By now most gamers are familiar with the term “micro-transaction” and cringe every time they hear it. For the few readers who do not know what a micro-transaction is, it is usually a small fee in a game that gives gamers an advantage if they purchase it. Games started introducing this with the creation of the mobile market, and it deemed to be so successful for mobile companies that AAA titles and companies started implementing them into their games. This creation of micro-transaction has caused the online gaming world to be very unbalanced, and companies are now creating excuses to justify the use of micro transactions.
The industry that immediately comes to mind when discussing micro-transactions is the mobile gaming industry. Many apps are guilty for using and abusing this concept, which may confuse consumers. People download apps because they are “free,” but the companies behind the apps limit the consumer until they purchase in-game power-ups to continue on with the game, or to give the player an advantage. Candy Crush Saga is guilty when it comes to this, as they limit the player to 5 lives every so often, which regenerate over time. The player can actually purchase more lives if they are eager enough to continue on with the game.
The popularity of downloadable content (DLC) in the AAA market is one of the big push factors when it comes to promoting micro-transactions. People are willing to pay for additional content, even for a mobile game that they only will play on the bus. The “its just a dollar” that justifies the purchases eventually turns into ten dollars, or even twenty. The problem with this is that micro-transactions are not just gimmicks made by the gaming industry, but they are actually sucking in consumers’ money. Companies actually make more money through micro-transactions on free games than making a game $2.99 with all of the content. What ever happened to the “lite” versions of apps that were created to substitute to a demo and if the person liked it they could upgrade to the full version. Companies like EA are even taking advantage of the mobile market due to the income it generates. It is a milestone for gaming to enter the mobile market, but the creation of pay to continue gameplay has ruined it.
Rockstar is one of the most beloved gaming companies out there, and they have created some of the greatest open-world games to ever hit the market. With the release of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013 they announced that the online portion would have micro-transactions so players could purchase in-game money. This announcement, combined with the lack of money in the game, sparked an outburst of glitching money to players in the game. Rockstar then had to shut down their servers to fix this problem because it was ruining the so called “in game economy,” which to this day most gamers still do not see how there is an economy. This also raised the question that if gamers purchased the same amount of money that was glitched via micro-transactions, would Rockstar have to shut down the server? Most likely not. The creation of micro-transactions into the AAA market not only destroys the gaming environment, but it creates a backlash from gamers that causes constant maintenance by the creators of the games.
There is no question that micro-transactions drive the gaming economy, but companies are focusing too much on micro-transactions as a way to make money, and add-ons are becoming more and more common in the gaming industry. People feed into this and pay for lives, or extra content, even though they should have the right to it for purchasing the app. The ethics of the gaming industry is slowly degenerating due to the fact of greediness by companies. Games are not made primarily for the joy of the gamer, but rather for the money.
Do you like micro-transactions? Have you ever purchased one? Let us know in the comments below!