With the wealth of games out there now offering microtransactions, it’s easy to accept the concept. Spending money on games is a part of playing games. After all, you have to buy the games themselves. You, of course, have to buy DLC, and now you ‘can’ buy loads of other things. While this may seem like more variety, it’s really just about more money.
Now, to say that capitalism has shaped the industry is like saying snow shaped the skiing industry. Of course, companies need to earn money to stay afloat. But that doesn’t mean they need to slowly suck us dry of every hard-earned penny and pence. In fact, there’s a largely psychological factor to microtransactions most people don’t consider.
Working on the same principles as payment plans, microtransactions are designed to make you forget them. From requiring small amounts of money to buying being too easy, everything is set up for you to fail. I need to beat this level, so I’ll buy more ammo. The next boss is too tough, I’ll buy more armor. All of this makes you forget you’re spending real money, not tokens, points, rings, or gold. That alone is a marketing strategy that’s worrisome at best and dangerously unstable at worst. From kids routinely stealing parents’ credit cards to people spending hundreds of thousands on game loot. This leads to avenues that we aren’t considering the dangers of at the moment.
Not only are gaming companies setting up these systems to keep squirreling away our money, but they also have no reason to stop. Everyone is assuming it’s a few bad apples that are messing it up for the whole bushel. But when the system is rigged, is it children’s fault for playing the game? Even adults are spending too much money on these systems, often putting themselves in financial jeopardy. If you can’t make rent this month because you have a fully automatic sniper rifle… you’re still homeless.
So in a world where children are being conditioned to steal credit cards for digital cash… who wins? If the gaming companies are still making all those dollars and benefiting from credit card fraud, they win. Not only that, but it doesn’t seem likely to stop anytime soon. Every time a new game is released there’s now a hesitant pause as people figure out if microtransactions take place. It’s as if we all know it’s a nightmare, but we keep going back to sleep.