Are microtransactions within games the standard for the future?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
If you own a smartphone, especially one that runs one of the most popular mobile operating systems out there, then you’ve probably got a few games on there. Of those games, you probably paid for at least one of them. Or maybe you didn’t. There are a few titles out there that are free right out of the gate, but still pack in enough features that playing them is more than worth it. But, more often than not, a free app is only free at the start. But if you want to dig deeper into the app and experience more features of the game, then you’ve got to get your credit card ready for those microtransactions.
It’s actually quite interesting to see where gaming has come from, and how it’s evolving in the mobile market. Developers know that there’s several different types of gamers out there, and more accurately, several different types of consumers. There are those who don’t mind at all paying a premium price for an app or game right from the start, while there are others who don’t want to pay the high price from the start but don’t mind paying a little here and there in the future. And then there are folks who don’t want to pay anything at all. So, how do you tailor to each of these people, and hope that they’ll all access your app? Small payments.
We’re seeing a microtransaction surge as game developers jump on the bandwagon. In-app purchases can be anything, even from small elements that barely change the game, all the way to major pieces of entertainment that add playability to a title. Want a new level pack? That’s a purchase. These in-app purchases can really bring home quite a bit of money for developers, especially if the up-front purchase of the title isn’t all that high. Then again, as microtransactions are still flourishing today, it doesn’t seem to matter how much the game costs initially – people are still willing to pay a little bit more to add something to the game.
And is that where it all comes down to? As a developer, is it about the options for gamers? Instead of shipping an entire game for the general public, developers remove certain aspects of the title and charge gamers to access it. Or, they plan on releasing “stage one,” knowing full well that “stage two” and “stage three” will cost an additional dollar (or more) to access. These are the norm, now, and it seems that gamers are ready for this evolutionary step.
But, where can “free to play” titles go from here? Are these microtransactions just a step in something that’s coming down the pipe? Or are these the standard, which will be in place for the foreseeable future? Depending on the cost of these additions to our favorite games, it’s probably the latter. For gamers, it’s just something that’s become the rule, rather than the exception. And perhaps if developers can balance these smaller charges with free updates, or even free additions, then it will continue to be a prosperous method for both devs, as well as gamers.
But, what do you think of microtransactions? Do you prefer that method to accessing your apps? Or do you think it’s just one more way for developers and publishers to get money out of your pocket? Do you think developers should charge extra for multiplayer gaming? Let me know in the comments below what you think.