Are Microtransactions the Future of Casual Gaming?

There is a lot of talk in game development, as well as among casual games fans, about how games will be paid for from here on out. Games where you pay to own the software in its entirety have been the norm for decades now, and for hardcore games this is still very much the case. However, for people who like to play casual games on platforms like their Android or Apple phones and tablets, the idea of games that are free to download at a base level and then cost small sums of money to upgrade or get power ups have become quite commonplace.

casual gaming

Monetising Your Game
The knee jerk reaction for many people who enjoy games was originally that microtransactions were a bad thing, and done simply so developers could continue to milk money out of players who became addicted to their games. This kind of fear was that the strategy used by drug dealers was employed – give it to them for free to start with, they will start to pay when they realise they need our product. In actual fact, the microtransaction theory is far less ‘Walter White’ than that. Game developers on platforms like the Android phone or iPhone know that the key to success is for their games to be popular and played among friends. If a game is good, this can happen organically, but with so many free games on the market for the game a developer releases to compete with, they need to ensure their game is noticed.

Micro Transactions Vs Ad Support
Some free games are developed as pet projects or hobbies by learner developers, but others are developed by professional software houses that need an income from what they produce in order to stay afloat. To compete with the free games out there, many of them found the best thing to do was offer their games for free, but include ads. Ads annoyed some players, so a new solution was sought.

This is how microtransactions came into being. Microtransactions allow players to play the game for free, but they have to pay certain time penalties in game (like waiting a day for a new thing to be built) and can’t access certain special inventory items unless they buy in game currency with real money. When the player gives money using their phone or computer, they can purchase in game currency, which usually has a name suited to the setting of the game (like ‘gems’, ‘bucks’ or ‘coins’) which allows them to make things happen faster, purchase exclusive content or buy power ups. They are called microtransactions because even for one dollar, a player can usually buy a fair amount of in game money.

Microtransactions actually offer a lot of advantages over ad support. Players who do not want to spend any money play the game free and accept the time and inventory penalties, whereas those who really love the games don’t mind sparing a dollar here and there to have a better experience. And nobody has to watch any ads. It has been said for a couple of years now that this will be the future of gaming, and it is hard to argue as to why that would be such a bad thing.