New Report Has Video Game Microtransactions On the Rise

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Mar 27, 2014 05:16 PM EDT

Short of Facebook's recent purchase of Oculus Rift, there might be nothing more vilified, hated, and loathed in video games, then that of the microtransaction, those teeny tiny payments of real world money to buy something that only exists within the 0's and 1's, and that arguably should've been included in a game to begin with.

Microtransactions have been the standard business practice allowing for mobile and/or casual games like Clash of Clans and Candy Crash to not only survive, but turn a profit, and in some cases outright thrive, illustrating that the marketplace may have finally settled in and accepted the microtransaction model.

That's the conclusion reached from a new study from SuperDataResearch, declaring that even console gamers have given in to the mini-payments.

According to the study, "there are currently about 23 million console gamers in the US who use microtransactions." Given the model's success, microtransactions aren't expected to go away any time soon. But why? Surely if it's so hated, it would be done away with? What's smart about a business doing anything that can in any way disappoint and isolate its consumer base? Publishers like EA and Activision have more than 350 million reasons why they're going to keep microtransactions.

That's about how much money microtransactions brought in in revenue last year, and gamers have only themselves to thank for the current state of things. And not just the "casual" gamers either who peck away on a smartphone or tablet.

According to the study, almost half of the gamers who use microtransactions play either shooter or action-adventure games, showing a preference to Xbox and PlayStation.

Case in point, the study points to Sony's recent GDC reveal, that "revenue from free-to-play titles on the PS3 and PS4 had doubled since last year," and that's with only 12 games. Publishers and developers want a slice of the hundred million dollar revenue pie, and are making moves to grab it.

"A growing number of console-based games are experimenting with microtransactions: blockbuster titles like Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar), Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft) and Borderlands (2K Games) have started offering virtual currencies....We got a small taste of this when Grand Theft Auto V opened its online component to microtransactions."

The more companies that do this, the more it becomes a standard. But only because it works, and gamers are showing companies that for good or bad, it's an additional, viable way for publishers and developers to make money.

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