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Top 10 Outrageous Microtransactions

by Jeff Marchiafava on Dec 26, 2017 at 02:00 PM

Microtransactions: Publishers love them, gamers try their best to tolerate them. While many companies have found ways to introduce alternate revenue streams in their games without affecting gameplay, others have been more cavalier in their approach to microtransactions. Here are the 10 most outrageous implementations of microtransactions in video games.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in issue 297 of Game Informer magazine.

10. Everything
Dungeon Keeper
EA took Dungeon Keeper’s premise of demonic minions hoarding gold a little too literally. The publisher filled its mobile remake with so many in-app purchases, time gates, and premium currencies that the British Advertising Standards Authority ruled they legally couldn’t call it “free-to-play.”

09. Diamonds Are Forever... Or Not
Curiosity: What’s Inside the Cube
Remember Peter Molyneux’s cube-tapping mobile game that promised to change one lucky winner’s life forever? It didn’t. But you could’ve changed your bank account forever by purchasing a £50,000 Diamond Chisel. It let you break blocks faster. Video games!

08. Virtual Jukebox
Guitar Hero Live
Guitar Hero was already built on a respected and lucrative DLC format, but that didn’t stop Activision from trying to screw it up one more time. In order to play a specific song in Guitar Hero Live, you had to shell out one-time-use Play tokens. Kind of like a jukebox…that you paid $60 for.

07. Achievement Aggrievement
Nier Automata
Trophies are a virtual symbol of a gamer’s hard-earned accomplishments. They’re also ultimately meaningless, which is why we have mixed feelings about Nier Automata straight-up selling them for in-game gold. The real surprise? Square Enix not including a real-money purchase option.

06. Subscribe To Solitaire?!
Solitaire, Windows 10
Solitaire has been a staple of Windows since…well, the beginning of Windows. It’s a miracle it took Microsoft this long to screw it up, but boy did they ever. The insane excitement of Klondike is now broken up by video ads, and you’ll have to pay $2 a month to remove them.

05. Deer Urine. No Really
TheHunter Classic
Technically deer urine is only one item in TheHunter’s $15 Deer Hunter DLC pack. You also get clothes, calls, and hunting licenses, which are required to actually shoot anything – and the three-month permits run out in real-time. That deer pee is sounding pretty good right now, isn’t it?

04. Geico For Your Gekko
Metal Gear Solid V
Building up your Mother Base in MGS V is satisfying. Having your time-gated resources stolen by other players? Not so much. Luckily, Konami has a deplorable solution: Players can spend real cash to cover their losses for a few days. It’s almost as fun as buying insurance in real life!

03. Paying Out The Caboose
Train Simulator
If you ever wondered what being a train conductor is like, you should just stop and become one in real life. Then when you get your first month’s salary, you might be able to afford Train Simulator’s DLC, which currently totals over $7,000 for all its various wagons and routes. 

02. Holy Ships!
Star Citizen
Star Citizen is the used-car dealership of video games. The perpetually delayed MMO still has no release date in sight, but the online store is doing gangbusters! In it suckers players can purchase dozens of ships, ranging from $20 to $3,000. Maybe they’ll even get to play the game someday!

01. High-Priced Horseplay
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion’s $2.50 horse armor DLC is nothing compared to the other entries on this list, but that’s precisely the point. Bethesda didn’t just pave the way for absurd and overpriced microtransactions; it proved to the wider industry that there’s a thriving market for it. The rest is history...sad and depressing history.

Did we forget a particularly heinous microtransaction? Share it in the comments below! Generally griping about microtransactions will also be accepted.