Online Games with Micro-Transactions
When talking about the video game industry, it is clear that it has two significant problems. The first is the lack of originality. The sequels of sequels of sequels. Or the remakes who retake a big franchise and eradicate it, trashing it with the right name of it.
This is nothing new, but with the higher dimension that the video game market has reached, it is becoming increasingly visible. I’m not going to name names, but I’m sure that by reading these lines you all have in mind more than one case where the game has been losing quality with each new delivery. Or games that are just clones of successful titles developed poorly and in haste to take advantage of the pull.
The second big problem is always blamed piracy. Those users who do not give any economic value to the game and, most of the time, are only attracted by the possibility of getting them for free. Let us not deceive ourselves, even if the price of video games were halved; I do not believe that piracy rates were significantly reduced. Put, the one who wants to buy a game will, and the one who doesn’t want to spend a hard time don’t care if the game is worth 30 or 60 euros. He’s going to copy it anyway.
It is at this point that microtransactions enter, as a way of giving added value without penalizing the original game user. Initially, the truth is that they have been misunderstood. Microtransactions are seen as a way of” charging for everything ” to users, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.
Planteemoslo of the following form. Imagine a game like ‘Need for Speed’ (or any other car racing title). We can buy the complete game with, for example, 20 cars and ten circuits, or we can get a reduced version of it, at a small price or, directly, free of charge. Such a release would only serve to play online and would allow us to choose just three car models.
In this way, the seed is already planted. On the one hand, by online checking, we prevent the pirate from using his game in multiplayer races. On the other hand, the player who has a free version can end up “biting” and acquiring new features (a better car, a new circuit to be able to play locally…) and in this way, each user would pay only for what they are going to use.
Okay, seen this way it seems like an excessive price for a couple of decorations, but take it differently: for a modest amount (say 5 euros) we buy a series of” credits ” that we can use to purchase accessories and parts for the car, or new circuits. And when we get tired of these pieces, we can sell them by recovering some of the paid (as if it were a second-hand market, so we recover some of the money, since the other part is considered “spent” by the use and enjoyment we have made of the virtual pieces).
Or, to put it even better, imagine creating your piece and being able to put it on sale in the virtual game market, getting credits for it. In this way, virtual content creators would be rewarded for their work. We could even make it available free of charge to other users so that those who do not want to scratch their pockets still have access to some objects.
And even if some of you think it’s science fiction, this model already works in some virtual communities, such as ‘Habbo Hotel,’ a kind of chat for teenagers. In which we can create a character for free and have our room to invite other users to, but we have to pay for the rest of the extras (furniture, paintings, etc.) through the corresponding SMS.
This gives rise to a massive exchange market, and it is enough to take a stroll through the rooms of ‘Habbo Hotel’ to see that the marketing of ‘furnis’ (as these objects are called) is of the most entertaining. And it is evident that in online titles such as’ World of Warcraft,’ the sale of exclusive characters, weapons and mounts is an essential driver of the game’s internal economy.
I sincerely believe that, if applied well, this formula can not only reduce the initial costs for the final consumer but also lead to a fairer form of remuneration. This micro-payment system cannot be applied to all games (it is more focused on online titles), but I think it has a future.
And what do you think about it? Do you believe that, well used, this content payment system can have a future?