Monolith set to remove microtransactions from Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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Developer Monolith Soft has announced that it is set to remove all microtransactions from Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

In a statement posted to the Shadow of War website, the company said: “While purchasing Orcs in the Market is more immediate and provides additional player options, we have come to realize that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System. It allows you to miss out on the awesome player stories you would have otherwise created, and it compromises those same stories even if you don’t buy anything. 

“In order to fully restore the core promise of the Nemesis System, we’ll be permanently removing Gold, War Chests and the Market from Shadow of War. This means the option to purchase Gold with real-world money and the ability to gain Orc Followers from War Chests will be removed. There will be a specific amount of time given for players to utilize their unused Gold. If players have unused Gold by the end of the time allotted to spend it, any remaining Gold will be converted to in-game items.” 

Monolith has given a time-frame for the move, which will be executed via free updates: “The ability to purchase Gold will permanently cease on May 8, 2018. The permanent removal of Gold, War Chests and the Market will take place on July 17, 2018.” So effectively, Shadow of War players have until July 16, 2018 to make use of any Gold they have already purchased with real money. The company posted an FAQ describing the move in more detail here.

Monolith also announced that it will be updating: “The Shadow Wars section of the campaign, where players defend their fortresses against Sauron’s repeated counter-attacks. This portion of the game will be improved with new narrative elements and streamlined for a more cohesive experience. For players who choose to continue with these on-going fortress defence missions, the Endless Siege update released last November will still be available. We’ll also be incorporating many other gameplay improvements that will be detailed in future build notes, including Nemesis System updates, new player skins, skill tree additions, gear system upgrades and progression updates, just to name a few that we’re excited about.”

When Middle-earth: Shadow of War was released, it was well received in general, but criticised for including microtransactions which effectively allowed players to undermine the innovative story-generating Nemesis System by paying real money. Which Monolith has now acknowledged was a mistake, and is taking steps to rectify. 

The move feels like a triumph for those who view microtransactions as a cynical means of milking gamers for all they are worth. It will be interesting to see whether other developers and publishers follow Monolith’s example. If they do, it could spell the beginning of the end for microtransactions in triple-A games.