The Beauty of Videogame Microtransactions


The Appetizer

It is no secret that the IPhone is a runaway success, and along with it is their Apps store.  One of the central areas that Apple has been pushing about their product is the videogame selections.  Their games, typically costing no more than $10, and in many cases free, have provided serious competition against the traditional handheld gaming systems such as Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP.  With so many games out there, one of the ways that publishers are using to pull players in is through offering games for free, a model that has been used on PCs  for years.  However, games cost money- whether it is the development kits, promotion, and or staff to create the product.  So how can a developer/publisher make up for their investments/expenses if they are giving their game away for free in order to attract an audience? One of the ways that is being popularized on the Iphone is the concept of microtransactions.  There are two ways in which it is being performed– one is through offering games at low to no cost, and then selling individual items, such as characters, their gear/equipment, levels, etc., for a fee.  The second is offering a demo of a game, allowing for players to sample it, and if they like it, then they can purchase the full game directly from the demo.

The Main Course

The Dessert

Watch this model and how it picks up over all consoles.  As digital distribution on popular gaming systems slowly becomes more standard, so will microtransactions, and do not be surprised if the concept of buying a game straight from the demo does not become the norm as well.  Traditionally, on major systems, the demos and games are separate, but now with systems such as the XBox 360 and PS3 releasing games from the previous and current generation directly for download, customers would not have to worry about getting games that have the demo-to game purchase that are only of handheld game system graphic quality- the systems can now handle current generation games.  In addition, in recent years, microtransactions have already been creating another revenue stream for games on the major systems such as Xbox360, Wii, and PS3.  Digital downloading is an integral aspect of the future of videogame systems– do not expect this trend of microtransactions to go anywhere but up since it adds value, longevity, and potential revenue to games.

The Overall Meal

5 Stars!

The Doggybag

Do you think most games that are released via download instead of cartridge will release as demos first and if so, why?

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