Hogwarts Legacy 2, Mortal Kombat may go to microtransaction hell

mortal kombat 1 microtransactions

Games like Hogwarts Legacy 2 and future Mortal Kombat titles may be doomed to unpopular live-service models, judging from a recent Warner Bros. earnings call.

Mortal Kombat and Harry Potter have both been among Warner Bros. Games’ top-selling IPs in recent years. The newest Mortal Kombat entry, Mortal Kombat 1, sold nearly 3 million copies since in less than two months. The Harry Potter-inspired Hogwarts Legacy sold more than 15 million copies as of March, and just recently dropped on Switch. It’s likely to stand as one of the top-selling games in recent years, numbers that are comparable to a Call of Duty game.

It’s clear that both of these games are doing something right. Despite this success, publisher WB Games is set for a big shift to heavily emphasize live service models in its games. That likely means loads of frustration being voiced by fans regarding future Harry Potter and Mortal Kombat titles.

What are Warner Bros’s plans for Mortal Kombat and Hogwarts Legacy 2?

Warner Bros. Games is seemingly set to incorporate live service elements and free-to-play elements into titles, with an emphasis on post-release monetization options.

“Our focus is on transforming our biggest franchises from largely console and PC-based with three or four-year release schedules to include more always-on gameplay through live services, multiplatform and free-to-play extensions,” CEO David Zaslav said in an earnings call.

This isn’t the first time Warner Bros. has expressed its live service intentions for the future. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is WB Games’ next big release and it has been a lightning rod of criticism due to the reveals of live-service elements designed to keep the player coming back and spending money through a battle pass and always-online requirement. 

The aggressiveness of these monetization plans wasn’t initially clear when it came to other big franchises like Mortal Kombat and Harry Potter. The recent backlash surrounding Mortal Kombat 1’s premium items is likely a small taste of what’s to come in Hogwarts Legacy 2.

What is the Mortal Kombat 1 microtransaction controversy?

Mortal Kombat 1’s premium store has begun selling new fatalities for $7 to $10 worth of in-game currency. Announcer packs for upcoming characters are also being sold for a similar price.

The controversy began when Warner Bros. added a Halloween-themed fatality in an October patch that could be purchased for Dragon Krystals. 1,250 Krystals cost $10 of real-life currency. This comes on top of the game’s original $70 price tag, or $110 for the premium version. The in-game item didn’t result in increased play time by any apparent metric and was lambasted by fans on social media. The controversy was followed by a revised “Seasonal Fatalities Bundle.”

The core issue in players’ minds is that this is seeing the game charging players for content that would have been free in earlier series iterations. This returned to the fore with the release of an Omni-Man Announcer Pack for 1,000 Krystals.

Mortal Kombat 1 has still enjoyed very strong reviews and recently won the Golden Joystick Award for best multiplayer game of 2023. Its offering of cosmetic items isn’t unusual relative to genre norms. But the non-stop churn of in-game items that require real-world currency is likely a taste of what’s in store for games like Hogwarts Legacy 2. It’s easy to imagine immersion being shattered by having the ability to choose one’s house by paying $5 worth of super-galleons.

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Written by Mohamed Hassan

Mohamed still treasures his time playing games on the original PlayStation, speedrunning through the Megaman X games and replaying acclaimed role-playing game Chrono Cross countless times. Since then, his love for JRPGs and platformers has only grown and is among the driving forces behind his passion for writing about video games.

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