For many, microtransactions have become one of the worst aspects of the video game industry. Publishers may promise extra gear or experience, but the only thing the gamers see is yet another way for studios to make money off of their fans. That's not to say microtransactions are going away anytime soon — these days, entire games are built around the concept, and most big-budget releases are accompanied by some sort of optional mini-purchase.
Halo managed to avoid such transactions... until now. Realistically, it was just a matter of time: 343 Industries recently announced that microtransactions would be making their way into Halo 5: Guardians. What's even worse is that they'd be a part of the game's multiplayer.
Since then, the developer has tried its hardest to assure gamers that microtransactions wouldn't upset the shooter's delicate balance. Previously, 343 Industries confirmed that the only cosmetic microtransactions would be available in the highly competitive Arena mode... but what about Warzone, the gigantic vehicle-based gametype? Microtransactions have a bit more of an effect, but 343 Industries is still promising fans that it won't turn Halo 5 into a pay-to-win game.
As part of a Q&A on the official Halo Waypoint site, 343 Industries' Josh Holmes clarified what the game's microtransations would look like, and how they'd be kept in check.
Basically, players are able to purchase and spend "REQ packs," which are traded in during games for more powerful weapons and vehicles. Players can earn these points in-game, and 343 Industries only added the microtransactions as "a matter of convenience."
So, how exactly does one keep a game about buying better gear balanced when people can just automatically equip more powerful weapons for a price?
According to Holmes, players are still restricted by the mode's overall pace: you won't have to worry about players with deep wallets starting a match with a jet.
"Deployment of REQ items is limited by the REQ Level and Energy systems that govern the Warzone experience. Each REQ item costs a certain amount of Energy to deploy.
The higher your REQ Level, the more energy you can store and use to deploy REQs. The more powerful the REQ, the more energy you need to deploy it - so, for example, you can spend two energy points to deploy a Warthog or save up until you reach REQ Level 5 and spend all of your energy to deploy a more powerful Banshee."
Basically, players may have REQ packs saved up, but they won't be able to use them for more powerful items until the game says so. In essence, players are able to buy their upgraded equipment in advance, then use it once the match allows it.
It's an interesting system, though fans will have to wait until launch to see if Halo 5: Guardians can keep itself from falling into the "pay-to-win" category.
Either way, it won't be long before fans find out: Halo 5: Guardians is set to launch on October 27.