The market for digital games is growing. In the past years, 4.4 billion euros were implemented on the market for computer and video games – an increase of nine percent compared to 2017. The “In-Game Purchases” division was particularly strong, with sales of almost two billion euros. On the other hand, revenue from the purchase of games is declining.
The smallest of all the purchase options of a game is called “microtransaction” and has long since become a billion-dollar business. The Fortnite game shows the extent: In May 2018, SuperDataestimated that monthly revenue is 318 million dollars, even though users don’t have to pay a penny for the game. The revenue comes solely from in-app purchases for purely cosmetic features such as new costumes or additional challenges. There are more social incentives for purchases to show fellow players visually that you are no longer a beginner. Everything according to the motto: If you want to be beautiful, you have to pay. With “Candy Crush” you can save time by money = . If you have used up your life, you have to wait before you can continue playing, or just pay for a new round.
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FREE-TO-PLAY BUT PAY-TO-WIN
The games themselves are free and can be played without any further expenses. It began inconspicuously in 2006, in the picturesque province of Cyrodill on the continent of Tamriel: a shimmering horse armor is offered for sale under the name “Horse Armor Pack” and is perceived by many players of the fantasy role-playing game “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” as useless and expensive – and still sells well. Since then, there has been a permanent attraction in the game community.
A recent example is the “Shitstorm” around “Star Wars: Battlefront II”. Crucial content, such as game characters, could only be purchased with the help of a “loot box”; a box of unspecified content that had to be purchased with real or play money. After a wave of outrage over developers “DICE” and publisher “Electronic Arts” broke in, the companies rowed back and banned the purchaseable loot boxes from the game. Loot boxes are also viewed critically from the legal side; in Belgium and the Netherlands, the controversial mechanism is now banned.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Apple wants to break new ground with its Apple Arcade model. The offer is likely to be of particular interest to parents, as Apple wants to curate the games offered by hand, thus reassuring the parents’ consciences, in which the children are only offered high-quality games that are ad-free and without banners or in-app purchases. A monthly contribution is probably due for this, but it is not yet known (most media assume around ten euros per month).
In the end, as in many other areas of life, the question of who bears what responsibility. It should be a mixture of manufacturers, vendors & platforms as well as the customer himself, because even in real life we like to buy things that are not absolutely necessary, but simplify or beautify our lives. By the way, there are also extensions to buy in classic board games, without which this has been criticized so far. So, as is so often the case, it depends on the sense of proportion and the sound mind.