Video games: The merciless battle for monetization

Video games: The merciless battle for monetization

Battle for Monetization for a long time, the business models of the video game industry used to be to buy-to-play. In other words, the player buys his game, in a physical or dematerialized format to play at home. This model now seems outdated. To further monetize their productions, publishers have launched numerous experiments in recent years. And today, free-to-play or pay-to-win models are developing. Publishers and studios are also betting on the use of crowd funding, the development of early access, or even pre-orders or micro-transactions. Sometimes with some success, for example Cloud Imperium Games, publisher of the space exploration game Star Citizen raised more than $ 192 million from more than 2 million “Star Citizens”. However, the game is still not finalized! This does not prevent Cloud Imperium Games from selling additional content, sometimes at a high price, like the pack at… 27,000 dollars.

In terms of early access, studios are using it not only as a method of financing but also a means of developing their games. They thus build up an installed base of beta testers. For the player, the approach is not without risk: the game may never be finished (or in a version far from the initial promises) and the price may be higher than when it was finally released. A study by Electronic Entertainment Design and Research in 2014 revealed that only 25% of games had been finalized and that the price of early access was on average higher than for the final version.

Battle for Monetization-Pre-orders without a specific release date banned in Germany

Another increasingly popular source of monetization is pre-orders. For the industry, they make it possible, among other things, to ensure a sales volume before the game’s release, the evaluation by the specialized press and the comments of the players on the specialized forums. For players, the advantages are, among other things, to be sure to have the game on the day of its release, or even before. In some cases, pre-orders come with various in-game bonuses or physical goods like miniatures. Faced with the enthusiasm, some publishers do not hesitate to launch pre-orders without a specific release date. A process now banned in Germany to limit abuse.

Another practice is the use of download content Battle for Monetization, or DLC (downloadable content in French) extensions that players can download after the games have been released. Free or paid, DLC allows studios and publishers to extend the life of the game, and make the development of their productions profitable. Often announced well before the release of a game, DLCs are now sold in the form of a season pass, a formula partly responsible for the economic success of the Fortnite game.

All these mechanisms that part of the video game industry uses can be combined in the same game and thus greatly increase spending per game and per player.

The case of loot boxes

In certain types of games, loot is an essential component of the game Battle for Monetization, even a reason to play. The loot includes rewards an enemy, usually a boss, abandoned when players beat him. They also refer to the random rewards obtained when opening chests scattered around the game, all of which can improve the player’s character.

But the loot system, originally a game mechanic, has gradually been diverted from its original intent to become a component of the business model of some games. It is indeed sometimes possible to buy “loot boxes” with random contents with virtual currency or real currency. Initially, free-to-play games on mobile phones (like Clash Royale) used these mechanisms: the game is free but loot boxes are available for purchase. In short, the model turns into pay-to-win, since the player must pay to maximize his chances of winning.

Gradually, some of the AAA game publishers, the big video game productions, have introduced these mechanisms into their games, transforming them into “pay to pay-to-win”.  For example in a game like NHL 21 you can buy hut coins a virtual in-game currency and use it to purchase players, player items and various other packs etc in order to make your team better.

Self-regulation and player reaction

Even though, to paraphrase Hamlet, there is something rotten about the video game empire, players in the industry are also taking a stand against loot boxes in particular and microtransactions in general. This is the case of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario, Donkey Kong, or The Legend of Zelda, who recently warned the video game industry against these practices. Let’s be real microtransactions are here to stay but it is up to us to decide how much of an impact they make on the gameplay. There will always be players who want to take the easy way out and buy hut coins, gold, or any other in-game items which helps with their game progress, but for the rest of us we need to control our urge to buy loot boxes and others in-game Battle for Monetization items with hard currency and only then we can force the video game makers to come up with ways to earn which benefit players as well as them.

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