Microsoft announces that at least $1.5 million has been made from Halo 5: Guardians' controversial microtransactions, which allow players to spend money on REQ Packs.
When Halo 5: Guardians landed on Xbox One last year, it introduced players to the Requisition System (often shortened to REQ System). This offers players of the game's multiplayer mode the chance to spend points earned during matches on REQ Packs which in turn provide new weapons and gear. REQ Packs can also be purchased with real money, however, which led to fears that the game would become pay-to-win.
Despite those fears many Halo 5: Guardians players have still been purchasing REQ Packs, which are available for anywhere between $2 and $100. Today, Microsoft has announced that, in fact, at least $1.5 million worth of REQ Packs have been purchased by players since the game's launch. A "portion" of the money earned from REQ Packs goes towards the Halo World Championship prize fund and that prize fund is now locked at $2.5 million (it started at $1 million). That's a huge amount of growth from just a few months ago, when the overall prize fund was $1.5 million.
Microsoft adds that "since we first announced a starting prize pool of $1 million at Gamescom 2015, the winnings for the Halo World Championship has grown immensely due to community crowdfunding via the Halo 5: Guardians Req system." With the winning Halo World Championship team set to take home $1 million, Microsoft also calls it the "biggest individual prize pool in console eSports history".
The sentiment being expressed by many fans is that 343 Industries and Microsoft's decision to split the revenue between eSports and their own coffers is a wise one. As 343 stated when defending the REQ System from pay-to-win accusations, it does allow those who play the game a lot to feel rewarded - being given something extra for their time. The other argument in support of the system is that those spending actual money on REQ Packs are likely diehard Halo fans and will not mind (and may even be glad) that their money is going towards Halo 5's eSports wing.
As ever, though, there are some who argue that microtransactions have no place in retail games at all. Many recent and upcoming releases – including Rainbow Six Siege and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – all feature revenue stream and have faced similar backlash. However, as long as the money earned from microtransactions remains high, as is the case with Halo 5, it seems unlikely that the business model will disappear any time soon.
The Halo World Championship 2016 finals take place between March 18-20, 2016.