This is my attempt at making peace with the people who like micro-transactions (MT) in games.
It was about 20 years ago that I played my first MT game. It was a Star Trek trading cards game. Me and my friends were fans of the IP and started to buy card packs. The game was a lot of fun for us - for a while. It didn't take long and some of my friends started to win very often. Usually due to one or two cards that were quite special.
One day, in an attempt to balance the game, I copied their cards with plain paper. For some reason they didn't like it. I explained again and again that it was still the same game with the same rules. But since they had suffered the (considerable) cost of the card packs, they considered it cheating if I wouldn't suffer the same expense. I offered to repay them. We could share the costs, but they didn't like that either.
Soon after that I got out. It's not that I didn't have the money; that's rarely my problem. It's that I didn't like a business that sold beautiful paper for hundreds of Deutsche Mark. But I had learned that MT work - fabulously.
When I entered the MT debate on MMPRPG blogs I always pointed out that MT work. That's why they are dangerous. If they weren't profitable we wouldn't have to worry. However, a lot of players, and especially developers had argued with the MT-don't-work-crowd for so long that they considered it a victory when it turned out that, surprise, MT work.
Now, let me say that if you are a small games studio and can't make a retail release, and can't ask for a subscription and for some reason don't want to make a free demo, I think careful MT are a way you can go. Actually, for many games with a weak simulation-aspect I couldn't care less whether you use MT. I don't play arcade games, anyway.
What I don't like are MT in a virtual world. That doesn't mean that I don't want you to earn money. On many occasions have I said that $15 a month is incredibly cheap and I'd love to pay much more. For a good virtual world I'd easily pay $100 and more a month.
If I like your game I'd love to donate some money. But it seems like developers have this mindset that players need to be .. made.. to pay money. It's the only explanation I have for the non-existence of donate buttons.
From the advocates of MT I ask just one thing: Accept that the break of consistency in a virtual world harms the experience for some players, like me. We are in the minority. But that doesn't mean that we don't feel the way we say. For us a virtual world gets worse when the fiery sword doesn't come from the demon or the blacksmith, but from the developer's item-shop.
If some of us continue to play after you forced the MT on us, that doesn't mean that we enjoy the MT and just out of spite didn't want you to earn a lot of money. It just means that we like the game enough to continue to play despite the MT.
Added Mr. Cousins presentation to the Really Interesting Links on the right.