Microtransactions, in-game items that are purchased with real money, have proven to be a thorny issue for gamers. Microtransactions on the whole are usually optional and not worth fussing over since you can play without bothering with the majority of them.
However, sometimes they’re just so goofy and ridiculous that you can’t ignore them. Here are the dumbest, silliest and most awful microtransactions in video games.
7. HORSIN’ AROUND
Game: ‘The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’
The original one. The big daddy. The downloadable content (DLC) that launched a million scornful internet comments from mocking gamers all around the world: a suit of armor for your horse. It was pointless and expensive, and there was literally no reason to ever buy it.
But the joke’s on us, it seems. Not only did the DLC serve as the platform on which Bethesda would build its DLC distribution system, but it also sold incredibly well. And how could it not? Look how shiny that suit is!
6. PAYING FOR LIVING IN THE FAST LANE
Game: ‘Dead Space 3’
Dead Space 3 would be one of the most forgettable games of all time if not for its horrid, constant microtransaction temptation. You never have to buy any of the game’s resource boosters, which cost real money and help you upgrade your weapons more quickly, but the game is such a mediocre slog thanks to its grinding that it feels explicitly engineered to encourage you to spend money in order to make progression a more painless affair.
What a bummer that such a great, genuinely scary series—in a time where virtually no one was making legitimately scary games—was reduced to an action game that asked you every half an hour for even more of your money.
Game: ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’
Konami’s had quite a year, huh? They’ve given Hideo Kojima the boot, destroyed the promising Silent Hill sequel that PT served as a prologue to, and shifted development away from consoles toward mobile games, thus thoroughly flushing the respect and goodwill of their fans down the toilet in an almost impressive fashion. Oh, and there’s the insurance thing in Metal Gear Solid V too.
In the latest Metal Gear game you have bases of operation called Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that you use to gather resources, develop technology and house soldiers. Other players can invade your FOBs and steal both your personnel and resources (you can invade other FOBs too, of course). Buying insurance will protect your bases from dastardly infiltrators but that’s it. They’re also ludicrously priced.
Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but the FOBs tie into your single player game and affect the resources and personnel you have. “That soldier you’ve spent the last 30 hours playing? It would sure be a shame to see them get snatched away forever” is essentially the incentive Konami is using here to try and get players to spend more money on the game. It’s a skeevy tactic that fits rather snugly alongside everything else the publisher’s done this year.
4. THAT’S NOT WHAT THAT WORD MEANS
Game: ‘Star Citizen’
Ok, so Star Citizen isn’t even a game that’s out yet, not fully. But they already have a page up where you can buy packages filled with spaceships to pilot for anywhere from $45 to thousands of dollars. Yes, thousands, as in plural.
The biggest one, called “The Completionist”, is $15,000. That’s not a typo. That’s the number 15 with three zeros behind it. The best part? There’s a disclaimer informing you that you don’t actually get everything in that package as there’s one item that’s not included in it. However, buying the Completionist package will unlock the option to buy that item. Madness, absolute madness.
3. MISTER MONOPOLY, CONDUCTOR
Game: ‘Train Simulator 2016’
Like trains? Can’t get enough of zooming down the tracks as the skylines of cities and the peaks of mountains pass by? Groovy, Train Simulator 2016 would probably be your jam. Unless you like trains a lot, like, a lot a lot because if that’s the case, you might end up in the red buying all of the game’s downloadable trains and tracks. Altogether they amount to over five grand.
You have to hand it to Dovetail Games though—they are certainly committed to telling you every single possible detail about these hilariously overpriced virtual trains.
2. LES MISERABLES INDEED
Game: ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’
Assassin’s Creed Unity, beyond having a disastrous launch due to countless technical issues, also had a plethora of microtransactions. These particular microtransactions are used to buy currency that can unlock weapons and outfits and even temporarily boost the protagonist’s stats to make the game easier.
Like Dead Space 3, Unity is a game where progression is so slow that the temptation to buy one of these microtransactions is actually kind of understandable. Not because they’ll make the game fun but instead because they might help give you sweet release from one of the dullest games ever made. It’s one of the crummiest parts of a game that’s crummy from head to glitched-into-the-environment toe and you’re probably just better off deleting the thing from your hard drive and setting the disc on fire as a sign of repentance for buying it in the first place.
1. THE WHOLE DAMN GAME
Game: ‘Dungeon Keeper’ mobile
The latest Dungeon Keeper, a mobile game, is a free-to-play sequel to the classic god game series put out by Bullfrog in the late ‘90s that was met with unanimous critical hatred and negative user reviews when it came out a couple of years ago. It’s a crushing disappointment on a number of levels, as many Bullfrog fans (Hi, hey, yes, me) had yearned for a legitimate sequel to the Dungeon Keeper series for years. This one turned out not to be just a hollow imitation of the first two games, but a blatant cash grab that forced you to put up money just to progress through the game inch by inch.
The greed inherent in the game’s design was so bad that in 2014 the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority banned an advertisement for the game because they found its promise that you could play it for free to be false. To top it all off, after the game’s abject failure, EA’s head of mobile explained that Dungeon Keeper failed because they tried “to innovate too much,” which is an interesting euphemism for highway robbery.
The truly sad thing about all of this is that people would have probably paid a decent amount of money for a mobile version of Dungeon Keeper without all the microtransaction nonsense. What an utter waste of a great franchise.
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