My Ideal System for a Game that uses any kind of Micro Transaction system is Theoretically one that is Closer to how a Trading Card game Operates.
Basically almost all the content would be in the cards that cost jack all, and pretty much the only thing you have to pay for is the Cards. (And if its some kind of Skylanders Deal, you also might have to pay for the Card reader. Not really sure how to work around that unless the thing comes Free with a Huge pack of Cards.)
However... You can Also Trade those cards to others, or just give them away, so others have not only a fighting chance to get ahead without Paying, it fosters an urge to form a Community around the Game.
... With that in Mind...
Lets Say I made a Augmented Reality game that allowed one to Create and Train Monsters. And the Entire Monster's set of Levels and what not were stored on a Trade-able e reader Card. Though every Monster would start at Level 1 on Creation, after being Written to the card it would be able to gain Levels.
This would Theoretically allow one to collect on an investment on any given card... Kind of. Since high level cards that you have worked on could be Traded for a profit to Newbie Players. Basically making Second hand Cards worth more than a Fresh Set unless you Plan to create a brand new Custom Tailored Monster suited to their playing Style.
Assuming The Software is Free, and the Card Reader costs jack all, (or maybe have some Public card Reader set ups) then all up this would make a fairly Good way of Almost completely negating the hassles of Micro Transactions.
...Or not... I'm not entirely well versed in how this works.
Why are the suits and shareholders so hell bent on increasing profits? Is regular income of "loadsa money" not enough? Oh wait, i forgot they cant budget properly can they so they dont make loadsa money, so they try to scrimp on us instead of learning how to spend money proportionately.
Part of the problem is that in the case of publicly traded companies you are answerable to investors who are looking at quarterly earnings reports rather then the long term.
It certainly doesn't help when said investors listen to the expectations of some Wall street "experts" that odds are know LESS about your company then flying a rocket ship to Mars. And when you don't meet or beat the amazing Wall street number out of a hat said investors tend to start selling your stock and as a result the value of your company measured by said stock goes down.
What we are seeing is not the problem but a SYMPTOM of the whole instant gratification mentality in the public working its way up to the top of companies.
I do not buy Fee to Pay games. I just don't. If you're gana try to sell me a full price game and then tack on more charges, you're not just going to lose a sale. I'm not JUST going to not buy it, I'm gana take it one step further. Because Fee to Pay games are a giant "fuck you" to the gamer. I need to flip them the bird right back.
I'm actually curious about your opinion of Guild Wars 2. It matches a similar kind of model... you buy the game at $60, and it has microtransactions all over in it like many F2P MMOs... and yet, it seems to do it right. Most of the items you buy are cosmetics, services, and convenience items. At the same time, however, in-game gold can be purchased with Gems (Money currency), and vice versa.
Guild Wars 2 is an interesting case, especially since it's also an MMO, which brings with it its own set of considerations. On the whole, I feel like GW2 is full of examples of how to both do F2P *and* MMOs correctly. I've not spent one thin dime on anything on GW2, but had a total blast, and if I get back into it, I may well buy things -- not because I feel I have to, but because I want to.
And that's when you know a game has done microtransactions correctly -- when you want to go out of your way to buy a thing, not when you were bullied and funneled into doing it.
I'm actually glad you took the time to say that you're pretty okay with GW2 following this model, because I was about to point to GW2 as the primary example of why your argument isn't valid.
Here we have a game which executes micro-transactions brilliantly. Everything in the cash shop is an optional item that you don't need to have in order to play the game and enjoy it. On top of that, many of said items drop in-game (at a very rare rate). On top of that, the devs let you trade in your hard-earned in-game gold for gems to buy these cash items if you don't want to spend real money. You can buy cash shop items without spending ANY cash.
And the GW2 devs have confirmed that their game's finances are well under control with over three million copies sold to date and a steadily rising population, and that they are not in any sort of financial trouble of any kind despite this "seemingly poor" business model.
Honestly I think GW2 is the perfect counterexample to your argument. It's perfectly okay for a game to charge $60 out of the gate and come with micro-transactions....but it needs to be done smartly and it needs to be done with consideration to the hard work players will put in to get their shinies. The problem isn't the model itself, it's the fac that so few developers seem to know how to do the micro-transaction model the right way so that it feels rewarding instead of oppressive.
Jim, there is always an option. We can just make our own indy games.
There are also other games where the micro transactions aren't as clear cut such as world of warcrafts empty servers or dead realms problem where after paying for the game plus expansions and subscription fees, a large number of players were forced out of an extra 20 per character in order to play the MMO properly.
Some games aren't like a serpent round your neck, some games use the carrot instead of the stick.
Like League of Legends.
Somebody PLEASE GIF 2:15 -> 2:21!
Jim would really get a kick out of DLC quest, its pretty much a video game representation of what pay to win/fee to play will become
(you don't pay real world money for the DLC in game, you buy it with in game coins)