Why Infinite store’s issues go beyond cost
Coming from someone that has zero issues spending money on cosmetics, I haven’t bought nearly as much as I thought I would since Infinite has dropped. I know I’m not alone on this, either. Players all over hold issue with the Infinite store, and for good reason. Several good reasons, actually, and I’d like to break those down from not only a consumer perspective, but also some theories on how 343i/Microsoft could look at these as well. As always, this article is meant to be a means of providing feedback, and is not meant in any way to be mean or hateful towards 343i.
Many players cite cost as the major prohibiting factor when it comes to the Infinite storefront, but I actually believe that the bigger issue lies within the perceived value of these items. Other games have no problem selling cosmetic offerings, even Rainbow Six: Siege manages to sell single-character cosmetics despite having a roster of over 60 characters. However, R6 Siege presents these cosmetics much differently than Halo, and also recognizes that certain items are more valuable than others. For example, weapon charms in Siege are valued anywhere between $1.50 to $3, depending on the charm. Judging by Infinite’s now infamous “Cat Lovers” bundle, it looks like each item is valued at a flat $2.50. The key difference here is that Siege does not value weapon charms highly when purchased as part of a bundle. They are included to provide additional value to the bundles, and not to inflate the cost. Referring back to Cat Lovers, I would happily spend $10 on a bundle… if the items contained within were plentiful and exciting. $10 for a helmet attachment, a color, and two charms that I could really do without is not a very enticing purchase. However, $5 for such the same bundle becomes a much better value, and I’d happily buy that, even if I’d only use the cat ears for a gag (and ignoring the issues I have with selling basic color schemes on the store.)
A recent change that created value for the store was 343i fixing the Tenrai event. Originally, most of it’s offerings were tied to the store. 343i openly acknowledged that they did not market the event correctly, and that a lot of players felt “cheated” because of this. In fixing the event, the entire Yoroi armor core became much more valuable. Since there’s more earnable items, any cosmetic purchase is only going to help enhance that armor set, which in turn makes the marketable additions that much more valuable. Instead of skipping the event since the good stuff require me to open my wallet, I will instead be playing to earn it all, and I’ve already purchased a bundle to make my Yoroi armor stand out. That’s $20 that 343i would not have had if they hadn’t had fixed the Tenrai event.
Value can come from other places, as well. I’ve picked up “deluxe” offerings of games from indie developers, not because I really want the extra offerings, but because supporting these developers adds value to my money spent. Not only do I feel good about the purchase, but I get a little something for my trouble, even if these goodies weren’t the reason for my addon purchase. Halo actually hits this spot within the HCS store. I want Halo Esports to thrive, and picking up armor at a reasonable cost during launch week felt good. Every time I bring this up in conversation, someone jumps in with a similar experience, and I’m sure a recent purchase came to your mind, as well. With the overpriced offerings of the current Infinite shop, that good feeling has been replaced with almost a level of shame, at least for myself and a few of my friends. I’d appreciate knowing if you feel the same on this. Sure, most of us aren’t afraid of spending money on our favorites games, but at the current pricing and bundle structure it feels like we’re giving in to a system that was obviously meant to cheat us. So what’s the fix?
Remove FOMO from the Store!
This is simple on paper, but a new storefront would require an entire rework of the storefront in-game. However, I do feel this would benefit not just players, but 343i, as well. What changes would I suggest? Well…
- List all available items in a catalog, highlighting new additions instead of rotating them out.
- Give every individual item it’s own listing, and price bundles in a way that benefits players with a small discount.
- If 343 really wants to keep a weekly offering, have the offering be a special discount bundle instead of the only way to purchase items. This creates a sense of urgency that players can feel good about.
- Include base colors and simple coatings with Campaign, or offer them in a bundle that’s inexpensive. There’s over a dozen coatings that look like they’d be part of prior games, just bundle ’em and sell em for $10 or include them with Campaign.
- Cross-core anything that works on multiple cores, and clearly state what pieces work with each core.
While all of this sounds like it would bring in less income, I would argue the opposite. They’d make more money accumulating smaller purchases over time instead of making players feel negatively about spending $20 for something they had in several prior games. If they’d like expensive offerings, they have the resources to create new and more exotic designs that stand out. And with a permanent catalog, players won’t feel the need to hold out in hopes that their $20 will get them something nicer next week, since they can pull the trigger on their purchase anytime they want.
This ties back to value, because a store that respects the consumer is a store that creates value. This value will present itself in less players second-guessing themselves when they go to make even the cheapest of purchases, which will result in happier players and more income for 343i.
Will we see changes to the store?
While we won’t know until some form of announcement is made, we do know that 343i is aware of the issues with the store. They have not confirmed what sort of changes will be made… though we can take a guess looking at another Xbox Game Studios title: Gears 5. Less than a year after launch, the Coalition updated the Gears 5 store with new ways to earn skins, and a permanent catalog. You’ll notice I’ve suggested the same thing for Halo, and that’s because I found myself spending more after Operation 4, and the new store. Seeing another Microsoft game make these changes gives me hope for the future of the Infinite store, and with any luck we’ll be able to support Infinite… and feel good about it. ⚓