Crunching Mortal Kombat 11’s Microtransaction Numbers and NetherRealm’s Comments

After our initial video ran, NetherRealm posted a Kombat Kast video in which it addressed a lot of concerns about the cost of items in Mortal Kombat 11’s store vs. the grind they require to earn. Community Manager Tyler Landsdown said, “At launch, the difficulty of Towers of Time were too high. That made the process of earning rewards going through the Krypt punishingly slow.” He continued, “This game was never designed to encourage in-game purchases. NetherRealm does not make games that way and we never have made games that way.” In the microtransaction-filled world we live in, that was a very nice reassurance to hear.

On the Krypt front, Community Manager Derek Kirtzik said NetherRealm is working on a patch that will increase currency rewards, and that this patch will hopefully be out this week or the beginning of next, at the latest. They will also give everyone large amounts of each of Mortal Kombat 11’s many currencies: 500,000 Koins, 500 Hearts, 1,000 Souls, and 1,000 Time Krystals. That will go a long way toward unlocking chests and buying specific items from the store.

What was not addressed, specifically was the problem with the math in the original Reddit post that Boon objected to. His tweet suggests that a majority of the vast number of unlockable cosmetics will never be available for purchase, but without more information on exactly what will and won’t be for sale, it remains uncertain what the most money you could spend on Mortal Kombat 11’s microtransactions might be.

Let’s go over the math and the problems with it. The $6,440 number was initially calculated based on the announced roster of 23 characters, but there are actually 25, including the preorder bonus/DLC character Shao Kahn and unlockable/purchasable Frost, so the estimate was actually too low. With about 60 skins and 90 pieces of gear each, that totals 1,500 unlockable skins, 75 unlockable intros, 2,250 gear pieces, plus an unknown number of Brutalities (at least 50 total to unlock). The Reddit post assumed that all of these would at one point be available for purchase in the Premium Shop at a price of 500 Krystals per skin or Brutality, 300 per gear piece, and 100 per Kosmetic Kard. If you multiply it out (Gear: 300×2250 = 675,000, Intros: 75×750 = 56,250, Skins: 500×1500 = 750,000, Brutalities: 500×50 = 25,000) that comes to 1,506,250 Krystals. To buy that many at the best price, you’d need 269 of the $39.99 5,600 Time Krystal Packs, which would cost a whopping $10,757.31 to buy. (The original calculations assumed 56 skins for each of the 23 characters, $5 for Shao Khan, and $5 for Frost, which totaled $6,437.10 when using the 500 Time Krystal packs, but they didn’t factor in Brutalities, Intros, Kards, and gear, which are also sold in the Shop.) Also, due to the 24-hour refresh time it takes for new items to be made available, it would take 500 days to acquire all 1,500 skins if they were actually cycled through. Buying everything would be wildly impractical and, according to Boon, you can’t actually buy that many items because only an unknown percentage of it will ever be offered for sale. Even if it’s only 10% of the total, though, that’s still more than $1,000 worth of items.

Here’s what is definitely true: At the time of this writing, the Premium Shop currently has three skins, a Brutality, and a Kosmetic item. To buy all of those instead of earning them in the Krypt or Towers of Time it would cost you 2,100 Krystals, or about $19.99 worth if you were to buy the best-value bundle. Yesterday’s unique items were 2,300 Krystals and would have also cost $19.99, and so far they’ve offered a total of about $99.95 in featured items for sale.  Yes, you can earn this currency, the skins, the gear, intros, and Brutalities by playing, but pre-currency patch that’s not all that practical. After 14 hours of game time, I have not yet earned anything that’s been offered in the Premium Shop and have only amassed 1,150 Time Krystals in my inventory (a chunk of which comes from the first time you complete the campaign or tutorials). That rate of earning seems standard for those of us playing in the IGN office. So, to buy every item available on a given day it would take me about 28 hours of in-game time to buy one set of five store items – which means it would be effectively impossible to do every day. I’ve also been tracking the Towers of Time for store items and have yet to see one pop up, though that’s hard to track because they refresh so frequently.

As far as my own progress goes, after 14 hours I have collected 116 pieces of gear, leaving 2,134 to go. Theoretically, that means I need to play another 257 hours before I would complete my collection by earning the free in-game currencies of Hearts, Souls, and Koins (which can’t be bought) and using them to unlock chests.

I don’t even mind having to play dozens of hours to earn items, because Mortal Kombat 11 is a lot of fun. At the end of the day, all of the math is meaningless because what I really want is a clearer path of progression toward my self-determined goals. I only plan to play one or two characters heavily (I’m loving Scorpion and Frost), but because most cosmetics are locked away behind the mostly randomized reward chests, you never know which character’s stuff you’re going to get. Good luck finding Scorpion’s Burning Shirai Ryu mask in the Krypt or getting Frost’s Quantum Multiverse skin from the Towers of Time. It’s largely luck of the draw, and with so many possible rewards it feels laborious to try.

One way NetherRealm could fix this issue is by expanding on the better model for loot rewards that already exists in the Krypt. Shao Kahn and Scorpion Chests are static, and the r/MortalKombat community has already gone out of their way to list the content of each one, meaning you can set out to definitely acquire at least a few items. Of course, at this point I’ve only earned enough Hearts to open two of those Shao Kahn chests, so NetherRealm would also need to tweak either the cost to open them or the rate at which Hearts are rewarded for completing Towers and other events. That change would go a long way toward balancing out the grind of earning these items by playing. I do Fatalities and Brutalities every chance I get, I regularly play the Towers of Time, and it would be great to open all 25 Shao Khan chests to get at least a few of guaranteed items in a timely manner.

At the end of the day, it’s great to see NetherRealm doubling down on balance and admitting Towers (where most of the coveted cosmetics are going to land) needed to be adjusted to be a bit fairer. I hope to see the developers continue to tinker with the rewards in the Krypt and find a good balance that keeps everybody happy and digging Mortal Kombat 11 as much as I am.

Destin Legarie is a Senior Features Producer at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter or watch him stream regularly on Twitch

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