Impact of Microstransactions

The impact of microtransactions on the video game industry has been significant. For game developers and publishers, microtransactions represent a lucrative source of revenue. In 2020, the global video game market was estimated to be worth $159.3 billion, with microtransactions accounting for a substantial portion of that figure (Global Games Market Report, 2022). For some games, microtransactions can generate millions of dollars in revenue each year. Only 5 to 20% of game communities take part in microtransactions, and the amounts they spend vary (Investopedia, 2022). Developers and publishers will look at these numbers and trends within the market to see what will potentially make them the most amount of money. With the heavy dominance of mobile gaming, thanks to the ease and accessibility of smartphones, microtransactions in games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Live service free-to-play games like Fortnite have set a prominent trend in the industry, showing how this strategy of designing, building, and marketing a game around this model of monetization is extremely lucrative. The investment over time operates similarly to subscription services for streaming platforms and the long game for these microtransaction-based games has shown the power perspective.

Some of the ethical issues players often talk or debate about when it comes down to microtransactions in games are implementation and effect. Microtransactions aren’t inherently a bad thing, but often it is the way in which it is being used within a game can be problematic. Examples of this can be games that can limit your playtime unless you pay to remove the limit, games with a battle pass that make you commit to playing to finish the pass or you risk losing out on the money you spent, and limited content that won’t ever come back so that you have to play or you risk losing out (Neely, 2021).