Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Pay-to-Win Microtransactions

There are few features of modern gaming more reviled by gamers than microtransactions. But as they have become more common place, a large part of the gaming community has softened their stance to accept cosmetic purchases that don’t affect the overall balance of the game. In fact, this method (as seen with Blizzard’s Overwatch) is used to help fund the continued development of the game with the release of new heroes and maps that are periodically released without any additional charge.

Still, the most despised form of microtransactions remains “pay-to-win” transactions. These are purchases that players can make that give them a statistical advantage over other players. Some games try to hand-wave criticism away by having the content theoretically unlockable for all players, but the caveat being it requires an obscene amount of game time.

Infinity Ward’s upcoming entry into the Call of Duty franchise will be including this form of microtransaction. The FPS will feature a supply drop and crafting system where players can unlock new variants of their weapons to improve their guns over time. However, unlike previous CoD titles, the different variants offer no differentiation in play style, but simply better statistical qualities. For example, players won’t sacrifice damage for accuracy or fire rate, they will simply have a better weapon than other players who have not unlocked that particular variant.

This in of itself isn’t a terrible thing as many Call of Duty games required you to unlock different attachments and weapons that were objectively better. The difference here is that this unlocking and crafting system, which will feature an in-game currency called “salvage” (which is given in small amounts at the end of each match), can be sped up by paying real money to acquire supply drops that will directly provide the player with these improved variants.

How much of an advantage will this give paying players? Well, NeoGaf user “Hamster Plugin” did the math for us:

The problem here is that you need to collect a currency called “Salvage” to craft. From my beta playtime I got around 7-10 salvage per game. To craft the best (Epic) version of a gun, you need 5840 salvage (200, then 540, then 1600, then 3500). Assuming you get 10 salvage every game (and that’s probably not happening), you need to play 584 games. A COD match takes anywhere between 7-15 minutes to complete – assuming 10 minutes per game, that’s 97 hours to complete one gun.

Whether the rate at which salvage is collected will be improved for the official release of the game remains to be seen. But, given the criticism that Gears of War 4 has garnered for its unlock system, Activision and Infinity Ward should expect similar backlash if the system remains unchanged from the beta.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will be officially released November 4, 2016 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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