Mortal Kombat 1’s Monetization Issues – What is Going on?

As is traditional for WB Games releases, Mortal Kombat 1 has come under fire for its monetization model.

Posted By | On 24th, Nov. 2023

Mortal Kombat 1’s Monetization Issues – What is Going on?

It’s a story as old as time- well, not exactly, but old enough that we’ve all grown sick of it. A AAA game launches, is acclaimed for the actual content it delivers, but then quickly ends up coming under fire for its monetization model. Certain publishers fall foul of this more often than other, and WB Games is certainly one of the ones to have fostered that reputation. The latest game coming from the publisher to have drawn criticism for its monetization is Mortal Kombat 1, but what exactly is it that the fighter has been catching flak for?

We’ve sadly got to a point where microtransactions are taken for granted in most games, especially those that have an online focus, but Mortal Kombat 1 has nonetheless managed to upset its community on numerous occasions, even though it hasn’t been that long since the game came out. In late October, for instance, WB Games and NetherRealm Studios released a new paid Halloween-themed Fatality and priced it at 1,200 Dragon Krystals, the in-game currency that has to be purchased with real money. Since there’s no way for players to purchase 1,200 Dragon Krystals exactly, the closes option is to purchase 1,250 of them, which costs $10.

$10 for a Fatality is a ridiculous price no matter how you cut it, and sure enough, Mortal Kombat 1 ignited a fair bit of backlash amongst players not long afterward. NetherRealm Studios later attempted to douse some of those flames by offering the new Thanksgiving Fatality and the upcoming Winter Fatality for free to anyone who purchased the Halloween one, while the company has also since confirmed a collective price of 1,200 Dragon Krystals for all three Seasonal Fatalities bundled together, which is considerably lower than the $30 total price many had feared for them, based on the original price of the Halloween Fatality. Clearly, then, the backlash has forced WB Games and NetherRealm to re-examine their approach in this particular instance- though sadly, it’s not the only case of Mortal Kombat 1 being let down by its monetization practices.

Take the game’s first significant DLC drop, for instance. Omni-Man arrived as Mortal Kombat 1’s first guest DLC character on November 16 (alongside Kameo fighter Tremor), and though there’s plenty to like about how the superpowered character plays and how gruesome his Fatalities are, the DLC drop is a decidedly disappointing one in other respects. For starters, there’s the fact that no alternate skins are included. That’s something that we’ve pretty much come to take for granted with Mortal Kombat DLC characters by this point, so to see Omni-Man being released with no alternate skins certainly came as a surprise. Given how the game’s monetization has been handled so far though, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those skins being sold as premium DLC at some point down the line.

mortal kombat 1 cyrax

Beyond that, there’s also the fact that the Omni-Man DLC doesn’t come with the Omni-Man announcer pack, which has to be purchased separately for a hefty $10 price. That’s a shocking enough decision by WB Games and NetherRealm on its own, but when you take into account the fact that the announcer pack is costlier than the actual Omni-Man DLC itself (which costs $7.99), it becomes doubly so. Why the announcer pack, which sees J.K. Simmons reprising the role he plays so well in the Invincible animated show, isn’t included by default in the character DLC itself is beyond comprehension.

But that’s not all. Earlier this month, NetherRealm Studios released a Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance-inspired skin for Li Mei, something that had been heavily requested by fans ever since the game came out- though the alternate skin’s launch was marred by the fact that it was priced at $10, a downright unreasonable price for a single skin. To make matters worse, the skin was taken off sale just four days later, so not only was it overpriced, it was also a classic case of trying to exploit FOMO.

Meanwhile, recently, NetherRealm Studios also started selling character skins from Season 1 of the Invasions mode in Mortal Kombat 1’s premium store, even though the developer had previously said that if players were to miss out on skins, they would have to wait until reruns of the season to get their hands on them. Interestingly enough, players have discovered a workaround that lets you earn those skins through gameplay rather than having to purchase them by simply setting the date of your console to any time before November 6, but it’s more than likely that that exploit will be addressed expeditiously by NetherRealm Studios. In fact, those who do make use of that exploit may very well end up facing suspensions or bans as well.

On a consistent basis, NetherRealm and WB Games have made infuriating decisions with how they’ve chosen to monetize Mortal Kombat 1. Yes, the majority of these decisions have been tied to purchases that aren’t pay-to-win, but even so, it’s hard to look at the game’s model as anything but predatory. What else would you call it when NetherRealm is taking tiny, disparate elements and selling them piecemeal at ridiculously high prices, while also trying to exploit potential FOMO?

Mortal Kombat 1 - Scorpion

What’s makes this even more frustrating is that this is far from the first time WB Games has come under fire for similar practices. Over the last several years, a number of major titles by the publisher have been criticized for their monetization models, from Middle-earth: Shadow of War to both of NetherRealm Studios’ previous two titles in Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11. Time and again, these conversations have come up and been directly tied to titles released by WB Games, and yet the publisher has flagrantly stuck to its predatory practices. Viewed on its own merits, Mortal Kombat 1 is an excellent game, but like the aforementioned older releases, since it came out, the conversation surrounding it has been more about its microtransactions than about the game itself. And nobody is to blame for that other than WB Games and NetherRealm Studios.

Should we expect any meaningful improvements to be made on this front? It’s hard to say, but based on WB Games’ past conduct, it seems foolish to have much optimism on that front. Yes, the Seasonal Fatalities can collectively be purchased at a much lower price than many had previously anticipated, but that’s just a drop in the ocean- it addresses one of several egregious errors Mortal Kombat 1 has made already, and we wouldn’t be surprised if WB Games and NetherRealm continue to sell singular, fractional pieces of content at hefty prices. Given Mortal Kombat 1’s plans to be supported and updated for some time to come, and given WB Games’ decision to start prioritizing live services going forward, sadly, at this point in time, we can only see this getting worse.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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