Over the last few months, some have demanded that microtransactions and loot boxes be removed from games. But a new report suggests that microtransactions are unlikely to be removed from games anytime soon.
A report by industry analytics firm SuperData Research reveals that microtransaction revenue is actually on the rise, in the PC gaming sector at least. This year alone, PC developers and publishers are set to make $22 billion from free-to-play games, which are monetized by microtransaction purchases. This is different to “additional content” such as DLC story expansions, which are expected to make just $5 billion on PC and console games in 2017.
By 2020, the revenue from microtransactions will have increased to $24 billion and by 2022, SuperData expects the figure to rise even higher to $25 billion. While revenue from microtransactions already outweighs the combined revenue of buying games and their DLC, by 2022 it will eclipse game and DLC sales. Game and DLC sales are only expected to make $18 billion (total, on PC and consoles) come 2022.
This new data mirrors what individual game developers and publishers are reporting. For example, Ubisoft makes more money from microtransactions and DLC than digital game sales. SuperData explains that revenue from microtransactions is growing because game creators are “aware that each segment has a finite audience, are looking for ways to further monetize both the existing audience and find new ways to attract new consumers by lowering the entry barriers.”
Essentially, by making games as a service, developers and publishers can keep players “hooked.” The target audience may only include so many people but including microtransactions and giving players more reasons to play a game allows these them to make money past the initial purchase price.
It’s why Star Wars Battlefront 2 is adding free DLC next month and is why Destiny 2 continues to host events such as Faction Rally. Overwatch, Pokemon GO, and League of Legends are a few other examples of games that continue to host events and give players more reasons to play for long after the launch date.
For those frustrated with the free-to-play business models and microtransactions, these figures from SuperData may be hard to hear. Developers and publishers will be more reluctant to get rid of the business model if players continue to vote in favor of them with their wallets. Though, the recent Star Wars Battlefront 2 controversy suggests that, while microtransactions may not be going anywhere right now, game creators may at least be looking how to make them more palatable to players.
Source: SuperData Research