How microtransactions are changing the video game industry

$ 24 million in profits and more than ten million downloads in three weeks: the video game Diablo Immortal is a resounding success. At least in appearance. Because on the Metacritic site, where Internet users rate the quality of cultural products, it is blockbuster from Blizzard Entertainment studios and NetEase show the pitiful score of 0.3 / 10. The low score is explained by the impressive number of microtransactions that must be performed to advance in the game, due to an outcry from the players. Coats of arms to buy, upgrades to acquire or even powers to unlock … The game is free to download but can be very expensive afterwards. According to the YouTube channel Bellular News, it would cost $ 110,000 to play the best possible character. A sign of the crushing new weight of microtransactions on business Computer games.

“Without microtransactions, the video game industry is dead,” said Julien Pillot, an economist at Inseec. Why such a development? “We are in a universe where the industry has matured,” explains the teacher-researcher. It is concentrated, there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions in recent years. ” Industrial groups are getting stronger, and the cost of blockbusters multiply -up to $ 200 million for a game, excluding costs marketing, according to the economist. “That business model of these big budget games tie up working time and capital for years. This is a huge business risk. Today, with two consecutive business failures, you go bankrupt. In order to continue to feed this model, we need games that take less time to develop and that are based on microtransactions. These games will provide you with a recurring income and will not be very expensive. ” Something to reassure investors.

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In 2020, the giant EA accounted for 29% of its revenue via microtransactions in the game FIFA Ultimate Team. Julien Pillot explains this success: “Players are ready to pay small amounts several times, so it goes as painlessly as possible. And in the end, we get a ticket that is much higher than what they would have spent at one time. “

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