The Micro-transaction Problem

New rules in the Entertainment Software Rating Board restrict in game gambling


Starwars Battlefront: II on shelves now Photo courtesy of Zavvi

Cody Bennett, Staff Writer

Loot Boxes, Crates, Star Cards, DLC, expansions and micro-transactions. Even if you don’t play video games regularly, gaming communities have rallied together to try to stop the unbalanced micro-transaction system.

Before we dive in, Micro-transactions can be big or small purchases depending on the game. They can range anywhere to cosmetic only, or give you in-game advantages. Cosmetics don’t give you an advantage over other players like a popular “car soccer” game, Rocket League. Players are able to open loot crates with keys that are purchased with hard cash and only get cosmetic items to make their car better than the next, which is not a problem. Then, in-game advantages, which allow deep wallets a very expensive lead and are not healthy for the game at all. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016 gave deep wallets a gigantic lead over those with shallow ones, ruining the game and the fun it had in store by allowing in-game advantages on weapon enhancers, purchased with cash. Making the game come down to luck instead of skill.

Even if you do have more money to spend than the next person, players shouldn’t be awarded with a better experience than little 9 year olds that only get a $20 allowance.

Micro-transactions started to rev up in 2006 when Bethesda Softworks released a famous video game, The Elder Scrolls IV:Oblivion. The success of the game and its micro-transaction system made other big companies followed suit. Micro-transactions have really been under fire for the last year and a half being called “unfair” and “wastes of money” by gaming communities around the world, rightfully so.  Electronic Arts’ Star Wars Battlefront: II took the internet by storm because of their unfair loot box system, odds so low, you have a better chance to drown a goldfish than to get something worth your money.

For those not familiar with loot boxes, they are a specific type of micro-transaction that can get you cosmetic’s only, like 2016’s Game of the Year Winner, Overwatch, they drop loot when opened, spilling items ranging from hero skins and custom emotes onto your screen in pairs of 4, and the drop rate for the rarest items, gamers give this system a clap and a half to the creators at Blizzard. Star Wars Battlefront: II uses the “crate” system which is almost exactly the same as the loot boxes, but with one fatal flaw, advantages.

Star Wars Battlefront: II  was released on November 17th, 2017, with an estimate of 1,720,000 units to be sold. As of December 8th, the company sold HALF of the prediction at 882,000 units. By then, Electronic Arts figured there was a problem.

Play equivalent to 1,000 hours or cough up a few bucks for the exact same Star Card. Creating a “pay to win” mindset in most players, many grab their wallets and spend their week’s wage to funding a company that’s already made millions. The gaming community has desperately tried everything to grab the creators attention. People with deep wallets should have the same experience as people with a lighter wallet.

A new shred of light has passed upon the gaming community. Hawaiian and European courts have taken into account the low chances of getting something worth the money you spent. The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) has finalized that the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront: II,  Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WWII and Overwatch, will not be prohibited or restricted in game as long as the rewards are fair and not randomized. The gaming communities, myself included, shouted praises as the ESRB finally restricted the gambling system in games.

With no “ban” in place and new ESRB rules being engraved into game creators minds, the community has done their part for the past three years trying to make the loot box system fair and worth the money that is being thrown onto the creators desks.