Microtransactions are common amongst free-to-play games as a way for developers to earn money from a product that doesn’t have an initial fee. However, in recent times they have started to become more and more prevalent in fully-fledged titles that are available at retail. So not only are some developers asking you to pay around $60 to play their game but they also want to encourage you to part with more money for bonuses. While the practice is still relatively rare it is becoming more frequent and 343 Industries is the latest studio to jump on the bandwagon with Halo 5: Guardians.
Speaking on a new post on the Halo Waypoint site, Halo 5 development lead Josh Holmes has explained that players will be able to spend real-world money on unlocking REQ packs. These packs are part of the new Requisition System that has been introduced in Halo 5. REQ points are earned during matches and by completing commendations and can then be used to unlock extra content. This content is split into two distinct categories; the first is purely cosmetic changes such as armors, skins and assassination animations, but the second allows players to unlock additional weapons and vehicles for use within multiplayer.
It is this second category that has sparked concern from players and fans as it seems to suggest that anyone playing Halo 5 will be able to effectively pay-to-win. Holmes moved to reassure fans of the series that this isn’t the case. “While players will earn REQ Packs across both Arena and Warzone, only cosmetic items can be used in our Arena experience,” said Holmes in the blog post. “This is to ensure that all players start with the same weapons and abilities as part of our vision for the balanced, competitive play in Arena multiplayer.”
“In Warzone, our new massive-scale multiplayer experience, we wanted to give fans even more variety and choice in how they play. Within Warzone, you’ll have the ability to deploy a multitude of weapons and vehicles from your inventory of REQs throughout a match. These requisitions are governed and balanced by Warzone’s in-match REQ Level and Energy systems, which are driven by player and team performance within the mode.”
“The REQ System is designed to generously reward players with a steady stream of content to keep gameplay fresh. We’ll be continuing to release new REQ content, post launch, so there are always new toys to play with. All REQ content in the game can earned through the regular course of play in multiplayer. We’ll also give players the option to purchase REQ Packs as a matter of convenience, with a portion of the proceeds going toward prize pools for the Halo Championship Series.”
This explanation still leaves some important questions unanswered though. It is clear that the microtransactions won’t have a significant effect on gameplay in the standard Arena PvP mode, with only cosmetic changes bought with the REQ system allowed to be used. Details about how REQ packs can be used in Warzone are still unclear, with the information suggesting that players who buy the REQ packs may be able to access more powerful weapons and vehicles faster than those who don’t.
Hopefully 343 Industries will shed some more light on the system in the near future as the vast majority of players will likely be against the inclusion of microtransactions in any form.