Microtransactions Sink To A New Low Across the Pacific

The world’s Mecca of vending machines, meet microtransactions. 1up is reporting that Japan has gotten its first taste of high-end abuse through Xbox Live in the form of Aquazone–a customizable, aquarium-themed simulation/screensaver for the Xbox 360. 5,000 Microsoft Points worth of content–that’s $62, for those of you who are still confused by the obtuse conversion–are available in the form of "new" aquatic sea creatures and other related flora and fauna for your virtual fishtank.

The catch (read: swindle) is that nothing you’re paying for is "new" per se; that is, it’s content that’s already stored on the disc. Each transaction is about 108kB–the same size as the downloads in Chromehounds, which used the same shady method of locking content–with 18 downloads available. Aquazone‘s publisher, Frontier Groove, is essentially asking for additional money to unlock what you’ve already paid for. If you want all of that content, you’re expected to spend well over the original forty dollars burned to purchase the physical disc. Being charged for cheat codes and horse armor doesn’t seem nearly as criminal as it did before.

The saga of the microtransaction has been one plagued with similar terrors here in the U.S., but it’s easy to imagine how completely out of hand this will get in the land of the pachinko machine–remember, Japan is a country known for its merchandising. It isn’t out of the question to assume an extinction level event will occur en masse for the collective Japanese wallet when the Gundam, Evangelion, or Dragonball Z franchises embark upon their own gravy trains.

No consumer deserves to be so blatantly ripped off, not the least of which are the consumers who have already paid. Boikotto, anyone?


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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