While player frustration may be fueling the recent debate surrounding microtransactions, loot boxes and Star Wars: Battlefront II, the real issue at hand is the sometimes insidious use of mechanisms that seem designed to not just hook a player, but addict them
But even that conversation seems to be getting lost in the weeds over a distracting discussion about the legal definition of gambling. But it's the byproduct of betting on a game of chance, even if you have no possibility of cashing out, that should be front and center. Addition, fueled by deliberate game design, is a growing problem in the game industry.
Want evidence of that? Look no further than the story that recently ran on Kotaku in which a 19-year-old describes how over the years he spent more than $10,000 on microtransactions in games like Smite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Most notably, his habit started when he was 13.
In reporting out the story, Kotaku looked over three years of bank transactions that showed he often spent up to 90 percent of his paycheck, once old enough to work, on those tiny purchases.
He didn't stop until he saw a therapist for treatment. Last week, the player posted an open letter to EA, once that countless other players could easily write themselves. Today, Kotaku verified the story.
While Electronic Arts has been receiving a brunt of the ire of players this month, many if not most modern online games include some version of microtransaction including titles like the latest Call of Duty, Middle-earth and Nintendo's smartphone hit Super Mario Run.