Evils of Microtransactions

Evils of Microtransactions

It is a well-known fact that games can have dark sides. That is not to say that games have nothing positive to give. They are a great source of entertainment. But when one gets addicted to that specific source of entertainment, it becomes a problem.

The video gaming industry is perhaps the biggest in the world right now. One in three young people (roughly a million) plays for an hour or more every day. That makes it a highly lucrative industry, and it is only pushing video game giants to pour in more games in the market, and just like any other business, they are not worried about the human cost that comes with all the money they rake in.

From the birth of the Gameboy in 1989 to the present day, gaming has grown exponentially. They are the most significant and fastest-growing entertainment industry with roughly double the turnover of Hollywood. The revenue model of the new generation of Free-to-Play games (League of Legends, Fortnite, Apex Legend, etc.) is to grab users’ attention, hold it and motivate them to make ‘in-game’ purchases via microtransactions. With a turnover of about 160 billion dollars in 2020 alone, they are succeeding in their goals.

This enormous market success is due to a combination of the target group, medium, and means. Young people are increasingly in the focus of game developers. They have the most free time, are usually the most pliable, and can remain gamer for the longest. Screens of all shapes and sizes have infiltrated the home and often even the bedroom and are omnipresent.

Behavior manipulation

In terms of resources, the industry uses a growing range of psycho- and neurobiological influencing methods. Numerous other techniques wrap the gamer in a virtual simulation structure. For example, loot boxes, treasure chests can be obtained while playing (for a fee). Games are no longer just games. Behind the scenes, countless professionals work on the manipulation of behavior. 

Games like Fortnite are apparently complex but still very simplistic. There is an arena, there are weapons, there are others, and they have to die. By playing for hours a day in, day out, my teenage spirit grew just as simplistically as a result of which I became less and less in tune with the world around me.

The high-tech billion-dollar companies producing commercial games compete in gamers’ play. Success formulas are imitated and further developed. The box of tricks with digital bait is getting more extensive and more effective. Market principles lead us through a race to the bottom to games like the modern Pied Piper of Hamelin that suck the attention and motivation of gamers away from families, school, relationships, and other areas of life. Not every family succeeds in giving these advancing cyber worlds a healthy place.

The button has to be turned, and the criticism is justified. It is crucial for parents, schools, and governments to become more aware of this phenomenon and draw up rules. If one does not actively coach young people themselves, games will gradually take over that task.

Slow Poisoning

Some might think that equating microtransactions in video games with slow poisoning is a harsh approach. But it exactly portrays what microtransactions do to gamers who are addicted. It takes away your hard-earned dollars slowly. You keep on spending three dollars here, five dollars there, and don’t even notice that it becomes a considerable amount of money when added up.

To give you a better idea, let’s take the example of a video game-like Path of Exile. It is very famous among gamers and is free to play. But if you want to make progress in the game, you need to upgrade your character’s skills. To do that, you need items and gems. You can either grind the game for hours on end or buy them from vendors using Poe currency, and you can buy poe currency within the game or from outside vendors. Either way, you will have spent few dollars on the game. And as the game keeps on progressing, without even noticing, you keep on making these small purchases. But when added up, it becomes a significant number.


The conclusion is simple. The video games industry needs to be regulated. Governments need to create similar laws through which they regulate gambling, and individuals need to make sure that their loved ones are not addicted to such games.

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