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Unpopular Opinion : PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Isn’t Wrong In Introducing Microtransactions

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PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a Hunger Games-esque survival shooter where players battle it out till the very end for being the only person left out of the group that enter the island. Recently, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS developer Bluehole announced that they will be heading for Gamescom with a big Invitational tournament, along with a few announcements, the most popular one of which was the first person mode, and the most unpopular one was the announcement of special Gamescom crates that will need a key for opening, which costs $2.49 to buy.

Microtransactions are a popular part of the most games nowadays (especially the so-called notorious “free to play” games). In a competitive environment, game developers have to make as much money as possible in as little time as possible. Many people blame “microtransactions” as a wrong modus operandi of making money and getting the attention of the buyers. Fans and buyers, like fame, are fleeting. The same buyers might think about never buying another game of a company next week, and change their opinion a month later.Variability means companies have to ensure they stay financially strong while pleasing the crowd. Ironically, it is the same crowd who would ditch the ship of the so-called “good games” without the slightest warning, and head straight wherever the hype of a publisher leads them. It’s all eye-candy and hype that make a game popular nowadays – and the crowd who are misled end up making excuses for their decisions. It is the attitude of consumers which makes imagination and creativity in business a hoax for the modern world. “This game has such good enemy AI that it makes you think twice before making a move in a singleplayer game!” and “Oh my god, the enemy AI is so tough to overcome! I’m done with this game” is a classical example of what’s wrong with the crowd, and which leads to companies taking wrong decisions, sometimes as bad as making microtransactions a fundamental part of the game fabric. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is a victim of unnecessary name-calling because of the same wrong reasons – the crowd criticizing it is sadly deficient in the knowledge about the effects of the microtransactions introduced on the game and the possible changes in its playability.

In PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, an additional crate has been introduced, which drops cosmetic items on being opened. Two new free crates have also been introduced, which can be opened for in-game currency to obtain cosmetics.

This has resulted in public outrage. A few Reddit posts in the PUBG subreddit include :

The official announcement for the update :

Cosmetic items only change the appearance of the character, and does nothing more (you can still play without purchasing any cosmetic crates at all, whether for in-game currency, or for real money). Many games, like Counter Strike : Global Offensive, Overwatch and Defence of the Ancients 2 employ a similar economy, where you can buy cosmetics, or leave them, but it will not affect your performance in game. This isn’t like games like Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Gwent or League of Legends, where microtransactions are necessary to get ahead in the game.  The outrage is unjustified,  especially because people who actually buy such cosmetics get no real advantage over people who did not (suggesting that “it’s a psychological thing” isn’t going to help, it’s your fault you suck at the game and blame it on cosmetics).

The more intelligent portion of the critics (who didn’t believe unnecessary Internet gossip, but took their own time to do their own research) have alleged that Bluehole have lied about not introducing microtransactions in the game till the Early Access period. This criticism is the only one considered valid, amongst the huge ruckus created by people against the game.But then again, it has become standard practice for companies to feed people with unneeded hype and then go back on their words later. Early Access games themselves haven’t been free from controversy, with companies releasing paid downloadable content for games during Early Access itself (Recall the case of Studio Wildcard, who released the desert biomes in a map for their game ARK:Survival Evolved as a separate, paid DLC). It is the same bad conditions prevailing in the market, where consumers aren’t aware of the products they are using, and the producers aren’t aware of the proper needs of the consumers.

The fiasco about the Gamescom crates should be purged at the earliest. It only allows the developers to divert the players from the true problems plaguing the game, which range from landing bugs, bad hitboxes, lag compensation, and texture optimization. Which is what they would want, of course, thus allowing themselves more time to fix these vital issues (which should have been their prior concern).

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