Microtransactions: Opportunities for Investors: In-Game Purchases with Sales Worth Billions | News

In the gaming industry, as in any other industry, money is considered a key indicator of success. However, focusing too much on business spoils the gaming experience, after all, games are a kind of art and should be fun in the first place. Hence, game developers or other providers are trying to make money elsewhere.

In-game purchases as a device to earn money

And at the same time they make generous profits. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and computers, sharing your game with a wide audience has never been easier. Mostly, young players can choose between paid and free games. In order to be able to play these games faster, acquire rare gear or reach higher levels, players are offered either paid extensions or online items – the so-called in-game items. They are mainly sold in free games and are one of the top three sources of income, alongside advertising and monthly membership fees.

On the one hand, it has to do with downloadable content (DLC) such as characters, levels or additional in-game missions that can be purchased on the sales platform or externally on sales platforms such as eBay or Amazon. On the other hand, digital game currencies such as food or resources are also part of in-game items, which in turn can be exchanged for other items. Finally, virtual items such as weapons or pieces of equipment can be exchanged for real money on platforms or randomly in so-called “loot boxes”. Prices range from small single-digit amounts to several thousand dollars for an in-game purchase.

Several thousand dollars for a few pixels

Last year alone, the player paid $ 61,000 for a special weapon, the so-called Dragon Lore, in the game “Counter Striker Global Offensive”. Another player spent $ 12,000 in 2012 on an equally rare weapon in Diablo 3. Other special virtual items such as knives can cost up to $ 2,000. If you have the best digital merchandise, you don’t only get higher in the game. They also serve as status symbols and arouse admiration among like-minded people.

This is how the gaming industry developed into a profitable sector: as reported by the news portal Games Wirtschaft, citing an industry association, in 2018 Germany generated record sales of almost two billion euros. More than half of this is through in-game purchases. Analysts at Juniper Research estimate that by 2022, sales of in-game items alone will increase to $ 50 billion worldwide.

In-game purchases as an investment opportunity?

For many investors, this is an opportunity to jump. Because in-game items can be purchased not only for the purpose of the game, but also for investment purposes. In 2010, an investor paid $ 635,000 for the virtual nightclub “Club Neverdie” in the online role-playing game “Entropia Universe”. In the game, the dollar is tied to the game currency, which greatly facilitates real investments. Jeff Drivert, who has been selling Counter-Strike skins since 2015 and focuses on stickers and virtual boxes, has also invested heavily.

The value of digital goods depends on their frequency and appearance – which is why, for example, stickers are of particular value. They are unique and rare in that they are only released in Counter-Striker tournaments by the game developer Valve. Since the first edition in 2014, they have appreciated significantly: although they cost only a few dollars back then, today you can buy them for several hundred dollars. “At the right moment, a 200% profit is certainly possible,” said the driver according to WirtschaftsWoche.


As you can see, there is some profit potential in in-game purchases. Whether it is morally legitimate to trade or invest in digital items is controversial. Under pressure to constantly have new and better digital goods, many young people are at risk of debt. The 19-year-old gamer wrote on Reddit that he spent $ 13,500 on in-game items in just three years and suffers from “gambling addiction.” In fact, according to experts, for example, loot boxes are considered a gamble because you only accidentally receive new items from them, despite purchasing them. Lastly, in-game purchases are difficult to control and are often done without parental knowledge or consent.

Editors of finanzen.net

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