Halo 5 has microtransactions - you can spend real-world money on in-game packs of virtual cards, or Requisitions, as they're called. And it looks like they're doing the business for Microsoft.
Today, Microsoft announced the Halo World Championship's prize pool had swelled to an impressive $1.7m (big by eSports standards but still nothing on the incredible amount of money up for grabs at Dota 2's The International, for example).
Microsoft's ponying up $1m, with the rest generated by a portion of money made by the sale of Halo 5 REQ Packs. Halo 5 REQ Packs come in three flavours: bronze, silver and gold. A silver pack costs £1.59 and a gold pack costs £2.39. (You can't buy a bronze pack with real money.)
We don't know exactly how much money Halo 5 microtransactions have made so far (publishers tend to refuse to talk about that sort of thing), but it's enough that $700,000 has found its way to the Halo World Championship prize pool. That's just under half a million quid.
Love them or hate them, microtransactons bring in the big bucks for publishers, which is why every game these days is riddled with them - despite the negativity they often generate.
Some premium games handle microtransactions better than others, of course. For every PayDay 2 there's a Guild Wars 2. I found Halo 5's microtransactions to be woven smartly into the eye-catching Warzone multiplayer mode on the part of developer 343.
From my Halo 5 review:
Your level mid-match only unlocks the ability to spawn the equivalent Requisition. To actually spawn it in, you'll also need the appropriate amount of Energy. And once you've spent your Energy, say, three points of it, it's gone.
Your REQ level and Energy is driven by player and team performance, so you can't, for example, start a match in a Scorpion tank. You'll need to play for a decent amount of time and do well enough to be at the appropriate REQ Level and have enough Energy to call a tank in. And, of course, you'll need a Scorpion tank Requisition in your inventory.
It's a deft act of balancing. The use of ultra powerful weapons and vehicles comes at a cost not just to your current Energy mid-match, but also your Requisition inventory. And you can't just buy individual REQs, handing over a tenner, say, for five Scorpion tanks. By doing the FIFA Ultimate Team and Hearthstone thing of selling packs of cards that only guarantee a certain number of a certain quality of card, you can't brute force your way to the vehicle or gun you want with wads of cash.
Microsoft said the Halo 5 eSports prize pool is growing daily, so it'll no doubt swell even further by the time the finals comes around on 1st March 2016. The UK qualifiers, which begin in December, are organised by Gfinity, if you fancy a punt.
Meanwhile, 343 just put out a hefty update for Halo 5 that adds Big Team Battle mode and four maps designed for it.