One of the hot topics in the gaming industry at the moment is – whisper it – microtransactions. Though big game publishers such as EA and Take Two have said they’re likely to be an important part of future selling models, fans have been somewhat resistant to the idea – most notably during the recent Star Wars Battlefront 2 backlash.
It’s not every leading industry figure, however, that sees microtransactions as the best option across the board. In a recent interview with MCV Square Enix CEO, Yosuke Matsuda, made it clear that his company is unlikely to push microtransactions in its console releases.
The main reason for this, Matsuda says, is that this kind of selling model doesn’t always work with console games: “The way that console games are made, the volume of content and how much effort goes into them, there’s something in that which doesn’t fit in the mind with microtransactions.”
Though microtransactions are widely accepted as being a part of free-to-play mobile games, Matsuda acknowledges that this acceptance may not extend to a $50/£50 console game and says that “what people expect and want in a home console game is perhaps quite different from what people want in a mobile game and it’s looked at in a different way.“
This isn’t to say Square Enix is completely averse to releasing more service-based games – earlier this year Matsuda said in a message to the company’s shareholders that the games-as-service model would be embraced.
“Gone are the days,” he explained, “in which single-player games were of primary status and multiplayer games secondary. Lately, multiplayer games have taken the lead, and it is standard for games to be designed for long-term play.”
It’ll likely be the case, then, that Square Enix will continue with the DLC model that’s being used in Final Fantasy 15: “Our feelings on it is people have bought those games and we want them to be able to enjoy them and play them as long as possible. So after they’ve completed the game, to add extra things and give them new things to enjoy. That’s an important thing and very vital for us to provide that.”
Square Enix won’t completely eschew microtransactions, though – they can already be found in Final Fantasy 14. This is likely a result of the game being a massive multiplayer online role-playing game that’s also available on PC.
According to Matsuda, PC titles are closer to mobile titles in the sense that there is more of a leaning towards free-to-play always online titles in that market: “Certainly with mobile games they are all the online model, maybe looking at them as being closer to PC online games than console games in that sense. In the PC market there are percentage-wise a lot more free-to-play games, PC gamers are much more used to those than console gamers are, so I think in that sense mobile games are much closer to PC games in that sense.”
The fact that Square Enix is willing to pursue two completely different models within the same franchise is a good sign that Matsuda’s understanding that not all games will work with microtransactions is being actively applied. It does, however, look like the company’s days of creating one-and-done single-player titles are coming to an end.