When done right, MTX options can be fun for players and profitable for the company. The problem is that they are rarely done right, as greed so often takes over. A good example is the last few Call of Duty games. They like to start the loot box system with cosmetics only and assure players that loot box only usable items will never happen. Only for them to be added months later as they realize how much money they can make from it. Sure controversy always ensues but who cares, these decision makers don't have a care in the world for people who complain, they raking in billions.
If you want to be on the leader-boards and be a high level competitive player, there's only one micro-transaction you're allowed to have. ($1 monthly membership to "Stellar Exploration Corps.") Meanwhile, on another site like Indiegogo, there would be a number of digital assets offered as rewards for funders. One could pay $25, $75, $200, $1000 dollars to become an interstellar tycoon, alien spy, or a space pirate lord -- basically, you pay money to have a chance to inhabit the world as an important person. These "funder" characters would then have access to a catalog of conventional micro-transactions. In doing so, they would be funding and building content for the competitive player base. Basically, becoming NPCs from the POV of the competitive players.
Naturally, "Stellar Exploration Corps" members wouldn't be allowed to trade items or currency with the other characters. ("Conflict of Interest.")
Even with industry leading terms, the publisher isn't making the game. The culture and leadership of the development studio will dictate whether and how they crunch, who has a creative voice, and how developers are compensated. There are plenty of publishers and alternative funding sources that allow for good outcomes for developers who want to make games in an ethical way. It's not clear what Modern Wolf's key differentiator is.
Hmmm. I would love to know what the difference is. Devs get to define gameplay, but company gets to enforce microtransactions?
I'm having trouble with the general concept of labeling something "ethical", as thought it were a binary quality akin to "kosher".
My understanding is that "ethics" classically refers to any particular set of moral principles. That would include Mahatma Gandhi's, Adolf Hitler's, and Jeff Bezos'.
So I'm assuming that usages such as "ethical game development" imply adherence to some particular, unstated ethic. But I'm not clear what ethic they're implying.