Over the past few years, there have been significant advancements in the field of video games. Whether it be graphics that make you rub your eyes in disbelief, virtual reality masks or the downfall of physical copies of games, the landscape is ever changing. Things look set to continue to evolve in the near future as well, with the next generation of consoles being released very soon. Amid these positive steps forward however, there has also been some more controversial developments – none more so than the growth of microtransactions.
These microtransactions borrow somewhat from the real money live games of the online casino world, offering players the chance to invest real cash in games after they have already bought them. These microtransactions come in many different forms. It all depends on what sort of game we are talking about.
Sports games for instance, may offer players the chance to purchase virtual players to improve their team for real cash. Shoot-em-ups in contrast normally include microtransactions which allow the player to unlock special guns, camos or new game modes. Even RPG games are not exempted from this recent trend. In this case, microtransactions can be used to unlock special extra quest lines or cool bonus items.
On the face of it, it’s hard to see why microtransactions have been so controversial in recent times. No player is forced to buy any extra content after already purchasing the full game and if people do want to do this, surely that’s their right? Well, the counter argument is that some games are weighted well in favour of people who pay for extra content which can seem unfair, particularly if it has an competitive online option.
But are these microtransactions here to stay? The answer appears to be… maybe.
Video game developers will certainly be lobbying for them to stay around as they have proved to be a remarkable profitable addition to their coffers. The video game industry as a whole has expanded to previously unimaginable financial heights over the past few years. A significant part of this growth has been the effect of microtransactions. Although the majority of these transactions are only a few dollars a go, this soon adds up if all of a large games player base is doing it. Similarly, they can add up for a specific player without them realising because they are so small.
However, one aspect of microtransactions that are in danger of being lost are ‘loot boxes’. In 2019 Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a Congress bill that planned to outlaw the use of bonus boxes with weighted odds of success. Although the bill is still stuck in a US legislative logjam, it is not out of the realm of possibility that loot boxes will indeed be outlawed soon. China has already banned the practice. That was all the way back in 2017 as well. In conclusion then, while microtransactions are indeed here to stay, do not be surprised if the use of loot boxes completely halts in the next few years.