Why former Sony Online boss doesn't like microtransactions

John Smedley shares his thoughts on the popular and controversial business model.

Hero's Song, the next game from former Sony Online/Daybreak boss John Smedley and his new studio Pixelmage Games, will not include any microtransactions, the executive confirmed as part of a recent Reddit AMA. In fact, the plan right now is that every game developer Pixelmage makes will be without micropayment systems.

"There will be zero selling of any microtransactions in any Pixelmage Games game including Hero's Song. So no -- no power will ever be sold period. Earn it," Smedley said.

Asked to elaborate on why he is so against microtransactions, a system employed by games big and small across the industry, Smedley said microtransaction systems can "change the feeling of development."


"I don't like microtransactions because I worked on too many games with them," he explained, potentially referencing games like H1Z1, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online. "They change the feeling of development to one where you feel like you have to worry about the business instead of the gameplay. That leads to tons of compromises. I hated that.

"I also hated defending stuff we did to make money to our players.. because they're right...they know we spent too much time focusing on that stuff."

Also during the AMA, Smedley said Hero's Song, a 2D role-playing game, would have never been possible at Daybreak. He said he's had the idea for the game in his head "for a lot of my gaming career," but didn't say anything more about why it wouldn't have worked out at Daybreak.

Smedley also reiterated that part of the reason why he left Daybreak was because of his public clash with hackers.

"I was also under some pretty heavy attack by hackers, and I'm not going to say that didn't enter into the equation [to leave Daybreak]," Smedley said. "I don't like having my co-workers having to deal with that."

Pixelmage has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund Hero's Song, asking for $800,000 to finish the game. The studio has also raised more than $1 million in private funding and has partners lined up to provide extra money if need be.

At press time, the Hero's Song Kickstarter has raised around $74,000 from more than 1,700 backers. The final game is scheduled to launch for PC in October 2016, though a prerelease beta is planned.

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