Monday, July 8, 2024

You PAID HOW MUCH for your game? Blame microtransactions

A couple packs here, some DLC can make your gaming experience a costly affair



It starts off so innocently

You started playing a hidden gem, a diamond in the rough. Before you realize it, you’ve invested 25 hours - or more - into the game experience. You hit the e-store, just for a trinket that can express your personal touch on a character. However, you end up with just a pound or a couple dollars for an in-game item. 

Then, there’s a story expansion for just $20. The DLC promises to expand the already epic experience to a new level. Plus, go ahead and snag the free in-game skins. 

Look! There’s also a season pass! 

Suddenly, you’ve dropped at least $300 on one single video game! 

You may laugh and think I’m joking, but I’m being honest.

Microtransactions have forever changed the video game landscape. Before microtransactions were a thing, many video games were sold as standalone experiences. Yet, with Bethesda’s “Oblivion” horse armor DLC, the floodgates were opened for publishers and developers to keep making money on a title post-release.

The Bait:

Video game publishers are in the business to make as much money as possible. They are focused on their bottom line. Money. Manna. Loot.

Before MT, a publisher would be compensated for the initial sale. Afterward, there was no way to earn additional funds after the initial sale. 

For consumers, they may have wanted additional content, but there was a cost-efficient way for publishers to do this without additional product runs, distribution and retail packaging.

Enter digital content. 

Now, publishers can continue to earn revenue post-release. The customers can keep the experience going for just a few dollars more. The publisher gets to release additional content (or unlock content already instead of the game - link here) and earn revenue. They will increase profit margins by getting sales without disclosing production, physical media and distribution costs eating into the final sales tally.

With a business model like this, publishers can earn so much more by selling the same piece of software repeatedly.

Consumers are enticed for the low prices for new content, but don’t realize they are being hooked. 

The Target:

The average consumer is likely unaware to the numerous strategies to get them to part ways with their funds. As stated earlier, most businesses are in business to make money. They are very skilled on ways to make money. 

Those weekly deals on multiplayer titles or popular video games with all sorts of content is there to lure the consumer to buy the game. In-game ads, especially in free-to-play video games, bombarded you with many extras. It’s hard to pass on making your game grind easier with just a couple of bucks.

The Tally:

Look at your game collection, physically and digitally. Focus on the games you play the most. My daughter loves all things Sims. Between EA sending me game / DLC codes and our purchases, she’s dumped at least $900 into a now “free” game. 

As soon as a new expansion or pack is released, she wants it.

Companies know this. 

Rockstar Games will take 10 years to make a new game and reap dividends for years to come.

Yes, video games offer an escape, but, if you’re not careful, the extra content on a cheap - and especially free-to-play game - could cost you much more than you realize.

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