Micropayments in videogames have gone on for a long time. But the way these systems are implemented today destructive to the credibility of games. Now, everyone needs to make a buck in order to keep producing games and I get that businesses are out to make money but the degree in which game design choices are viewed within the lense of “How can I convince the player to give me money?” instead of “How does this bring more fun/happiness/fear to the player?” is infuriating. To me, these games feel more like casino slot machines, using psychological tricks (like machines at the end of the rows payout more) to get quarters.
There are two goals of most current micropayment games. Increase the amount of users in your base. And get as many users as possible to buy as many things as possible. The way these games accomplish this is
- Put artificial roadblocks or incentives that require users to recruit more users. Much like many pyramid schemes those within the user base have an imperative to recruit otherwise they cannot be successful within the organization.
- Put shortcuts within the game that bypass intentionally clunky or difficult features. This would be similar to a Windows product charging an extra 15 dollars in order to use the mouse. Although technically you can use the keyboard to get to nearly everything in the OS, the OS is specifically designed for a mouse interface. The same with these games, you are specifically intended to harvest crops, build things, but in order to do it effectively you have to put money into it.
Ultimately these tactics cheapen games as a whole. As users begin to realize they are being bilked by these games which millions of users play, it will turn off users to playing all games as they generalize their own experience towards the rest of the games industry. This is not good design and the companies behind it are creating games to provide only enough incentive to continue paying out, not to forward our medium.