Microtransactions in Video Games


  • Microtransactions

Microtransactions in the video game world (or micropayments in the life of every day) are paid transactions to purchase a digital good low unit value. In video games, microtransactions are sometimes the basis of an economic model. Often used in online games, mobile games, microtransactions or free-to-play games are becoming increasingly popular and develop into different types of games to the point that they affect the AAA, taking small scale, the point may become the model for the future.

Although the microtransactions are considered by the general public as a recent economic model, this technique dates back to many years, to the point where specialized sites are unable to agree, what title to incorporate microtransactions in Prime. Do pay the players regularly is a concept as old as the game itself, and to refer to the old economic models that can be compared for some to microtransactions as Arcade for example.

If microtransactions are present in video games, is to address the costs of production of video games that are more and more big, and since 2013 it is difficult to find a game that contains no microtransactions, so these are present in all the games people. Microtransactions are present in the games free or paid, the AAA and the independent titles and in solo or multiplayer games. Among these microtransactions and games using them, there is a key point which is the “”barrier of good sense”” of the developers: from when a game becomes a pay-to-win because of its microtransactions?

Finally, there are various microtransactions. There is buying direct and indirect purchasing. If the direct purchase is appreciated by the players, the indirect purchase is often characterized by the loot boxes giving random results. It is sort of a microtransaction or we do not know precisely what will be achieved.

  • The loot boxes

The “”loot boxes”” or “”chests to loot”” in french, are virtual objects present in some video games and they contain items like the personalization of objects, new characters, improvements to games and much even more. The loot boxes can be free or paid and unlockable via a key or not.

First overview on games like CS – GO in the 2010s, the TCG or free-to-play games on mobile phones, the loot boxes integrate more and more with the big productions. These big games, called triple-A (or AAA) often contain some other paid content and exclusive packs sold only the first days, collectors editions, the season pass, and the DLC.

Now known to players for many years, the loot boxes have become “”gambling video game””. The principle is simple, the player buys one or more loot boxes and get so random content, with the pleasure to open for loot boxes by the dozens and sometimes hundreds. Obviously the content of these loot boxes is completely digital and own the game in question. The barrier between simple digital cash and gambling is sometimes thin and some games even abuse their unequal players by creating a paywall and turning it into real pay-to-win. So the loot boxes end up by having a real influence on the gameplay of a game and play awhile sometimes turns into real economic investment.

Instead of microtransactions, the loot boxes do not know what we will get, or else just give us an idea. For example, some boxes will contain items that are numbered from 1 to 20 of a game on a total list of 100, leaving us to see a part of available in this specific box loot drops. These random mechanical are not reminiscent of gambling casinos.

Become a true commercial asset, the loot boxes are sometimes offered for free after the launch of a game by the way some time daily on and unlocking challenges before being available for purchase later. The loot boxes are a commercial success when we see the results of several big publishers like Ubisoft or Activision-Blizzard, who, the loot boxes represent about half of the turnover. The loot boxes end up being responsible for the creation of a real economy parallel to the game. Some very rare loot can reach exorbitant prices on “”trading”” platforms.”