Microtransaction is growing stronger and becoming one of the most profitable business models in the gaming industry.
There was a time in the gaming industry, you only need to pay once to get the full experience, without having to spend any extra money. Over time, game developers have come up with a new business plan to have more capital to maintain and develop, which is microtransaction, or micro transactions.
This concept of micro-transactions has been around since 2001, in a social networking game called Habbo Hotel. By the end of 2005 – early 2006, Microsoft introduced its own trading system called Microsoft Points, where users can spend real money on digital goods. Since then, microtransaction has become more and more popular in the gaming industry.
For each game, it is possible that micro transactions and prices will be included in different forms, but the nature of it is unchanged. It can be considered as an essential business model for games that are released in the free form, helping game makers to have a stable source of income for future projects.
However, over time, micrortransaction has become a model for game makers to “collect” gamers’ wallets and in many different ways. There are some forms of micro transactions that become so negative that some countries in the world are forced to put it on a banned list.
Expand the content
This is a form of microtransaction through which the developers or developers convert real money of gamers into additional content for the original game, or we can call it a DLC. Usually these DLC can be sold separately or bundled with the original game (of course, at a higher price). Some sub-branches of the content expansion include:
- Expand the campaign
- Independent expansion
- DLC Multiplayer
The campaign extension and standalone extension have in common is to provide a different experience to the world, character lines, new storylines. Independent expansion is how developers can focus more on some of the prominent characters in the original game, besides the main character. For example, The Last of Us: Left Behind talks more about Ellie’s past, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy talks about Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, …
On the other hand, the campaign expansion is the content released based on the plot of the original game. It is sometimes a new land opened up on the map, an idea that complements and aligns with the main story, the main character is also preserved. For example, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine or Bloodborne: The Old Hunters.
Since 2017, the Battle Royale game genre has emerged as a powerful force in the gaming community. It has too much influence on the development of the gaming industry. However, the weakness of Battle Royale is that it is difficult to innovate. The game mostly takes place on a wide map, where players are free to do anything but rob cars, steal guns, and defeat other players to become the last survivor. Maybe each game will be more or less different, but still have to follow the most basic of Battle Royale.
Over time, the repetition of this genre leads to boredom. That’s when the Battle Pass came in, making the Battle Royale more interesting. This form of microtransaction requires gamers to pay a small amount of money in exchange for rewarded missions, sometimes real money or currency, in-game items. Players who want to receive a reward are required to complete the missions or activities that the Battle Pass requires.
Once completed, the next season’s Battle Pass will be renewed, offering missions as well as various rewards. This helps players always feel new though the gameplay mechanism does not need to change anything. The price of a Battle Pass is usually around $ 10 or more per season.
This is a form of microtransaction game companies hit psychology want to stand out of players. In online games or multiplayer games, most of us want our characters to have a unique appearance compared to the rest. Therefore, the game company has developed beauty items so that gamers can buy it, refresh their characters, through the in-game store.
Depending on the game, this form of “beautification” is developed differently. There are games that allow skins to increase their stats, but there are also games that release skins that have only a beauty function. Even if there’s no effect on a match, the skin market is still a relatively stable model of monetization for brands. The most famous is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) or Team Fortress 2.
With this type of microtransaction, players will not only beautify their weapons but also their character’s appearance. Epic Games excels in this category with Fortnite. In 2018 alone, the company earned $ 2.4 billion solely due to the sale of beauty skins. This money allowed them to reach important deals, expanding to copyrighted skins from movies or comics.
Converting digital currency in the game
Another form of microtransaction is also extremely popular today, which is converting real money into money in the game. Each game will have different ways of calling and converting from real money to digital money. For example, Fortnite is called V-buck, Clash of Clans will be called Gems or Points as in FIFA. This digital currency is used by players to trade items or any micro transactions in a game.
This is the microtransaction mechanism that caused a lot of controversy in the gaming community. It clearly divides the rich and the poor gamer. People who deposit more and more money will become stronger, more vip items and free players will never be able to catch up, despite plowing the game for a lifetime.
Besides, there are also games that allow conversion to digital currencies just to buy beauty skins. They do not affect the level and fairness in each match. There are mobile games that simply deposit real money, convert it into in-game money to remove ads.
If you play video games regularly on your phone, you probably will not find it strange to wait for time to receive rewards or wait for time to recover playing energy. This is one way for game developers to want to direct you to a microtransaction method, which is to buy money on purchase. In fact, this method has a lot of controversy involved.
Basically, it has no effect on fairness in matches or fairness between gamers. The recharge allows gamers to shorten the waiting time, have immediate access to the content packages that are waiting for the publisher’s unlock. So is that good or bad? This was difficult to determine when many gamers complained that their games were limited in power, so they could not plow the game for too long, and eventually they had to spend money to buy gaming power. They find it ridiculous that I have to buy turns for a game I’ve already spent all my money to support.
Anyway, if you are afraid to wait, the game publisher has opened the opportunity for you to experience faster, save more time by … spending money.
Perhaps we are all familiar with Loot Box, this is the focus of controversy of the gaming community as well as many countries around the world. Basically, many people consider this to be a type of disguised gambling. Players will deposit a real amount of money, then convert it into digital currency to buy Loot Box, eventually you will have to sit hoping you open something delicious. However, most of these Loot Box give players the inhibition and frustration because all items are jagged.
Whether opening Loot Box really depends on luck or not, nobody knows. But it has sparked a lot of criticism when many games intentionally rely on Loot Box, forcing gamers to recharge to open equipment to upgrade.
However, it’s undeniable that the Loot Box business model brings a lot of money. Blizzard once revealed that Loot Box deals helped them earn up to $ 1 billion in revenue. This gives them abundant capital to reinvest and develop games. Therefore, the idea of whether the Loot Box is a form of microtransaction that needs to be removed has not been solved so far.