8 Embarrassing Microtransactions That Were Just Terrible



The Saboteur was a rather middling affair that you probably don’t remember very well. For those who can, there were two big takeaways that stuck in the mind: one, the protagonist was a facepalmingly stereotypical Irishman; two, the jarring “flash for cash” bar-scene with a scandalous microtransaction.

In a smoky part of the game’s small French town setting, players find themselves hauled up in a bar full of young lovelies, who are donning some very naughty lace. But these woman of questionable morals are actually good girls — covered up (fairly) appropriately. Boo! Want to see more? No problem, the publisher only asks for a few dollars to see their nipples. Yes, real currency for digital boobies.

An utterly disgraceful microtransaction that should never feature in any video game.




Both Battlefield 3 and 4 offered an atrocious microtransaction that totally spoiled both game’s multiplayer offering. For $40 on top of the game’s base price, players could unlock all bonus maps and content immediately, including special weapons.

It was among the first examples of what has become a frustrating mainstay of many multiplayer games: pay to win. In Battlefield, those who fork out wads of cash get a huge advantage over players who graft through the game honestly. Indeed, access to the same arsenal of weaponry made available in the Ultimate Shortcut Pack would take the equivalent of hundreds of hours of actual gameplay, and you still wouldn’t have the anywhere near the same level of equipment. Nice and fair, then.



A good survival horror game has players constantly questioning whether to use precious resources and supplies, nervously measuring up the risk/reward of every dangerous situation. It’s what builds the tension that makes this genre of game tick, and Dead Space was a franchise that was utterly brilliant at it. But EA’s introduction of microtransactions pertaining to the game’s crafting mechanics completely destroyed that delicate balance.

Clearly, by its third iteration, EA was determined to squeeze a little more cash from the Dead Space franchise, by adding a microtransaction to purchase key ingredients for crafting, the resource management of the game’s survival horror was thrown out the window. Now players had the equivalent of Amazon Prime delivery in their inventory, and whatever they needed could be spawned by the click of a purchase button. The silly thing was, all of the crafting resources were easily obtainable by playing through the game properly.



fifa 18

FIFA Ultimate Team, commonly called FUT, is a mode that lets players create their own team to play against each other in a sort of fantasy league. You start in the game’s lowest divisions, pitted against other players of the same rank, working your way up. Along the way, you’ll be able to purchase the league’s best talent and add them to your ranks. It all sounds great in practice, but the problem is that everyone wants more or less the same players. EA decided that was a bit of an issue, so they fabricated an obstacle to supposedly create more team diversity. You guessed it: microtransactions.

In FUT, players purchase decks of cards that randomly allocates a draft of potential players. The trouble is, the price point of the in-game currency to unlock these decks is absurdly high. The only realistic way to have a chance of drafting a Messi or Ronaldo is to pay for it. Here’s the kicker, though: the players are effectively on loan, with contracts that expire. If one wants to hold on to their star players, one will need to repurchase the cards. Expect to pay through the nose if you want to enjoy the best of this poorly designed FIFA mode.



The free to play formula is nothing new, and complaining about microtransactions in a game that literally makes its only profit from in-game purchases might seem reductive, but there’s only so much one can take. Heroes and Generals employs a host of paywalls that you’d expect to see, though one in particular really grinds our gears.

Giving players the freedom to customize their avatars shouldn’t ever be something that involves additional costs. Unfortunately, every game under the sun seems to be charging for new skins and aesthetic options. But paying to name your character? That’s crossing the line, surely. In Heroes and Generals, when one recruits a new soldier, the grunt is randomly allocated a name. Keen to rename Private Jones to Private Gomer Pyle? That’ll cost you, I’m afraid.



We’ve all been there: the salesman that follows you around the market after you eyed his wares for about 3 seconds. There really is nothing more irritating, but BioWare and EA decided it would be a good idea to combine that with the most irritating feature of modern video gaming. Apparently, in some sort of bid to push in-game purchases, there is a hugely annoying salesman that follows players around their camp touting DLC.

If you’re on board with the game then it’s fair to say you’re likely going to purchase the DLC. Nobody has any problem with more content for an enjoyable game, but actually building an NPC as a walking talking advertisement board is a step too far. Could the developer have found any more effective way of destroying immersion?




Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V’s Forward Operating Base meta game cleverly bridges single and multiplayer modes. Sadly, it’s somewhat spoiled by a silly microtransaction that breaks the entire design of the game.

Konami offers a base insurance policy where players can use in-game currency to insure their FOBs. If one fails to fend off an infiltration, the resources stolen are covered by the insurance and the player effectively loses nothing. That’s right, you’re paying real money to insure digital property of no actual value.

The problem is that this harks back to the “pay to win” irritation that blights so many multiplayer games. The whole point of FOBs infiltration system is to create real consequences for failing to fight off an infiltration. The system is broken if players can buy their way out of those consequences. There is little incentive to actually bother fending off an invasion. Imagine an exchange between two players that both have insurance, each could rob the other, enjoy the benefits and be compensated for any losses. What a pointless exercise.



Online Game passes are microtransactions that has thankfully been largely eradicated, but when they were a thing, they were a terrible thing that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Uncharted 3, for example, forced second-hand purchasers of the game to spend an extra $10 to play the game’s multiplayer mode. Fast forward a few years and Uncharted 4 has no such feature. So what was the point, then? The publisher would have had us believe it was recouping costs for additional server costs. But considering the previous user was no longer using the server, and the new user represented no additional total number, this really felt meaningless. Quite apart from how irritating that was in principle, it also even affected those who hadn’t even purchased that particular game.

By adding an additional cost to play online, the entire value of second-hand games suddenly went down. Those purchasing a game second hand obviously weren’t going to want to pay $20 for a used game anymore if they know there’s an additional $10 once they get home to unlock half the content. It stands as a good example of how bad practices like microtransactions can work their way into the fabric of the entire industry eco-system, and can only mean bad news for everyone involved.