Microtransactions have become increasingly popular in the gaming industry over the years, with many games incorporating them into their monetization strategies. One such game is Neverwinter, an MMORPG developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Entertainment. In a 2013 interview with Gamer Euphoria, the lead designer of Neverwinter, Zeke Sparkes, discussed the game’s approach to microtransactions and the lessons they had learned.
According to Sparkes, the team at Cryptic Studios approached microtransactions with a “fairness first” mentality. They wanted to ensure that players could progress through the game without feeling like they were forced to spend money. Sparkes explained, “We want people to enjoy the game and not feel like they’re being held back.” This led to the team designing a system where players could progress through the game and earn rewards without having to spend money.
One of the key aspects of Neverwinter’s microtransaction system is the use of a currency called Zen. Zen can be earned through playing the game or purchased with real money. Sparkes explained that this approach was intended to give players “options,” saying, “We want people to be able to play the game without spending money, but we also want to offer options for those who want to get things faster.” By allowing players to earn Zen through gameplay, the team hoped to provide a balanced approach to microtransactions.
Another key element of Neverwinter’s microtransaction system is the use of a “lockbox” system. Lockboxes are special items that can be found throughout the game world and opened with special keys, which can be purchased with Zen. The lockboxes contain valuable items such as mounts, companions, and other rare items. Sparkes acknowledged that the lockbox system has been controversial among players but defended its inclusion, stating, “We wanted to provide players with a sense of excitement and anticipation, like opening a present.”
Despite the team’s best intentions, the microtransaction system in Neverwinter has not been without its criticisms. Some players have accused the game of being “pay-to-win,” meaning that players who spend real money have an unfair advantage over those who do not. Sparkes acknowledged that this was a valid concern but argued that the team had worked hard to ensure that the game was still fair for everyone. He explained, “We’re constantly monitoring feedback and making changes where necessary to ensure that the game remains balanced.”
In the end, the microtransaction system in Neverwinter is a delicate balancing act. The team at Cryptic Studios has worked hard to ensure that players can enjoy the game without feeling like they have to spend money. However, as with any microtransaction system, there will always be criticisms and concerns. Ultimately, it is up to each player to decide whether or not they are comfortable with the way microtransactions are handled in Neverwinter.