The gaming industry has grown from being worth USD 7.98 billion in 2000 to more than USD 137 billion in 2018. Gaming is now more than a hobby for people; it’s a business, and a booming one at that. Along with the traditional PC- and console-based gaming markets, mobile gaming has truly come into its own thanks to the advances in mobile technology.
Today, digital versions of all classical games – card games, board games, even children’s games – are available on your mobile phone. Great care is lavished on their design and gameplay structure. The gaming industry is experimenting with hundreds of new trends to see which are profitable and beneficial in the long term. One of the current trends generating a lot of debate is the advent of paid online gaming. This is usually conducted through micro-transactions, and is fast becoming a feature of all platforms of digital gaming.
Detractors claim it reduces the gaming experience due to unfair advantages that it confers through its model. However, there are many games that do not conduct micro-transactions, so the gaming industry will simply have a sub-genre of games that allows and encourages micro-transactions. Further, there are many games that have had an inbuilt pay-to-play mechanism within them. This includes games like poker, backgammon, chess, and rummy online.
Games such as checkers and chess can be made more competitive by including a paying element. That aside, micro-transactions have worked for certain mainstream games such as Overwatch, while garnering mixed results for others. Still, there are some undeniable advantages that micro-transactions confer on these games in particular and online gaming in general. Let’s look at some of them.
- It adds to game richness: To create loot boxes that do not alter the competitive edge of the game, developers have come up with loot boxes that are purely ornamental. These are basically places within the game where equipments and items are stored and can be purchased or exchanged by the players. Think of it as a treasure chest within the game, only there are many of them for different levels and costs. This way, the players level up in the game naturally, but they look as good as the actual gamers who pay for them. This is a fair trade, which benefits the game by generating a steady stream of revenue that can be used to enhance gameplay and take care of prime maintenance. But some games still offer loot boxes of equipment for the characters in the game as they progress in levels. This helps the player perform better, in turn improving the game stats. For these, micro-transactions sometimes operate on a very low margin, thereby ensuring fairness when it comes to competitive gaming.
- It adds as fun cash winning: For certain games, especially those on a mobile platform, micro-transactions are a viable source of. Usually, mobile games are free to purchase and is, therefore, one of the ways for developers to generate revenue. This goes to enhance the gaming experience, dealing with online play, and make it smoother. More content is almost always created with the backing of micro-transactions.
- It enhances gameplay: It may sound counterintuitive, but micro-transactions can actually make a game more competitive. This is because players can use in-app purchases to enhance their skills after putting in hours towards bettering themselves. So, the divide between players can alter drastically, given the purchases they can make. This also has the unintended effect of ensuring that virtual items have a stake in real-world economics, potentially opening up another speculative market but with the additional substructure merging with the art market. Recently, equipment sold in a popular online PC game was valued at more than a million USD. Players can even trade items, generating another version of a market within the gaming environment.
Micro-transactions have generated very strong arguments, both for and against. But it’s clearly an economic model that is paying off – last year, leading gaming company Blizzard announced revenues of USD 4 billion from micro-transactions alone. With the rise in popularity of paid gaming, the future of the gaming industry looks rosy.
Micro-transactions not only add a layer of answerability towards the game and its quality, they are also a great way to ensure that gamers get exactly what they pay for in terms of experience and gameplay. For example, witness how players from all over the world are still interested in simple card games, and play rummy online real money, which can now be exchanged among players and even remitted to the platform hosting them.
The practice serves to enhance gameplay and ensures a competitive thrill, which forms the very basic theme of any engrossing game.