If you've been following the news surrounding Hideo Kojima's forthcoming installment in the Metal Gear Solid series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it's been a pretty bumpy ride. First, there was the controversy surrounding director and creator Hideo Kojima's sudden exit from Konami before the game ever found its way to store shelves. Puzzling stuff, to be sure. But that's not all. Now, it's been announced that the upcoming title will be including microtransactions, and as you can imagine, a great majority of fans aren't exactly pleased about the idea.
When the prospect of introducing microtransactions to a long-running series such as Metal Gear cropped up, gamers weren't so keen on seeing the plan come to fruition. After all, who wants to purchase a product that doesn't feel "complete" in every way? Spending the flat $60 and what fans suspected would be nickel and dime offerings here and there would amount to a very unfair "pay-to-win" situation, though in reality it appears this couldn't be further from the truth.
Konami has since come forward to clear the air regarding these microtransactions, reassuring players that every item up for sale will be attainable in-game by traditional means, and thus not required to be purchased: "Rest assured that every single item, weapon, and mission in the game is available to all players without paying a single cent," a video presentation explains. Instead, the video adds, the implementation of these in-game purchases was conceived as a way to aid players who can't invest as much time as others, but still wanted to see all the title had to offer.
"Rest assured that every single item, weapon, and mission in the game is available to all players without paying a single cent."
It's a noble stance, and while of course I can't speak on the validity of their intentions (everyone wants to make more money when they can find a way), it makes sense given how little time some players actually have to sit down and enjoy their favorite games. If you could pay to unlock a special weapon that would otherwise take X amount of hours to see in-game, wouldn't you do it for a reasonable price, assuming you simply didn't have time to do it the "right" way?
Some of us are traditionalists and we can't handle going against the grain by paying for access or bypassing the levels or experience required to see a certain item. Perhaps we're set in our ways. But we also have long work hours, careers, families, and things that often take us away from sprawling games such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Paying a few bucks to mess about with a feature that might require time, patience, or skill that we just don't have seems feasible, and if the disposable income is there, it's not problematic, nor should it be.
What's problematic is the way consumers view these transactions, members of the press and everyday game enthusiasts alike. The word "microtransaction" itself is an utterance of sheer evil, one that conjures images of Candy Crush Saga addiction, but that perception is a liquid one and it's changing.
Because right now, freemium games are a dime a dozen. The business model is a lucrative one: allow players basic functions and normal gameplay for free, but place additional content and extras behind a paywall. It gives developers a chance at exposure beyond that of paying customers, while still acting as a viable source of revenue for when and if app users decide the software is worthy of their time and attention. In games where freemium status makes sense, you can expect to enjoy a complete game with minimal interruptions or little need for additional resources beyond what comes standard.
There are games that abuse this power, however, offering what feels more like a glorified trial of the game at hand or a stilted, sloppy offering that nickel and dimes customers with no goal in mind other than capitalizing on addiction. But the placement of such within Metal Gear seem legitimately focused on improving the player experience and ensuring everyone, no matter their level of income or involvement with the game, has their own special way of achieving what they want to. In the end, the purchases are optional, in no way integral to the game, and only present as a way, according to Konami, to supplement the title.
So if you were concerned up until this point, rest easy knowing that your favorite franchise hasn't been "ruined," and instead it's simply getting with the times in a future that's all but inevitable at this point. There's no sense in getting riled about it. Embrace it with open arms. You might find, crazily enough, that you like it.