So, the Twittersphere has blown up over the past few days in both praise and despair at the launch of Mortal Kombat X. People have lauded its Story Mode, Variation system and the surfeit of content that kombatants can dig their teeth into. Others have lamented at its dodgy netcode, its preorder walling of a fan favourite character and the pretty disastrous PC launch. However, the biggest grumble from consumers has been over Mortal Kombat X’s inclusion of microtransactions in game. Now usually, I would be on the side of the microtransaction haters as most modern microtransaction implementation in triple A titles is pretty disastrous, but in this case, I’m actually mounting a small defense.
The transactions in question are Easy Fatality tokens and fast ways to unlock everything in the Krypt, MKX’s vault for concept art, extra skins and the odd Koin stash. The Easy Fatalities tokens cost about 50p a pop while the full Krypt unlock costs around £16. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Both Easy Fatalities and the Krypt are completely optional and frivolous parts of Mortal Kombat X. You do not need to go into the Krypt at any point in order to play all the characters and you can buy everything in the Krypt using the game’s ingame currency. Easy Fatalities are just an easier way of performing a Fatality, which in itself is a completely optional action which is only there to celebrate your victory over your opponent in the goriest way imaginable. There is no point in game where you are forced to use an Easy Fatality or enter the Krypt, and your online experience is not hampered by their existence at all.
With this in mind, the reaction of certain big Youtubers like Boogie2988 and even our own esteemed video master, Dom, seem overblown. These transactions have been called barbaric, people have claimed they have absolutely no place in a triple A game and have basically thrown their hands to the sky and claimed that we will all be paying £120 or more to play the next big name game. I have to say that this is honestly, a hysterical and that this particular case is not much to worry about. The Goro paywall is different, that is unacceptable as it is for all intents and purposes, on disc DLC and should be available to everyone as it was developed in tandem with the full game. These completely optional transactions? Not the end of the world.
For one, you have complete control as to whether they will appear again. So many consumer advocates throw up cries about voting with your wallet so do just that. Don’t buy the microtransactions. You are the only one at fault if you plop down 4 quid to buy a easier way to show off. Moreover, it seems that these transactions were simply dropped in from on high by Warner Brothers, rather than being part of NetherRealm’s grand vision for Mortal Kombat X so I doubt there is any real fear that Mortal Kombat 11 will have them in. If you don’t want to see them, don’t buy them. Also, the audience for MKX should know better that to be ripped off by these seemingly vile transactions. This isn’t some mobile game which is meant to rinse kids out of all their pocket money, this is a game that is billed for an older audience, even if Mortal Kombat X is pretty juvenile at times. I imagine most of the audience will see that these tokens are not for them and simply not buy them.
I’ll get the tinfoil hats out.
Now, the argument may be that their very presence is a problem. The fact that a full price game has microtransactions seems to be an affront to some people in its very nature. This is an attitude I simply don’t understand. You still have all the content in Mortal Kombat X (except Goro but remember, that paywall is bad) available to unlock from the get go should you invest your time in the game. These microtransactions are purely ancillary and are there to solely cut your time spent with the game down. Buying everything in the Krypt with cold hard cash bypasses your need to grind out Koins to unlock some concept art, which is another additional feature which does not impact the core fighting. Easy Fatalities, as previously mentioned, are just a lazier way of performing an optional finisher. Most people who will be invested in MKX will be at such a level that they will learn the simple standard Fatality input and just do that. Even then, most players will stop doing Fatalities probably two days after first seeing them, as they simply waste time which could be spent getting into the next match online. The core gameplay of Mortal Kombat X thus stays untouched and open to all, once you have purchased your game.
Moreover, Mortal Kombat X is absolutely bursting with content so why you would want to spend cash to ignore aspects of it is a complete mystery. Again, if you don’t want to see the microtransactions in, don’t buy them. It is completely unlike Evolve, which is the comparison everyone seems to be reaching for when decrying Mortal Kombat X’s microtransactions, where the game’s marketing pretty much revolved around the hundreds of different skins, weapons and Hunters you could buy on Day One should you choose. Ultimately, it will be player laziness that will determine whether these easy unlock transactions will become a staple. The ball is firmly in your court so if you don’t want them in, make sure you keep your wallet welded shut.
How about the issue of the Kombat Pack then? Well, I think this is a more nuanced issue. The new characters featured in the Kombat Pack are being developed post launch, will be fully formed with three Variations and some skins and are again, completely optional for players who are comfortable with the current roster. This is complicated by the fact that Tanya, one of the characters in the Pack, is technically in Mortal Kombat X already as an NPC fighter but she only has one form and lacks the three Variations that standard playable fighters have. I do agree that the £25 price point is steep for 4 characters, but the fact that you can essentially try each fighter before you buy, through the special Premium Towers, gives customers the ability to really see if they want to buy all 4. This system is more like League of Legends, where a new champion will appear in the free rotation a short while after launch so you can at least give your potential purchase a test run before you spend any money. I feel this is much better than previous Season Pass systems, as you actually get the ability to test out Jason or see if Predator is actually fun to fight with before you have to put your money down. Plus, it feels like an actual substantial piece of content that feels like it has been properly worked on, rather than just dropped in to see if anyone is a big enough sucker to buy Easy Fatality tokens, which can also be unlocked in game via the Krypt so the whole try before you buy is technically still in place.
Microtransactions are still a thorny issue and will be used improperly as long as consumers cough up the cash. In this case, I think the whole hoo hah has been quite a storm in a teacup. The tokens are completely optional and only really there for the lazy, you are actively depriving yourself of content if you pay for Krypt unlocks and nothing about the main game is ruined by their presence. Simply ignore their existence and they will disappear. The doomsaying from some over a very minor inclusion seems incredibly counterproductive, when issues like the Goro preorder wall and the pretty awful PC launch have gone without the same backlash.
So, what do you think? Am I talking utter nonsense and do you agree with Dom on the matter? Check out his video and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.