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PCGamingWiki launches new project to warn about microtransactions in every PC game


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We are proud to announce that PCGamingWiki is launching a new microtransactions section in all of our PC game articles. 
Many PC gamers don't have a clue about what they are getting into before they install the latest 'free-to-play' game, 'game as a service' multiplayer shooter or new 'live service' singleplayer game. These games could contain manipulative loot boxes, hopelessly unfair grinds or game imbalancing pay-to-win unlocks. 
At PCGamingWiki, we want to provide absolutely clear information as to how each game is monetized and what microtransaction techniques are being employed. We want people to know whether the game includes solid DLC or expansion packs that deliver solid content post-release, or whether their game features real money gambling mechanics, or keeps their best content behind paywalls or premium subscriptions.


Microtransaction categories and definitions

Central to our project is the definition of each microtransaction category. We have got in contact with the creators of Microtransaction.Zone (a fantastic website which has sadly not updated since 2018) and they have kindly given some advice to adapt their microtransaction tags to our new categories on PCGamingWiki. 
These new Microtransaction categories are:
  • Loot box - A variation of microtransaction where the player purchases a loot box where there is a chance to receive varying qualities of in-game item, similar to gambling.
  • Cosmetic - Cosmetic microtransactions are any paid additional content that are designed to be cosmetic and does not substantially affect gameplay, such as skins, hats, decorative items etc.
  • Unlock - Purchase of microtransaction content that affects gameplay and is not solely cosmetic. 'Unlocks' are normally chunks of a game that have been already developed and have been 'locked', and can be 'unlocked' with a purchase. This commonly includes individual characters, maps, levels, weapons, armors, etc.
  • Boost - Allows player to pay to accelerate progress in a game, whether it is faster speed, levelling, level skipping, boosting % chance to find rare items, etc.
  • Currency - Being able to purchase in-game currency whether it's gold, gems, tokens, crafting materials, credits, V-Bucks, etc. which in turn are used to buy other microtransactions, or can be traded for account credit.
  • Infinite cap - Game has microtransactions that can be purchased over and over again without any limit. This is in contrast to finite cap games that have a limit.
  • Pay-to-skip - The game's 'main' rewards can be achieved or grinded for without payment, but payment unlocks those rewards faster or instantaneously.
This list is a first draft and we welcome feedback on definitions on how these will be implemented.
We have also added the following Monetization categories:
New categories will appear in the Infobox
Microtransaction/monetization categorisation is part of the Taxonomy project. Editors can simply add the tags by adding this code to the {{Infobox_game}} template at the top of the game article using this code:
|taxonomy     =
{{Infobox game/row/taxonomy/monetization      | ad-supported, dlc, expansion pack, freeware, free-to-play, player trading, subscription | ref= }}
{{Infobox game/row/taxonomy/microtransactions | boost, cosmetic, currency, finite cap, infinite cap, loot box, pay-to-skip, unlock | ref= }}

You can find up to date code and definitions on the Taxonomy project page, with detailed instructions on how to implement the new categories.

You might notice that at the moment these categories barely contain any games. We need new editors and help from the PC gaming community to help us to sort and categorise each game article. You don't need an account to edit, but if you create an account and login, you can browse and edit our website without any ads.


Microtransaction section
We have also added a new text area under the Availability to precisely list and explain how each microtransaction affects the game. This valuable area will explain exactly how each game uses microtransactions and provides an opportunity to warn players of any particularly problematic microtransactions.
    Example of new Microtransactions header in game Apex Legends
    See these examples which represent a first draft:

    A new set of instructions is listed in the Editing_guide/Microtransactions, which contains a detailed guide. Each bullet point should match the Infobox category. The code for this area and also reproduced here:

    *'''[[Currency (microtransaction)|Currency]]''': Begin with this row to explain how real money is directly exchange for in-game currency, and also how it is earned in-game. Try not to mention other currencies unless necessary.
    *'''[[Loot box (microtransaction)|Loot box]]''': What drops from the loot box
    *'''[[Cosmetic (microtransaction)]Cosmetic]''':
    *'''[[Unlock (microtransaction)|Unlock]]''':
    *'''[[Boost (microtransaction)|Boost]]''':
    *'''[[Pay-to-skip (microtransaction)|Pay-to-skip]]''': Emphaisize that despite Boosts existing, all important content can be acquired through grinding on the base subscription/free tier.
    *'''[[Infinite cap (microtransaction)|Infinite cap]]''' / *'''[[Finite cap (microtransaction)|Finite cap]]''':


    We need editors
    Our project is quite ambitious and we are making new changes that needs more manpower, and we are looking for new editors to help categorise all these microtransactions and help our fellow PC gamers. Furthermore, this is a brand new section and we are really looking for feedback on the categories, names, definitions, suggesting new categories, layout and more!

    If you have a suggestion please leave a comment on this post, or hop onto our Discord onto the #projects channel for more immediate feedback. Let's fix PC gaming!

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    • 2 weeks later...

    So, after some weeks as you may know I have some notes.

    First, smaller ones. There are many microtransactions categories that don't seem like having much of a strong "identity" as they are currently worded.

    Why working with the spotless property (which then requires the "2006 disclaimer"), when you could just mark games having microtransactions and that's it? It had its reasons behind, on a website just completely focused on mtx, but in something with a much more comprehensive scope it actually is itself a pimple.

    Then, assuming free-to-grind entails "in a reasonable time frame".. how is this more than just some kind of "logical opposite" of pay to win? I see how such kind of tag could have a pretty negative connotation, but at the end of the day, isn't this the real quick-to-understand buzzword (if you can excuse the term) readers are tuned to?

    Further free-to-play could better underline its more or less "slim" difference with freeware (something like "similarly to the previous entry, you can enjoy the most important/relevant/main parts of the game without paying a dime, but there are also actually paid unlocks."), and how therefore the tag may or may not be harmless (e.g. AFAIK Apex Legends is pretty legit with its mtx, but Combat Arms or Metin were pay to win juggernauts back in the day).

    And last but not least for the tiny chery picks: I really don't see any point in distinguishing DLCs from expansions. I understand why there is this kind of.. subtle undertone to each word, but at the same time it seems pointless to arbitrarily divide content into a ">X hours length category" and "<X hours length category". I mean, microtransactions would still deserve their own separate category then, but if we aren't talking about patently small content, I don't personally care as an user if the game has "ten missions sold separately" or together (as long as the price is fitting).

    But I'll come back to this later and perhaps everybody will be happy.


    Now, something odd to talk about: the very same "complete" tag (aka "bundle") I had managed to get gutted 3 weeks ago.

    A little refresher on my original criticism.

    To say whether a bundle gives you the "whole experience" or not (which is what the user eventually cares for), you cannot just quickly verify it from "technical aspects" of the game (such as whether the "new story" requires the original game, or it is standalone). Because there's no necessary relationship between this and the extent on the plot.*
    But there's also another problem. Evaluating the plot (or whatever combination of "artistic aspects") is its own huge can of worms. I reckon it can be done, but having to explicitly word out one's judgments should be the exception, not the rule every time.
    Hence it seemed DOA.

    BUT thinking to the dire state of XCOM2 dlcs had a light bulb flash on my head.
    I'm specifically pissed off because there is no [convenient and handy, but I suppose this come easy as a result] bundle that can give me straight away all the game content.
    Like there's this dlc, and then this other, but that sometimes comes with this bundle but you may have bought the "deluxe edition" which has instead this other stuff... And not only it feels a ripoff that as a newcomer I cannot "take advantage of their cumulative savings", you even get to wonder if that content is even supposed to be relevant at all**

    I call this the "commercial aspect", and I think it could be an actually workable criterion. It could even take into account of the half-serious joke I made about distinguishing between "this new content is reasonable to exist and be sold separately" vs "this is just cut content they want to screw you with".

    And here is where distinguishing major and minor content could even have its sense. You wouldn't expect an expansion as big as War of the Chosen to be included with the base game, would you?***
    Or I mean.. nowadays you wouldn't even expect the most stupid of the skins to come for free, but 11 years ago it was fairly normal for minor content to be free post-release. Both Battlefield and Call of Duty did for example.****

    Does any of this make sense?


    *Think to Half-Life: Opposing Force and Crysis Warhead for example. Only one is standalone, but their side story doesn't relate all that differently from their respective base games.

    **e.g. I understand the backstory of the h3h3 Character Pack in Payday 2, and I don't care if the Ultimate Edition didn't came with it. On the other hand having Shen's Last Gift nowhere makes it seems trash, despite the situation not being like that.
    And then we also have multiple offenders like EA, that not only could not make a comprehensive ME2 or ME3 pack once.. they couldn't even deign to include the ME2 and ME3 dlcs in the damn Mass Effect Trilogy.

    ***Or even just being in a bundle! At least in the first months since release. Yes this would amend my original idea, but it still sounds doable. I mean.. Any sane player of the game would know it's pretty beefy and important, am I right? The same could be also said about The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine.. Arma 3: Apex is where I would start already to have doubts.

    ****Speaking of which, MW2 happens to have a bundle. But (at least on steam) the individual products bought separately would come *cheaper* than that. So funny to wonder whether this should count or not against our aim.


    It has come to my attention while wrapping up this post, that the XCOM 2: Reinforcement Pack contained inside the XCOM 2 Collection, does in turn contains the three dlcs that I thought had been omitted.

    GG 2K? Thankfully my reasoning should still stand.

    I hope this may be an example and encouragement for constructive criticism even for somebody else other than the usual 2-3 masterminds. 😃

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