EA Adding Microtransactions to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
In a move that will surprise absolutely no one that has played an EA game in the last few years, they’re adding microtransactions to one of their games. This time, it’s Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare that will see the addition of microtransactions to the game this week.
If you’ve played Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer (that’s the closest point of reference that I have), the setup of PVZ:GW’s unlock system will be very familiar. You earn in-game coins by playing online matches. These coins can be spent in the game’s store to unlock new character variants, upgrades, stickers and probably more that I don’t know about.
The trick is that you can’t actually select what you’re buying. You spend your coins to buy various packs and the RNG (random number generator) gods determine what is actually in those packs. You could be spending your coins on what you want but often will end up with upgrades you weren’t exactly hoping to unlock.
With the addition of microtransactions, you will be able to spend real money to buy coins to spend in the in-game store. So you won’t be able to buy the various bits and bobs you want but at least you can appease the RNG gods more quickly without having to plays games to earn coins to spend.
Back when the game was first released, GameSpot editor Carolyn Petit suggested that the in-game economy was designed in such a way as to make the integration of microtransactions a welcome addition. To that point, Kotaku’s Mike Fahey praised the inclusion of microtransactions since he could pay to unlock characters which he found frustratingly slow without microtransactions. You couldn’t be more transparently sucking up to the publisher if you said that you were up front.
I think that it says something about where EA’s priorities are when it charges $30 for a game (or $40 for the Xbox One version of the game) and has the economy designed in such a way that microtransactions are a necessity for progression rather than a means to expedite progression. I don’t like being forced into microtransactions in a free game (I’d much rather buy the game and not worry about having to deal with a broken economy) and I think that microtransactions that you have to buy up front is deplorable. Not that we expect much less from EA…
So while Microsoft’s Xbox division seems to be interested in some serious image rehab under new boss Phil Spencer, EA seems content to wear the black hat and continue to play the villain. I have no problem with a company trying to make money. The goal of a business is to make money, after all. It’s just that EA tends to do it in such a way that they seem like they seldom try to make a product worth the money paid for it and would rather you just donate money to their bank account.