Well, here’s a new one: Digital Extremes, the studio behind the massively popular free-to-play game Warframe removed an in-game feature since it was working too well. In a documentary series by Noclip which you can watch below, Digital Extremes studio manager Sheldon Carter talks about Warframe microtransactions and designing the game’s economy.
Carter talked about how in one instance, a Warframe microtransaction element had to be removed simply because it was being used way too much. Back when the virtual pets that helped players in missions were introduced (called “Kubrows”), players could pay a premium currency called platinum to randomly generate a new fur pattern or color combination for their pets. It cost around 10 platinum or about $0.67 in real-world money. Sounds harmless, right? Well, it seems one person went a little overboard with it, and that’s when Digital Extremes realized they created a slot machine in-game.
Here’s what Carter had to say about it in the documentary:
We had a lever, basically, for all intents and purposes. And we saw, you know, a guy pull the lever like 200 times. And it’s just like, ‘oh my dear god, what have we done? We’ve created a slot machine.’ And so you know, it was a couple days I think it took us to take it out—a day, day and a half. That one is a big regret.
While this feature turned out to be a moneymaker for Digital Extremes, it completely went against what the intent of the pets were supposed to be, as well as the game itself. Interestingly, it was the spending habits of one “whale” (a person who spends a lot on microtransactions for a game) that drove Digital Extremes to patch this slot machine feature out (hotfix 14.0.5) in 2014. Check out this part of the interview with Carter in the video below (it’s a multi-part series, which you can check out at the YouTube channel’s video playlist).
This is both weird and refreshing at the same time, right? I mean, when was the last time you’ve heard a studio pull a feature out for making too much money? But then again, this is why Warframe is successful and is still being played by millions to this day — even years after launch.
Did Digital Extremes did the right thing in pulling it or should have they left it in?