Why Total Rendition will have no micro-transactions

The Economist reported recently how Tencent became big, in part through micro-transactions. Indeed, micro-transactions are now seemingly ubiquitous, appearing in titles such as Fortnite, even in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

So, is Total Rendition is going to have micro-transactions? No. Not now. Not later. Not ever. If Total Rendition is ever going to feature micro-transactions, which I certainly hope it will not, you can no longer speak of the same project that Total Rendition currently is. I would certainly have no part in it, unless I have somehow sustained a major brain injury or am somehow turfed out of my own project like Black Isle Studios was forced to relinquish Fallout to Todd Howard, Inc.

Micro-transactions are a cynical way to monetise games. The realities of Capitalism mean building Total Rendition will cost a lot of money, as resources are allocated based on the amount of money you are able and willing to pay, rather than the merits of the undertaking itself. This has led me (or rather should I say forced me) to take a tour across Bullshitstorm wonderland where you try to convince venture capitalists that MAYBE they will end up incredibly wealthy if they back Total Rendition. Since Total Rendition is not really a big thing yet, this hasn't yet materialised. Hopefully I will not need them. (GOOD LUCK WITH THAT) 

However, back to micro-transactions. First, even from a capitalist perspective, you don't really need them. If you make quality games and market them well (damn you capitalism!) you can still make a reasonable "return on investment". This is not limited to Indies like Total Rendition and every other game you see on Itch.io: Even CD Projekt RED lives by that. Although we be careful not to idolise CD Projekt RED, despite the awesomeness of their games, considering their exploitative labour practices. However, micro-transactions are arguably terrible from a game design perspective as well. This is probably the most important objection. Micro-transactions take away player skill from the game and discovery of the game-world. Micro-transactions are literally doping if those are performance enhancing... eh... drugs. It's literally like introducing a doping mechanic in a licenced game based on the Tour de France. However, in more narrative-driven experiences, micro-transactions are probably even worse, breaking the flow of narrative in the game. Which perhaps may explain why some of the most commercially successful games using micro-transactions - save certain exceptions - are so devoid of narrative, Fortnite being an example of a very psychopathic repeat offender when it comes to that. 

We should note that even where micro-transactions do not break the narrative flow, these still manage to undermine the power of the narrative. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided simply rings hollow with the presence micro-transactions, although it is rumoured - perhaps with good cause - that Square Enix is to blame for that.

Hopefully, Total Rendition will convince Epic Games that you do NOT need micro-transactions to make great games!

-Mordechai Gabai

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