Okay, a bit of a rant is incoming, so be forewarned. At the recent Morgan Stanley Tech, Media, and Telecom Conference CFO of EA Blake Jorgensen said the following.
The next and much bigger piece [of the business] is microtransactions within games.
We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.
So now that you know what he said, the common reaction on Twitter and the interwebs tends to be that this is yet another example of big publishers keeping the consumer down and penny pinching us for things we already bought. For me though that's a bit eccentric and not at all practical. Companies (unless you're Sony) generally only back plans and products that have proven to be profitable or have very high potential to be. In this case, micro transactions have gone over quite well. I'm not talking amongst everyone, but the general public doesn't seem to have a problem with them, and neither do I. Sure everyone will get up in arms once another season pass or special horse armor DLC gets announced, but when it's released for their favorite game that they love and want to play more of, most of those people download it on day one.
Personally I have no problem with microtransactions, as long as I can play the game from start to finish without them. Again, I've been known to plop down money for costumes, avatar items, extra non story dlc, etc. for my favorite games, and I don't regret any of those purchases. If someone wants to get extra health when in a jam for $1, what do I care? It doesn't affect me and if they enjoy the game that much more, so be it.
Dead Space 3 is the most recent convert to microtransactions
We are in a time where news of another developer or even publisher closing its doors for good is common place, and if you want these companies to be around to make your games then you just might have to stop protesting every time a new DLC pack is announced. I'm okay with letting--let's call him "Joe Bob"--Joe Bob buy himself to level 40 in an action rpg. Does he cheat himself a bit of the experience? Yes, I think so. Does it affect me one bit? Nope, and that money went into developing a game I might love or that might be crap, but it's going right back into making games, and that's what I care about. As Dark Void taught us, they can't all be winners. I know random, but man that game sucked.
I love games just as much as you do, and I'm not an advocate for getting ripped off. At some point though we do have to realize that these are companies, and just like in any other business they have to make money. If microtransactions are a way to keep some of these companies around for the long haul then sell your special elixir potions for $1 to your hearts content to Joe Bob and call it a day. Granted, I'm also the guy who says that for the comic industry to survive it can't ignore digital but must embrace it, so I tend to be the rebellious black sheep all the way around.
It's not the end of the world, but it could be for only a small fee of $5.
Relax folks. If you don't want them, then don't buy them. Simple enough.