Simply put, microtransactions in video games are a form of e-commerce; a monetization model that allows for gamers to buy different virtual, in game items in exchange for money, through the internet. This type of monetization model found in video games is one that has grew only very recently, and is rapidly growing and gaining success. and how they are good and bad for the gaming world.
The impacts of microtransactions on gaming content have successive impacts on most gamers. These impacts are both negative and positive. For example, as mentioned earlier, if microtransactions result in a lack of base content in a game, those playing the game will naturally be disappointed, unhappy or bored with the game, which is clearly a negative impact that microtransactions can cause on gamers. The same goes for when a game is “pay to win,” in which those who pay for microtransactions ultimately have a better experience than those who do not. Those who do not pay for microtransactions in “pay to win” games can have very limited experience, as opposed to those who do, and this creates an unbalance in the game as many gamers believe it is unfair that some can simply buy their way to success in a game. Subsequently, many gamers will be left unhappy with these games, and are therefore less inclined to play them. However, microtransactions can of course have positive impacts on gamers, as if they did not, they would not be around. Taking into example again the cosmetic microtransactions featured in the game “League of Legends,” these cosmetic skins have a very positive impact on gamers, as they offer a cooler aesthetic way in which to play the game, which of course makes gamers more happy with the game. Since this does not interfere with the game itself in anyway, gamers happily purchase and make use of these cosmetic items, and therefore have a better time. On top of this positive impact on gamers, microtransactions are often a great solution for those who do not have the time to spend on earning different in game content for free, as they might have jobs, families and other things that take up most of their time. Microtransactions therefore speed things up and offer them a shortcut that allows them to have access to certain things that would otherwise take many, many hours to acquire freely through playing the game; hours that they simply cannot spend on the game. This allows for gamers that are very occupied and do not have much time to spend on games, to still enjoy games as much as those who do have the time.
Microtransactions comes in many different forms that vary here are some of the most popular forms of microtransactions.
A purchasable in game case or pack that contains random in game items, ranging from very common, worthless prizes to very rare, highly valued prizes. This is essentially gambling in the form of microtransactions, as the chances of getting a highly valued, rare item are usually very, very small. Despite this, the sheer possibility of receiving a highly valued item entices many gamers to buy these cases/packs. Examples of this are found in the two very popular games: EA Sports FIFA, and Counterstrike. EA Sports FIFA offers randomly generated cards of football players in it’s purchasable packs, while the latter offers purchasable keys that open randomly dropped free cases, containing in game weapon skins (Microtransactions: The good, the bad and the ugly).
– DLC (Downloadable Content)
DLC (Downloadable Content) is additional content found in video games, that usually has to be purchased for a certain fee. This content is most often made as an optional add on to already existing in game content, although in some poor cases, game developers choose to bar content away under DLC so that players feel that the default game lacks content, and are inclined to buy DLC if they wish to have more content (Microtransactions: The good, the bad and the ugly).
To conclude, microtransactions or in game payments have become more and more frequently seen within games, due to their immense profitability, dominance over traditional pay to play games without microtransactions, and success with game developers and many gamers as seen previously. However, this has not come without backlash, as many gamers heavily criticize microtransactions, especially those that make game content limited and short for those who do not use microtransactions, and those that convert games into “pay to win.” These things ultimately ruin game experiences for those who do not use them. Additionally, they pose the threat of overspending without realising it; especially with children or teens, as was seen in my survey. Despite this, many microtransactions get it right and do not interfere with game content or player experiences negatively, but are simply an addon that allow for people to have more fun and better experiences with those games. This is something that all games and their developers should strive for; microtransactions that are both profitable, and improve the quality of a game for all players, not ones that decrease the quality of a game for players that do not use them. Of course, due to the criticism and problems that microtransactions have and face, there is much to improve. Should more game developers strive to improve their microtransaction models however, so that they’re both profitable and balanced, as well as not a danger to those who are prone to overspending without realising it, those who now criticize and dislike them, could ultimately support their presence and use.