weekend by pulling in $725 million. Yet they still feel the need to place extra money grabbing schemes into their games such as this new gold bar currency in Red Dead Redemption 2’s online mode.
Microtransactions are not needed in these kinds of games. If the issue of not making money without microtransactions is real then why aren’t smaller game studios doing it as well? Small independent studios would be the companies that would benefit if the breaking even argument was valid.
Until recently, Microtransactions use to exist primarily in Free to Play games like Warframe and League of Legends. Microtransactions are more appropriate in these settings because the upfront game is free to play and then you can choose to give them money for cosmetics(items such as fancy outfits) or characters. In the form of microtransactions
In my opinion, these new microtransaction practices do nothing but harm the overall experience of the game for the company to make a profit. Players that don’t want to spend the money on in-game items will quickly get passed by players who do spend money which inevitably causes non paying players to leave entirely.