Opinion: Here’s Why The Narrative About Microtransactions Helping Compensate For Expensive Games Fails

In this day and age where publishers and developers are proud to announce loot-boxes and microtransactions in their paid games, there’s a wave of people supporting this move. One popular argument defending loot-boxes and microtransactions is “Modern video games are more expensive than ever, so devs need them.” Here’s why that argument fails.

For example, in the case of Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA and DICE claim that it’s too expensive making video games in this day-and-age, thus prompting free DLC to be backed by loot-boxes and microtransactions has a lot of people agreeing with that assessment.

The problem with that argument is that it’s actually cheaper to make both paid and free games as of today’s standards compared to the 1980’s and 1990’s.

You say you don’t believe me? Fine, don’t take it from me, take it from the man himself who created the term “Deathmatch,” pioneered the basic formula of FPS games, and went on to make proper arena shooters, John Romero.

Yes, Romero has stated multiple times that it’s not only easier to make video games today, but it’s far less expensive than back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Here’s an interview that Centre for Computing History posted up back on January 11th, 2016.

So if it’s easier for someone, especially a lone-developer, to make a game now with less technical learning curves, then what is going on in the triple-A scene where companies can pump-out games yearly that use the same engine, much like NBA2K 18? I’ll tell you, mismanagement and greed.

Let’s get back to Star Wars Battlefront 2. The game in question had a previous title made before it that uses many of the same assets, with a few new assets made here and there in the second iteration.

And while new assets cost money, SWBF2 had SWBF1 as a platform to shave-off a lot of development time and resources. Yet there’s an argument being made to defend the game, saying that it needs loot-boxes and microtransactions to cover the cost of development for a popular franchise based on Star Wars.

The bottom line here is that, like what Romero has said, video games can be made for less and turn in a profit if you know what you are doing in compared to the early days.

This is further backed up by the tech museum known as Centre for Computing History who replied to a certain user (on the above video) who happened to be curious about Corona, and if Unity is any better:

“Personally, I’d say yes. Unity is a fantastic game dev platform – we run Unity workshops here at the museum and am always impressed with what people can achieve using it in so little time. I would GUESS (as I don’t know Corona well) that Corona might be easier to start with than Unity. Unity is widely used in professional game development.”

So if game engines are becoming so easy to use that video game museum institutions are impressed with the work and little time that people have with these ever changing engines, then it goes to show that the “modern games are more expensive” retort to the implementation of monetary options is a big lie.


Ethan was born in glitches, and pursues to find the most game breaking glitches in games. If you need to get in touch use the Contact Page.

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