These days players use many factors when it comes to their ideal gameplay. Having a powerful weapon, having a support tool, or even having a proper spell to get the job done is just one of those. One aspect that really took off though was the appearance of a character. Companies took note when players suggested (or complained depending on how you see it) having special skins to compliment the overall appearance. These days there isn’t a game out there that includes a section in their microtransaction library that is dedicated to cosmetics whether it has armor skins, weapon skins, new hairstyles, facial configurations, and so much more. To sweeten the deal game companies would create crate bundles that contained multiple skins and other accessories usually at a discounted price. This, in turn, has created a little trend known as The Fashion Wars. I have seen websites dedicated to specific games where players showed off their combinations of outfits, color schemes, and other accessories they may have obtained. I’m going to discuss a game in each of the following categories that have a dedicated section for cosmetics. They will include:
- An MMO
- A Battle Royale
- Multiplayer Shooter
- A Mobile Game
- A MOBA
Guild Wars 2
The term Fashion Wars was actually coined from Guild Wars 2 with the heavy focus on armor styles and several color dye combinations that were available players had no excuse to mix and match. I have seen some interesting combinations where one person ran around as Sailor Moon, one large looking norn looked like Winnie The Pooh, and another character running around as Pink Diamond. Creativity was a very strong suit that didn’t require to worry much about the stats of armor and weapons. ArenaNet first published special armor skins since the inception of the core game in 2012 but had a major flaw which eventually found a workaround. They designed the Wardrobe where if you destroyed an item via salvaging that skin would unlock in your wardrobe and you were free to reapply that skin to any matching weighted armor set provided you had Transmutation Charges in your account.
Since then ArenaNet churned out special armor sets associated with yearly events and story episodes as they were released. Accessories such as weapon skins and limited edition headpieces were also sold in conjunction. A full outfit would range between 600-700 gems per outfit. A standard order of 800 gems runs at $10 USD. Accessories typically run between 300-500 gems depending on what is being sold at the time. In the later years of their lifecycle including up to this date, a special package can be purchased for 2,000 gems, or $25 USD. As of February 2nd, the current package for sale contains a special outfit, a miniature of the Shrine Guardian, the Shine Guardian Mount Skin, and a few other goodies. That was another thing that was added in the expansion Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire was mounts and obtaining special mount skins but those got pricy very quick. A license was 400 gems, or $5 USD and the skin was from a random pool assigned to the license. If you were looking for a specific one be prepared to shell out 1,200 gems, or $15 USD to get the selection license that allows you to pick from the pool given. This so far has been the most customizable experience I have had to date.
It may have gotten the hottest game of 2018, but to be a little bias this is not my kind of game. I played it when it first came out but soon it was flooded with a community like no other. I just lost interest altogether since I didn’t have much time to spend on practicing the game mechanics. Given that there is no character selection or any way to customize your character it was inevitable that Epic Games created a market that introduced costumes, dances, emotes, and the like to change the experience up even though no kind of advantage would be given. The seasonal Battle pass and PvE full game was another idea but it seemed that the cosmetic market would dominate this free to play battle royale. I have to laugh a little to myself when I hear a few of my co-workers complain that their children are always asking them for V-bucks to purchase skins and the like.
Speaking of the skins let’s take a look at their section. Always changing out it seems they don’t always stick around for long. The rarer the outfit the more it is going to cost. The typical outfit would run about 800 to 1,200 V-bucks, or $8 to $12 USD where the exotic (and often flashiest) outfits would run at 2,000 V-Bucks, or $20 USD. That’s a lot of money considering that all it does is change your appearance. No wonder my co-workers complained about this so might as well break out a credit card if they are that adamant. Epic Games, however, did include certain skins for gliders, picks, and an outfit or two in their battle pass so there was the option of paying less or even obtaining a special bundle that unlocked several tiers at once. Out of the list, I believe Fortnite is not only the most expensive cosmetic market but the most successful cosmetic market.
I can already hear the groans when it comes to Bungie’s idea of a microtransaction store. To be fair Activision had more of a say when it came to their store, but to transition from Destiny to Destiny 2 was not an easy task. With a brand new armor system that really was foreign, players felt cheated at the options presented to them. Emotes, new armor pieces, sparrows, and ghosts were, to be honest, nice looking but given the price and how static stats were players felt this was not a good use of their cash. This is a prime example of how the cosmetic market should not work.
To start with the items that could be purchased did not utilize the silver currency but instead required Bright Dust. Bright Dust can be obtained while playing the game so there is an incentive. Silver Currency was used to purchase an option of one, three, or five special engrams that when decoded by the in-game clerk they would generate between 4-5 items each. Players had the option to just play the game and every time their XP bar capped an engram was deposited into their inventory to decrypt. This may have sounded good on paper but the matter of the fact is Bungie isn’t making the kind of money other companies are with their packages. Perhaps now that they have left Activision we may see a change in that market in the near future but for now, all we can do is wait and see. If you decided you wanted to purchase multiple engrams and try your luck expect to spend $10 to $20 USD. $10 will get you 1,000 Silver with a 100 Silver bonus, and $20 will net you 2,000 Silver with a 300 Silver bonus.
Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Links/Elder Scrolls: Legends
There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to online card games so including two into the same category only makes sense. The premise is to build the best deck that you can against millions of others in the world. While the major focus for these kinds of games involves buying booster packs or custom decks, the option to buy different cosmetics is there. These cosmetics can range anywhere from new avatars, card backings, to even new playmats/playfields.
Between the two games, there are some differences but we can see pretty much the same setup. Both games currently have special offers and additional sales going on so if you know you are looking for something specific now is the time to either pick it up or wait until another rotation occurs. I see many of these starter packs start at $4.99 or sometimes lower but for additional looks expect to buy the larger packs that run between $14.99 to $19.99. The more you spend the more you are going to get!
This might come as a strange choice due to the more popular choice of Overwatch, but Paladins is a free-to-play game focusing their attention on their internal market rather than having to rely on both the purchase of the game and internal market. They play the same way in my opinion but I’m not going to delve too much into that topic. While there were ways to unlock certain costumes without the use of Crystals, the in-game currency, many of the special outfits and borders required either paying for them individually or buying them in a set. If you bought the battle pass and worked your way through it you would wind up with some even more unique skins.
Cosmetics could be bought with two methods. Crystals which could be bought at $4.99 USD for a small amount of 200 Crystals. Or players could complete quests on a daily basis to obtain in-game gold and a small portion of crystals (typically 25 a week) to spend on some more common skins. For the more exclusive skins expect to spend anywhere between $15-$25 USD. The option to buy champions with money is available but to make the game a bit more interesting I suggest just play and complete the missions to unlock them individually. It will be more satisfying.
Monster Hunter World
I wanted to make a small inclusion for this title because a prime example of cosmetics without the need of spending any kind of money can be found here. Capcom tends to launch events that keep the game relevant on a frequent basis. Several crossover events such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Final Fantasy XIV have been featured thanks to the many partnerships (As of this day I still have yet to defeat Behemoth. One day). In honor of its one year release, the current Appreciation Festival gives players the opportunity to craft one of the flashiest sets of armor I have seen in any game, top hat included!. Once you have bought the game you will have access to many of these sets, but some events are only available during certain times so keep an eye out if you want a specific set.
The fashion war will continue to be a trend that will keep the markets stable. The least concerning matter is that companies wouldn’t have to worry about hot issues like loot crates and outfits….oh wait they bundle some outfits into loot crates don’t they? Oops! Send us a photo in the comments of the best outfit in your favorite game that you enjoy to wear.
*Special thanks to Evanier and Altair in the ACE community for assisting me in additional screenshots in Guild Wars 2, and to the MayorOfGaming for the shots of YuGiOh*