In a world that offers a nearly endless amount of free content we are seeing smaller gaming companies turn to more creative methods for generating revenue. Free content is being used as a backbone for membership services, advertisements, and microtransactions. Instead of buying a full product up front consumers get the product for free with the option to modify or unlock additional features and content.
From a business perspective this is just the next step in a long line of business competition. In many cases having a great product just isn’t enough anymore. Creators need to provide value to their customers free of charge in order to build and maintain their audience. The consumer’s perspective is much different. Some of us like getting free stuff with additional purchasing options. Others would rather spend the money to get everything up front.
For example, lets take a look at DLC for video games. Many people enjoy buying the base game with the option of continuing if they want. Some may argue that the availability of the DLC may drive down the price of the base game. People who just want the core game are no longer subsidizing the customers who want everything on the initial purchase. On the other hand, some may argue that the quality of video games have decreased due to this pricing structure. The base game itself is not worth the price and is used as the gatekeeper for the title’s DLC. These people would rather pay a single price up front one time.
Personally, believe these games should be examined on a case by case basis. There are applications that offer a reasonable price for removing adds. I have subscribed to memberships that have gone above and beyond to give me great content. I have also prepaid for games that never end up being released. There are paid apps that are useless without paying to remove restrictions. Regardless of how you feel about these pricing structures, we are all living in it. All of these microtransactions can add up when it comes to your wallet.
Regardless of how you feel about these pricing structures, we are all living in it. How many different plan options and tweaks are available through your mobile carrier? How many ads do you see on a daily basis that allow you to pay them away? We should be grateful that competition has allowed us to get free content, but all of these microtransactions can add up when it comes to your wallet.
SUPPORT WHAT YOU LOVE
App and game developers have to eat too! A lot of the services we use on a daily basis are provided free of charge. If no one pays for ad space or additional features then these companies would go out of business. We should only be giving money to products that offer value to our lives. More support means bigger and better products in the future.
Dropping a few dollars on a game we play every day is different than spending money on a game we just downloaded. I recently spent five dollars during my game of choice’s holiday sale. This purchase was much different than the nagging puzzle game on my phone. Games that I have been playing consistently are more likely to earn my money. The developers are providing me with a quality product. I want to feel that my money is well spent.
When it comes to microtransactions, I like to do is a monthly sweep. Once a month I go through all of the apps on my phone and my bank statements. When I see an app purchase or subscription fee I think about whether or not I am still using the service. This helps me keep my purchases limited to only the things I need. It also helps to remove any recurring fees that may go unnoticed. Another way to limit recurring transactions is to track them through a calendar or to-do list. Every time I sign up for a service, I put a recurring reminder on my to-do list for the charge. This ends up being more convenient when it comes to deciding what services we may want to cancel.
PAYING FOR ABILITY AND VANITY
Additional content for games come in many shapes and sizes. Some items will give buyers an advantage in gameplay. Others provide purely aesthetic content. These features will affect different aspects of the game, especially multiplayer modes. Being able to buy the best gear in a multiplayer game favors those with money to spend. This often makes the game more difficult for players who do not spend money. Games which only offer vanity items may be more balanced. The net effect of the game’s purchasable content is going to alter the experience of their players.
Before deciding to spend money on a game we must think about how the purchase affects gameplay. I used to play a lot of League of Legends. One thing I always admired about this game, as well as many other MOBAs, was its ability to not offer items that impact normal gameplay. I have played similar games where I was constantly beaten by those who had opted for the thirty dollar package offer. I tend to play less games with this balance, but everyone’s tastes in gaming varies.
We download an RPG. It’s going very well and we are killing, looting, and leveling at a great pace. Then the game starts to slow down. I mean really slow. It is taking us three weeks to get a new piece of gear. We’ve hit the dreaded wall.
Hitting a wall in game progression can be one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding aspects of the game. During these periods is when the temptation to spend money strikes the hardest. Before deciding whether or not to buy our way through the wall there are a few factors to consider.
Before I launch myself into a new game (typically a mobile game) I often do some research. First, I look to see what people are saying about the rate of progression. Then, I try to get a feel for player’s dependence on paid items. Many popular mobile games have their own subreddit where these factors can be discussed.
We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded with advertising and opportunities to spend money. The small purchases here and there add up. This is especially true when our digital purchases are often out of sight and mind. By keeping track of our digital spending and making smart purchases we can make the most of our money.
What mobile games are you playing? Do you have any tips for managing microtransactions? Let me know on social media!