How the Removal of Microtransactions Affected Shadow of War

Abbey Freehill
4 min readAug 25, 2020


Middle Earth: Shadow of War is an action RPG, hack and slash open-world game by Warner Bros. and Monolith Productions. Moreover, Shadow of War is the sequel of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor which was released around 3 years prior. The game has revamped its gameplay such as an expanded version of the nemesis system where you can have followers. Also, it introduced new characters named Eltariel and Baranor which you can play through its story expansions in the definitive edition or DLC.

Shadow of War revolves around Talion, a ranger of Gondor who has the spirit of the elf-lord Celebrimbor in his body. From what happened in Shadow of Mordor, the game will continue with Talion and Celebrimbor going to Mount Doom to forge a new Ring of Power. He will be using it to dominate Uruks and build his army. With that, he will come to a stalemate with Celebrimbor as he wanted to help the Gondorians while Celebrimbor wanted to prioritize the Palantir which would be dangerous if left in Sauron’s hands.

Unlike its prequel Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War received mixed reviews. Its reception from the gaming community was positive with regards to its gameplay. However, during its release, it received backlash from the players because of the microtransactions. Although at first, it was doing well, sales-wise, but it didn’t last for long. In the end, months after its release, the game developers decided to remove the microtransactions for good. It may be a good thing for the players, but did it save the game?

The Microtransactions

When the game was released, there was lots of confusion with the microtransactions. For one, it was questioned whether they need to pay for the Uruks. There were also talks about having a “real ending” as a microtransaction. It baffled a lot of players which made the situation worse between the players and the developers. Aside from that, the loot box system was confusing and at some point, you don’t see the purpose of it.

The loot chests give out Uruks and gear and the rarity of its content depends on the type of loot chest you got. In the game, there are silver, gold, and mythril loot chests that you can purchase for mirian or gold coins. There are also Vendetta loot chests that can be attained by killing Uruks and Conquest loot chests that can be attained by conquering fortresses.

However, these chests can be deemed useless at the fact that you can attain the things that these loot chests offer. You can dominate and gather Uruks anytime and anywhere, you can get high-quality gears as well. In fact, there is a surplus of it that players would just keep on destroying their gears because either it has lower stats or it doesn’t fit their playstyle. Basically, all these hullabaloos are skippable and you can enjoy the game without it.

Because of this, the game experienced a fall in its sales. According to the sources of Kotaku, although the game rose to the top during its release, it immediately fell by 12 spots the month after. Moreover, the game sold significantly less than its prequel Shadow of Mordor on PC. Shadow of War sold roughly 952,284 while Shadow of Mordor sold 4,468,234 copies.

The Removal of Microtransactions

Six months later, Warner Bros. and Monolith decided to remove the microtransactions in the game. Saying that the option to purchase Uruks is weakening the Nemesis system which is the heart of the game. Moreover, it compromises the player’s experience with the game’s story and reduces the immersion of the game.

This may be good news, however, we can’t deny that it is a little too late to reach that decision. Why is there a need to wait for six months before they get rid of it? Moreover, although this is good news, it was too late for the game to go back into the ranks. Even when the definitive edition of the game was released about a year later.

It is a shame that a good game was brought down by microtransactions and decisions that arrived a little too late.

Originally published at on August 25, 2020.