My final year project at Bournemouth University will be doing a research paper on Micro transactions both from a Commercial and Psychological view.
Whether it is buying a brand new skin for an in-game cosmetic or a life in-game so the player can carry on playing, Micro-transactions play an important role in making sure a company receives financial income from a game that they have released. This research proposal will detail what is a Micro-transaction and how they are used in the gaming industry, looking at the psychological thinking of customers/players when they are going to engage with real life money in an online virtual world.
Micro transactions were originally used on the Apple and Google play stores to allow players to buy lives to be able to complete a level or to buy extra power ups that would give the player the upper hand in the game. Micro transactions have rapidly expanded onto the AAA Games market and has only recently been deployed into Indie Games that allows developers to release games for free and then make revenue of the game by selling additional content. This is what the industry call a “Freemium / Pay-to-win game” where players are paying for in-game items that either give the characters the advantage over other players which cannot be unlocked or gained by grinding the game or by free means. The Micro transaction business model is built on giving consumers a free game which they can play for hundreds of hours to unlock and try to beat their counter-parts or they can spend real life money to gain an advantage in a virtual world.
Micro transactions are provided via a custom online store that is designed in a way to market the “best featured” items in the game that gives the player the best advantage over other players and these items are normally on sale so the developer generates a lot of revenue on that item, However the custom store will also display the in-game items that won’t give the player a great advantage over other players but will contribute to the game one way or another. Items bought through micro transactions will either be delivered to the account virtually in-game or an email will be sent containing a code to redeem in-game which will then unlock that item. Some companies such as Valve have an online distribution platform called “Steam” which takes 30% of any purchase made on their distribution platform, that’s every sale from an AAA Game, Indie Game, Marketplace Sale or direct Micro transactions sold in-games, not only is it just Valve who take a 30% commission from any sale, Google who own the “Google Store” and Apple who own the “App Store” also take a 30% commission from any sale made on their distribution platforms.
The nature of this research project will be looking at 3 different case studies that will cover mobile games, AAA games and online distribution stores that give players access to games instantly. Furthermore, it will also be looking at the “Value for Money” for the consumer and the “Consumption of Goods” because in reality, is it actually improving the players experience or is it restraining the player to buy products to beat their friends at a game.