For many platforms, microtransactions have become a core way for the games to operate and stay profitable – particularly within many mobile gaming genres. The biggest would be through online casinos as the whole model relies on users to deposit to play, and despite recent regulation adjustments to systems such as Gamstop aimed at reducing player participation options, these casinos here and many others are choosing to register elsewhere to avoid the restrictions – but the success of microtransactions have led them to spread to other games and are starting to bring up questions around whether or not the practice should stay.
The latest example of this has come from Riot Games newest title of Valorant, and the Elderflame cosmetic set that released this past weekend. The publisher isn’t new to the cosmetic game, their other popular title League of Legends has a storied history of releasing cosmetic skins but have typically been very affordable with only the most exclusive skins having a dramatic bump in price – but since the full release of Valorant just a few weeks ago there have been questions raised about bundle pricing as the two early bundles came with a $70 price tag without the optional upgrades available. The latest set however pushes this price tag a bit higher, to buy the bundle with all of the upgrades, it would set a player back $260 – now of course these are optional cosmetics, as with the upgrades, but to have such a sharp price tag attached, is the practice sustainable given it is spreading to all genres across all platforms?
It isn’t the worst example of pricey cosmetics either, fans of the biggest FPS esport in Counter-Strike will be all too aware of the skins that can range in to the tens of thousands of dollars but there has been a distinction made that these skins are quite exclusive and limited with very few ever actually having them as opposed to cosmetics that are available to absolutely everybody at all times. A lot of players are now speaking up on the practice and voicing frustrations with the system however as the prices are starting to get a little out of hand and the justification of optional content doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.
The concerns now rest with future releases – it’s likely that there are other of these more expensive sets on the way with the Elderflame set being an early indicator of what’s to come and the increasing costs of these cosmetics over time, with such a new game to receive criticisms so early when there are talks that it may be the next big esport could be damaging to the game, there are also calls to have these skins disabled in competitive play because of the big effects and sounds that come with them and if that’s the case then it may find some players buying these skins only to find they’re unable to use them for many of their games.