Micro-transactions are becoming more and more common in Video Games. From lootboxes to XP-boosts, the ability to access the multiplayer features, and sometimes even to just get rid of adverts on otherwise free-to-play games, there's no getting away from them. The appeal for industry bosses is clear. Data shows that micro-transactions have increased the value of the industry by a third. With the Gaming industry already worth billions of dollars without these extra payments, there has to be a substantial amount of income from these transactions to make such a massive impact on profit margins.

While there's no denying that they are highly lucrative, any new major game announcement is quickly followed by the question 'Are there micro-transactions?' which is a question no developer seems to enjoy answering if the answer is 'yes.'

What are micro-transactions?

For those of you that don't know and have managed to remain blissfully unaware of their existence, micro-transactions are in-game purchases made with real money for in-game perks. The most common form is Loot Boxes. These provide players with the chance to gain rare gear which would improve their abilities in-game. The key word here is chance. The odds are very much against players when it comes to getting various items but these odds are kept from the players in most territories.

This tiny issue of chance has had people questioning whether micro-transactions are a perk for those who can afford them or a form of unregulated gambling, with UK lawmakers investigating whether they would fall under that description, particularly with games aimed at a younger audience.


For a while, gamers have begrudgingly accepted micro-transactions as a part of gaming, but as they become ever more invasive and tyrannical, with EA's "NBA 2K18" being named among the worst offenders, players are pushing back against the practice.

One of the most recent examples of this backlash is "Middle Earth: Shadow of War." The highly anticipated and acclaimed game saw a massive backlash for its inclusion of micro-transactions which players apparently needed to unlock a secret ending. Despite reassurances from Monolith Productions and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment that micro-transactions weren't needed to complete the game, fans remained sceptical of their inclusion.

With triple A games costing in the region of $60 per title, gamers are questioning why micro-transactions even need to be included other than as attempt to get as much money from the audience as possible. And now it's not just fans that are voicing their displeasure with the practice. As previously mentioned, the UK parliament are investigating the issue, but they aren't the only body. EA, who have a less than stellar reputation when it comes to the practice, mostly involving children running up massive bills on Fifa points, were hit with an official warning by the UK advertising regulator for their use of the transactions in the mobile version of "Dungeon Keeper."

The good news

Yes, there is good news.

It seems that some developers are finally beginning to listen to the fans, even if it is very, very slowly. After the threat of a boycott, Ubisoft addressed the concerns of players of "For Honor," which included concerns about the micro-transaction system. The upcoming "Assassin's Creed: Origins" won't require players to use real world currency for loot. Blizzard have revamped their micro-transactions in "Overwatch" and "Hearthstone" to make them more rewarding for players, effectively eliminating multiples of Legendary gear and making the collection of character skins much easier.

But despite the negative press that they get, they are clearly popular with some gamers, and they serve another issue; offsetting the increasing cost of game production.

While the retail price of games has stayed relatively steady over the years, expectations and technology have made the process more expensive. DLC's and micro-transactions are used to offset the costs. Without this revenue, many studios would go bust and the cost of video games would go up for everyone. The undeniable fact is that developers aren't going to let micro-transactions go easily, regardless of gamers' perceptions of the practice. An annoying evil they may be, but perhaps they're simply one that needs some regulation.