It has been a long time since mobile gaming was considered the boogeyman of the gaming industry. Since mobile gaming started growing in popularity back in 2008, it has become a huge part of the industry landscape. It’s also the place that micro-transactions really started to become popular.
A recent report from industry analysis company Liftoff showed that mobile gamers have spent more than $41 billion on micro-transactions and other in-app purchases in a single year. This means that micro-transactions are the biggest income source for mobile developers by a huge margin. All of this is potentially awful news for the mainstream games industry.
Micro-transactions technically started out in the early 2000s on MMOs like Habbo Hotel. Back then it was basically just paying for virtual currency to spend on items in-game. But it was mobile gaming that really made them popular. Before mobile games, you’d never expect to see them in a full-priced retail game.
These days tons of games have micro-transactions, even if they don’t make sense for the game they’re in. Games like Star Wars Battlefront II and Middle-earth: Shadow of War were famously littered with micro-transactions. So much so that they both had to remove them due to bad press .
The reason we see so many micro-transactions in games these days is exactly because they make so much money. This new report is just going to add fuel to the fire. As soon as companies catch wind of it they’re going to be doubling down on micro-transactions in big-budget titles. All thanks to mobile gaming.
There is a way that we can stop these features appearing in full-budget titles. Stop paying for them. You don’t even have to stop buying the games themselves necessarily, although that might help. If we, as gamers, stop patronizing micro-transaction en masse, they’d disappear pretty quickly.
Of course, that’s not going to happen. Even if large sections of the audience for games stopped buying them, there will always be people who don’t. People who aren’t necessarily involved in gaming culture probably don’t care about micro-transactions. They just want their Wumpa coin .
If this trend continues micro-transactions are only going to become more and more popular. Not only that, but we’ve seen games companies bleeding into the mobile gaming market. How long will it really be before we can’t tell the difference between the two anymore?