The Star Wars Battlefront 2 Beta is out and it is creating some conflict between my friends about the pros and cons of the ‘pay to win’ aspects of the game. Before we get into it though, this isn’t a new concept for games. These days most major multiplayer games have some kind of crate/loot system but they are all handled differently in my opinion (some better than others). The idea is that throughout normal play you can earn a variety of rewards as you progress, however you can also purchase these with real money to speed up the process…
The conflict boils down to ‘if you can pay from day 1 you have an unfair advantage against those who decide to not pay on release and instead earn it’. I‘ll break it down into various comments I have seen heard (largely in an extensive group WhatsApp message) while putting my comments against them. I’ll also look at current games and apply them where possible. All of this is my opinion:
If you are a good player then skill will always trump the benefits of paid for advantage. If you’re better at shooting then you will always come out top.
Ryan: I understand this point. Sometimes the advantages can be marginal and therefore a better player will get around the perceived advantage they have invested in. However, at the same time they have invested in an advantage… Meaning skill is negated/tested in an unfair platform. This works for those players who are good players that can invest the time into the game, however for the average gamer, two people with the same skill level, one with the paid advantage (ie, a support card giving 10% health) while the other is playing the game fresh out the box. Which player has the advantage? Obviously the person who has invested and got the extra items etc.
Loads of games have this and it’s an issue across loads of games.
Ryan: I agree that this is across loads of games however they are handled differently. Overwatch is a casing point, you can spend £100s on loot boxes, but you only gain cosmetics and collectables. You’re paying to get a cool outfit for your favourite character or satisfy your compulsive need to collect every skin, not to gain advantage. Whether my Mercy is running around like an Imp or a soldier is of no impact to my ability to be a subpar healer. Flip over to Battlefront, the hot topic, where you can buy boxes that give the opportunity to get abilities that give you an advantage, especially early game when people are still low level, then you see that paying money does in fact give you an advantage…
If people need to/want to pay the money they obviously need the help.
Ryan: not necessarily… As mentioned you have the players who are good players, so take a current Battlefront 1 fan who is familiar with the control’s etc who want to get that early boost are at a big advantage as they have both the skill and the equipment. I’m on the flip side of this, I will not pay money for a game that I am not good at- it is a waste of money. If I am going to 1, not enjoy the game 2, not play it that much 3, rage and trade it in, then I won’t get that booster pack say. I’d rather buy an Overwatch Loot Box or Hearthstone card pack. I agree that some players will buy to get the help, and that’s fine. Sometimes having that advantage can make the game bearable when it’s also possible that you jump into a game full of pros and streamers.
It’s unfair on everyone, especially those who cannot afford it. People should earn their equipment like they used to.
Ryan: this was a particularly hot point. It even boiled down to the whole areguement on disposable income, which to be fair is a fair challenge. Paying for these boosts gives ‘richer’ people an advantage over the ‘poorer’ people. Not to get into a socialist debate, but largely it can feel that way. That said, if all the content is available through leveling/earning it then it’s a time advantage and not access to exclusive gear. It doesn’t negate the challenges of skill though. Also you can spend a lot of money on these boxes and still get crap… Granted the more you pay the more you can guarantee decent drops, however you’re still in a system that is designed to make you want more and keep buying. But naturally yes in my mind it can create that divide, not necessarily between rich and poor but those who are willing to and those who aren’t.
Commercially, I think that it can make some businesses lazy if they rely on microtransactions however used in the right way it can also provide a regular and steady stream of revenue to support servers and new content for example. Ubisoft however are notorious for having terrible servers and get quite critical feedback about the money they generate v the service they provide sometimes. It’s part of a lot of games/companies business models now and something that won’t be going away anytime soon.
Do you buy into the microtransactions? Think they create an unfair advantage or do you think they simply allow people to support a game they already love? Let me know and leave a comment!