All EA games released in the future will involve microtransactions in some capacity, according to the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Blake Jorgensen. Speaking at the Morgan Stanlet Technology, Media and Telecom conference, the executive said that ‘the next and much bigger piece [of EA’s business plan] is microtransactions within games”, adding that “We’re building into all our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level, to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it may be, and customers are enjoying and embracing that way of business”.
The microtransaction model has been employed in many mobile games, where it allows players to unlock extra content or avoid restrictions that may be included in the game’s free version by paying small amounts of money for each unlockable option.
The move may meet much controversy from gamers, many of whom feel that the idea of microtransactions tips the playing field of online gaming in favour of those with the ability to continuously pay for extra content, and strips lower-income players of much of the game’s sense of achievement. There are also concerns that by withholding content to be released later as downloadable content, publishers are selling players an incomplete game at launch.
A recent Harris Poll survey has revealed that up to 60% of adults in the USA believe violent video game content contributes to violent behaviour. The poll surveyed 2,278 American adults and found that 58% believed virtual violence to correspond to real-world actions.
The issue is quite visible in the public eye at the moment in the wake of the furore over America’s lax gun laws which followed the fatal shooting of 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut last December. President Barack Obama has promised to investigate whether video games have any bearing on violent behaviour after National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre invoked the names of several violent series when attempting to divert negative attention away from America’s gun culture.
However, in the same poll 38% of adults did not know that the ESRB, which rates all commercial video games for their appropriate age group, existed, and only 32% of those who knew of its existence believe that it is effective in keeping violent video games from those too young to play them.
Recent research by the Federal Trade Commission found that the games industry has one of the most effective systems of self-regulation of any entertainment media, while studies by the Australian government seem to suggest that playing games with violent content has negligible effects on child behaviour.