MicroTransactions in Gaming

The player-controlled laser cannon shoots the ...Years ago, I would have told you that micro transactions were going to fade fast. Nobody wants to constantly spend money on a game. I grew up in a time, when you purchased a cartridge or a disk to install a game on a computer and you never paid for it again. Alas, with the advent of always-on, always-there internet connectivity, that has changed enormously. Back in the 80s, were ecstatic to see the newest game cartridge for the Atari be delivered. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pitfall, and Missile Command were amongst my favorites.

Then came the x86 machines and the discs to install those games. I remember fancying a slew of things like Commander Keen, and SSI’s Eye of the Beholder, and Secret of the Silver Blades. Then in the mid 90s came DOOM. This game changed everything from a first person perspective, then the onslaught of MMOs followed suite with such games as Star Wars Galaxies and World of Warcraft. I bought into the subscription model – $14.99 a month.

Star Wars: The Old RepublicNow we are into the micro-transaction point of gaming. While I enjoyed the other models, I can understand the need for such a new model in gaming. With the games constantly changing, a company has to be able to pay their developers to managed, debug, and update the game to keep it fresh. Games aren’t simply the way they were in the 80s. People want an ever-changing environment. They build relationships with other gamers, and are willing to fork out their hard-earned cash for new game content.

With a micro-transaction game, you typically can download the game, and play for free, or possibly with some initial one-time, or small subscription charge depending on the game. You can then purchased power-ups, weapons, skins, expansions, character slots, etc. via an online payment system that typically sells you credits of some sort. Crisis coins for Infinite Crisis, Cartel Coins for SW The Old Republic, Turbine points for Lord of the Rings Online – you get the picture. Once you make your purchase, you can spend them how you like.

I for one am willing to shed out a few dollars for something I truly enjoy, but the micro-transaction gaming environment also allows me to return the 90s when companies put out free-to-play limited versions of their games. You could get the first level or two of Doom for free back in the day. This was great for us gamers, because if you didn’t enjoy the game at that point, you didn’t have to waste money on it. The same thing goes for micro-transaction games now. Riot GamesTypically most games are now free-to-play such as Lord of the Rings Online, Infinite Crisis, and Star Wars The Old Republic. You simply pay for what you play. It’s a great model, and profitable.

One look at Riot Games, and you can clearly see why this model works. They made $624 million last year alone. SW The Old Republic pulled in $139 million, and World of Tanks pulled in $372 million. Micro-simply allow publishers to reach a larger player based than any other type of medium, and they are here to stay. I like this model now – I get new content, the game continues to evolve and expand, developers get paid, and everyone is a happy camper.

Now, I got to get out of here and go play Infinite Crisis – Gaslight Batman or Poison Ivy? – – Decisions, Decisions

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