Microtransactions is a large scale industry that is becoming a dominant business for certain types of companies. They are small financial transactions that are made within a digital environment, such as a video game or app. These transactions are typically for the purchase of virtual goods or services, and can range from a few cents to several dollars.
One of the challenges with microtransactions is that they require easy payment methods in order to be practical, as the process of making a full payment can interrupt gameplay. There have been numerous cases where players have claimed that their microtransaction purchases were accidental, due to the ease with which they can be made.
It is important to recognize that microtransactions involve real-world payments, even though they take place within a virtual environment. Games are often designed to create a compulsive desire for regular purchases of virtual goods, which can lead to a form of video game addiction that can have serious financial and social consequences, similar to gambling.
There are also ethical concerns surrounding the use of microtransactions in games that are clearly designed for children. In some cases, these transactions may be viewed as a sales pitch aimed directly at children, which raises concerns about the manipulation of young players.The following are illustrative examples.
Unlocking functions of an app.
Features such as game levels and characters.
Content such as stickers that can be sent to friends in a messaging app.
Powers and abilities in a game.
Virtual gifts such as jewelry.
Tools, machines and vehicles such as a spacecraft that can be used in a virtual environment.
Fashion and accessories that can be worn in a virtual environment.
Things that can be used once such as a magic potion in a game. This is essentially the virtual equivalent of fast moving consumer goods.
A box filled with random items. In many cases, there is a chance to win a rare and valuable virtual good. As such, loot boxes may fall under gambling laws in some jurisdictions.
A virtual vending machine that dispenses a random virtual good that may be rare or valuable.