The Sickening Truth Behind Cosmetic Gaming Microtransactions

4. Remember When Cosmetic Content Was "Free"?

Fall Guys

Above all else, the main reason that microtransactions will forever piss players off is that cosmetic rewards have been a part of gaming as long as gaming has existed.

Except, for decades, these rewards were unlocked when you bought the game with your hard-earned cash, not when you stumped up extra incremental fees.

Unlockable costumes, skins, weapons, and so on have always been part of gaming's reward system, and cosmetic MTX are simply an infuriatingly successful way to monetise the dopamine rush of playing with the new hotness.

Games are increasingly being carved up and sold back to us at a snide premium. Remember when you could unlock Metal Gear Solid's tuxedo suit simply by completing the game? Well, Metal Gear Solid V decided to charge a buck for the "pleasure."

And that's a comparatively innocuous example next to the myriad games which charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars to access every last cosmetic item, or by making the in-game grind so absurdly time-consuming as to heavily incentivise those purchases.

While it's often said that a video game is a generally cheaper per-hour medium than, say, a night at the movies, and game prices have stayed relatively low relative to global inflation over the decades, a reasonable, periodic price hike would surely be preferable to this constant nickel-and-diming nonsense.

The truth, of course, is that cosmetic MTX are so insanely lucrative that publishers could never raise a game's price high enough for that proposition to make sense, sadly.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.