Microtransactions and DLC (downloadable content)/Expansion packs in premium titles have been around for a long time, and we are seeing a lot more premium games utilizing monetization mechanics commonly seen in Free-to-Play.
Not everybody agrees with microtransactions or paid-for content in premium games. However, it’s hard for developers and publishers to ignore the fact that players do spend, even if they have spent almost £60 for the base game. However, if DLC/microtransactions are going to be the main drive for revenue in a premium game, many would presume that the base game should surely be made available at a cheaper cost.
Recently released physics-based vehicle football game Rocket League by Psyonix seems to be setting off on the right foot, with the base game costing only £14.99 on PS4 and PC (or free if you are a Playstation Plus subscriber). At launch, the game featured no monetization mechanics and all vehicle customization options were unlockable by completing in-game achievements. Psyonix has expressed plans to offer both free and paid-for DLC in the form of new maps and cars in the coming weeks, but since the game is being sold at a reasonable price, the incoming paid-for content feels less offensive. Going by the positive reviews, players (including myself) are OK with this.
Rocket League by Psyonix is a vehicle football game that plans to introduce paid-for content
Non-spenders’ gameplay should never be affected
There is certainly a good and a bad way to offer purchasable content in premium games, but can anything be learned from Free-to-Play to make the experience better?
First off, spending should never affect the gameplay experience for players who choose not to spend. Players should always have a complete experience when buying a premium title. Don’t be a douche and chop off integral plot content and sell it back to your players. It’s not cool!
Make a paid option available to boost game progression
Offering boosts in a single player experience doesn’t hurt anybody. Not everybody has 100 hours+ to sink into an epic RPG, some of us have families, or are simply lacking the time to play the ever-growing backlog of games purchased throughout the years. If the option to boost progression is available, some people will spend. If you don’t like it (and I personally don’t), it’s easy, you don’t need to buy it.
Offer vanity items as purchasable content
Want to monetize your multiplayer counterpart without affecting game balance and retention? Then offer vanity items! Without a doubt my favorite F2P games are the ones that simply offer cosmetic upgrades, thus having zero impact on gameplay. Just look at top MOBA League of Legends and action-RPG Path of Exile as prime examples, they make an absolute killing in revenue purely on players looking to differentiate themselves in the game. This doesn’t hurt anybody and gives developers more creative freedom within the game environment without worrying about balancing the game for non-paying / paying players.
Keep player enjoyment top of your priority list
Be it micro-transactions or DLC packs, it’s important to keep your players’ interests and enjoyment at heart, especially if they are spending top dollar on your game. Much like F2P, if players don’t have a pleasant experience when monetizing in your game, they will be less likely to repeat the action. Keep players at the top of your priority list and you’re far more likely to end up with a successful game that everyone enjoys.
If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in reading why non-spenders are they key to unlocking monetization.