The microtransaction trend has received a great deal of press over the past few weeks, with both Electronic Arts and Crytek staking a large proportion of their future business on the model. Now Activision is entering the fray by adding the micro-pay structure to its flagship franchise.
As a way to test the waters and see how valuable these mini-payments will be for the company going forward, Activision-Blizzard is rolling out a limited number of microtransactions for Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Although this will be exclusive to the Xbox 360 at first, the PC will start implementing the format very soon.
Activision’s Social Media Manager, Dan Amrich, calls the transactions themselves “either personal customizations or nice little luxuries”, which won’t “affect gameplay” but rather offer “small, specific ways to enhance your online experience.”
He continues by mentioning that, “At the end of the day, all of these items are completely optional, and were created for players who have asked for more customization options. If that’s not you, that’s fine.”
Well, that sounds harmless, but of course, this is how every company representative would talk when new costs are added to existing technology. If successful, we will surely be seeing a lot more microstransactions in future Activision offerings, but to what extent is still yet to be determined.
The model itself can be a strong addition to any game or service, but there is a fine line between a fair and balanced microtransaction model and one that schewes the competitive advantage toward those who pay more. The ability to compete should not be compromised in any way, making Activision’s current balancing act very difficult. It will be interesting to see how this all works out though.
As a way to gauge how much these microtransactions will cost PC gamers when made available, here is a listing of current prices for the Xbox 360:
- Personalization Packs (unique camos, three targeting reticles and a Calling Card) – $2
- Nuketown 2025 MP Zombie map – $5
- Flags of the World Calling Card Packs – $1
- 10 extra Create-a-Class slots – $2
Other options include more media storage for theater mode and the supremely essential “Bacon Personalization Pack” that wraps your weapon in cured pork….What? I cannot believe I just wrote that, but I am definitely starting to get hungry.
While I am eating, let us know what you think of this announcement and if it is a good or bad thing for the series (and gaming industry in general).