Middle Earth: Shadow of War is going to have microtransactions. We were made aware of this last week in a blog post and livestream from Monolith where they explained how the system would work. We detailed this new setup, and you can read it here. Some people automatically have a gut-wrenching reaction to microtransactions due to their poor implementations in the past by companies such as Electronic Arts. In fact, things got so bad with microtransactions and DLC that EA was rated the worst in America two years in a row. This was based on how the system was implemented and how it hurt players rather than disgust at its actual existence.
Some players are against microtransactions no matter what. This is illogical. There is no reason to be against something that doesn’t hurt the game or provide an advantage to anyone. Proper implementation is the key since microtransactions usually require purchase with real currency. So, what’s the problem if a company utilizes real cash microtransactions in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone or provide an advantage to anyone else? Monolith and Warner Bros. seemed to have figured out the right way to do this with Shadow of War, and it becomes obvious once you get past the knee jerk, virtue signaling reaction to the dreaded word ‘microtransaction’.
To recap, Shadow of War will have two forms of currency; Myrian (in game) and gold (real money). Every single item available with gold will be available to acquire in game. These will include gear/armor loot chests with varying levels of items, war chests with orc followers, XP boosts and bundles. Now, I’ve played every aspect of Shadow of Mordor and have 100% of the achievements including the DLC packs. My favorite part was leveling up on my own outside of the story and figuring out how to best dominate the orcs. While I enjoyed it, others may not be so inclined to grind for that better piece of gear. This is a personal preference, and it has literally zero effect on other players since Shadow of War is strictly a single player game.
Look at it this way. I was excited to see how big Shadow of War was and planned on going for 100% completion before the announcement of microtransactions. Therefore, these loot crates don’t have any negative impact on me or the game. Ipso facto, why should I care? Who am I to judge if another player decides to spend a couple of bucks in order to unlock a legendary set of gear in his own, self-contained game? Some players may want to finish the whole game, but maybe not have enough time due to a variety of personal reasons. In this case, making a small purchase or two may remove some of that time restraint and let them play more, which in turn provides further enjoyment. Others may not care at all and just want to beat it as fast as they can for a Youtube channel. If so, who cares?
I’ll admit that adding the option to purchase orc followers to the market was a bit odd to me. Leveling up in Shadow of Mordor was necessary as it helped you dominate orcs faster and more efficiently. This opened up more options in completing missions and allowed for more creativity to your approach. I won’t buy any of the orcs, as it takes away from the experience I want out of the game. That being said, I couldn’t care less if YOU want to drop $100 on the best gear out of the gate because there is no multiplayer, and you have no advantage over me. It’s illogical for me to be upset at you for doing something that I could have done but chose not to.
The other complaint is that it requires an always online internet connection. This is where context needs to come into play because it’s not completely true. You see, the game itself does not require an internet connection. Shadow of War is a single player only game that can be played completely offline if you choose. The only thing that would require the internet is if you choose to purchase gold with real money. You would need to be rerouted to the Xbox store to do so, or connect to the internet if you downloaded it from your PC/mobile phone. Here’s the beauty with this setup: It automatically cancels out arguments on both sides of the microtransaction debate. It doesn’t affect you if you don’t plan on purchasing anything with real money since the game doesn’t require a connection. On the other side, you can’t have your cake and eat it too if you do plan on making real money purchases. After all, you’re biting the hand that feeds you if you are trying to make an online purchase to help you gain an advantage in a game, but then complain about the manner in which you’re required to get that advantage. It’s like getting mad at someone for accusing you of lying when you were lying. You don’t have a leg to stand on.
Those who are going to be the angriest about microtransactions are not going to buy them. So why do you care if you’re not going to buy them, they don’t impact your game negatively, and they don’t provide an advantage to anyone else over you? There’s no logical answer in the affirmative to this. If one’s answer is that one simply does not think microtransactions should be in games at all, then I have bad news for you. This is the beauty of a free market economy. They’re not going anywhere as they are clearly a viable option, allow more enjoyable outcomes for players and increase revenue for developers. This extra income allows developers to make better games in the future. It’s fine if one does not purchase real money transactions. Nobody is forcing you. This is another beauty of a free market economy. On the other side, the increased revenue stream from those players who do make real money purchases only increases the future enjoyment of players who don’t. Think about it. Why be mad at someone for spending their real money on a fake game for something that doesn’t affect you only to help them beat the game a little bit faster? They’re “wasting” their own money so you can get a better game in the future. You should be thanking them. Furthermore, you can’t be mad at someone for trying to make the most amount of money they can so long as it doesn’t negatively affect anyone.
There are games that have messed up microtransactions in the past, don’t get me wrong. That’s why some players get butthurt at the mere mention of the word. A logical person doesn’t use the exception to prove the rule. It’s the same reason why NFL teams try to get a first round quarterback. They know waiting to the sixth round because that’s where Tom Brady was picked is a needle in a haystack situation. It’s important to look at things logically when it comes to context, and microtransactions are a commodity which require context. Whether or not you like microtransactions is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Monolith did their homework and integrated them into Middle Earth: Shadow of War the best way possible without harming a single player. All developers should follow this model in the future when they choose to use microtransactions.
Bottom line is there is no logical reason to be mad about the manner in which microtransactions are implemented in Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and people need to pump the brakes with the anger.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War releases on October 10th, 2017.