Microtransactions and loot boxes were the big issues in the gaming industry last year. Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront 2 shared the spotlight during the controversy. While Star Wars Battlefront 2 had a “pay-to-win” mentality with microtransactions, Middle Earth: Shadow of War utilized them in the worst way. Players could use real-world money to unlock stronger items earlier in the game. Doing this would allow players to become more powerful before they would get there through normal progression. I own Shadow of War, but I never got around to playing it. When I finally decide to start the adventure title, I don’t have to worry about microtransactions because the development team got rid of the issue. I assumed we were done with the microtransaction controversy, but then Devil May Cry 5 reared its ugly head into the conversation. Enough is enough; microtransactions in single-player games need to go.
In an interview with Gamespot, Devil May Cry 5 director Hideaki Itsuno spoke about the reasoning behind the inclusion of microtransactions in the upcoming action game.
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.
Gamespot also asked him how microtransactions would affect a player’s “learning process” when it comes to honing your skill in a game like Devil May Cry 5.
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.
I hate when people say they want to give people an option. I understand the practice in multiplayer games (I’m still against it when used in competitive games), but it makes no sense in a single-player experience. Simply put, microtransactions in single-player games are another form of greed and one that shouldn’t exist. The second quote doubles down on a business tactic that feels dirty. The very end of the quote that reads “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. That is the problem in a nutshell. By purchasing these moves before you should unlock them through natural progression “ruin” the experience.
I’m well-versed in the Devil May Cry franchise and have been playing DMC recently. Over time, you get enough red orbs to unlock insane combos for Dante (or Virgil) in the DLC to use in battle. By the time I unlock new combos, I’ve learned how to play the game and the moves I purchase feel like the next step in becoming a badass demon hunter. If players use actual money to unlock powerful moves early on, it does two things.
- It robs the player of the experience: Non-linear single-player games usually follow the same format for everybody. Unless you really like the game, many lack replayability. Games like Devil May Cry don’t scream “play again” unless you’re going for achievements. Since many people (myself included) will probably play it once and walk away, why use real money to make the game easier? I’d hate to “lessen” my experience by spending more money after the already hefty $60 price tag.
- It makes the game easier: This one can be seen as a strecth but hear me out. How many people play on the toughest difficulty from the start? I do that occasionally but I usually start on normal or hard (depending on how many difficulties there are) for my first playthrough. DMC featured a new-game-plus mode. I was able to unlock all of the abilities during my first time through the game, and then I had the same things unlocked during subsequent playthroughs. If Devil May Cry 5 does indeed feature a new-game-plus mode like its predecessor, what’s the point of using the microtransactions? After your first time playing the story, you can replay it with moves intact. What would be the point of spending more money if you can keep moves you unlocked for the rest of your playthroughs?
Going from my last point, I’m actually concerned that there won’t be a new-game-plus mode. If there isn’t and you must unlock abilities during each playthrough, microtransactions would be an even scummier move than it already is. Imagine if people purchased microtransactions (I’m not sure how much orbs will cost yet) but had to do it again on a harder difficulty? That would be unacceptable. The fact that Capcom is stooping to the levels of other companies that have used this practice (and were torn apart by consumers) is beyond me. Just because something may have worked in that past doesn’t mean that it will always be successful. Once again, Middle Earth: Shadow of War saw a talented developer fly too close to the sun before crashing down. I honestly think that Capcom is heading in the same direction.
This puts me in a predicament; do I buy Devil May Cry 5 when it launches next year, or do I stick to my guns and boycott the game? The are consequences to each of these choices. Buying Devil May Cry 5 means that I’ll have a fun game, but I’ll be letting Capcom know that I’m okay with the descions the company made regarding the game. By skipping the upcoming sequel, it could lead to the studio losing money, the team being reduced, or even the franchise ending due to low sales.
I’ll say what I always say when it comes to a controversial topic. Speak up and speak loudly. If you have an issue with how a company is handling its product, as a consumer, it’s our job to let them know how we feel. Are you against microtransactions? If so, email Capcom, tweet them, make the appropriate people know how you feel. Are you okay with this practice? You know what? If you are, let them know. It’s vital for studios, developers, publishers, investors, etc. to understand how consumers feel about things.
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, you know where I stand on the issue of microtransactions in single-player games. They’re unnecessary, useless, slimy, and uncalled for. They do nothing to amplify the game, only to unlock things faster. Not only is the story single-player, but it’s also a $60 game. Full-priced video games should not contain additional fees outside of DLC that extends the experience. Capcom got me hyped in the Microsoft Theater when the company announced Devil May Cry 5 last June. A few months later, and I’m losing interest in a game that I couldn’t wait for. Let’s see what happens, but the ball is now in Capcom’s court. Will they learn the lessons that other games learned the hard way through less than stellar sales? Or will the company make the right choice and omit the heinous practice before Devil May Cry 5’s March 2019 launch? Only time will tell, but I’m concerned for the future of one of my favorite franchise.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89