Modern gaming goes through ebbs and flows of changes, but one thing over the past decade or so that has remained the same is within microtransactions and the growing number of cosmetic items within our games – and it’s starting to raise questions about where the limit should be.
The most recent example can be found in Riot Games newest title of Valorant – this weekend saw the release of the line of ‘Elderflame’ skins within the game but not without a hefty price tag attached to them. The cosmetics do offer quite a lot of change with custom animations, sound, and visual effects that alter the ingame weapons quite a lot, but to buy the bundle of all four weapon cosmetics and the knife, it has the base cost of around $95, which doesn’t include the price of upgrading the cosmetics with different paint jobs and effects, which brings the cost up by another nearly $200, the cost of the entire bundle with all upgrades comes out to $292, a steep tag for something purely cosmetic.
This isn’t a new practice – the publisher behind Valorant has a storied history in its other game of League of Legends of pushing cosmetics, but never anything quite as costly as this with these variations often only costing $15 or $20 per skin, and it isn’t to say that these are the most expensive cosmetics on the market as other games such as Counter-Strike have items that range into the tens of thousands of dollars, but there’s a key distinction of exclusivity. It doesn’t set a great precedent, however, as there had already been a number of concerns with previous bundles around the price that had been set – given the full release of the game has only been around for a few weeks, it’s largely expected that these expensive sets will continue to release over time setting a precedent for non-exclusive, widely available cosmetic items that continue to increase in price.
Unlike the previously mentioned Counter-Strike too, these cosmetics aren’t leading a new direction for these games either – the introduction of a more gambling style cosmetic led to the birth of skin betting on professional games within CS, and despite a number of restrictions online such as Gamstop it also helped lead to the emergence of esports betting, and can be widely accessed through sites such as Maximum Casinos which has helped the growing scene – but for many these new cosmetics feel like a step backwards.
It certainly is an interesting time for gaming however, we’re moving outside a time of a singular cost of $60 to buy and play, and into the free realm of optional thousands of dollars just for cosmetics, and whilst this does help the developers and expand on the game for the free users, but in this instance it seems to be coming at the cost of player enjoyment and also leave many feeling as if the game isn’t really aimed toward them as they cannot afford the growing cost for these skins.