What Makes Us Buy In-Game Purchases?

From skins to items slots, here's why we buy in-game purchases.

By Nilin, Posted 20 May 2020

Free-to-play games are convenient. Who doesn't like free stuff? However, game developers also need a steady stream of revenue to continue giving service. That's why in-game purchases were developed. Depending on the game, it could be cosmetic (Fortnite skins will not boost your Fortnite stats at all). Otherwise, it could boost performance or provide some conveniences (Candy Crush powerups, for example).

Fortnite Stats

Here are some of the reasons why we buy in-game purchases.

They Make Everything Convenient

In games such as Candy Crush or Clash of Clans, you want things to be easy. Candy Crush gradually increases the difficulty of levels, so people would buy the powerups to make frustrating levels easier. In the case of Clash of Clans and similar games, you buy your time. In-game purchases let you skip the waiting on your buildings or processes. You won't have to spend hours waiting for it to finish.

MMOs have a different definition of convenience. Their microtransactions (especially those called 'pay-to-win' games) focus on improving performance. You pay for items to boost your stats, increase experience gains, or skip the grinding for levels altogether.

There are many third-party sites or services that help you play the game better. From Fortnite stats trackers to trading sites, some also need payment so you can enjoy them. One example is poe.trade. To have your items listed on the site, you need to pay for a premium stash tab. The alternative is to have your trade offers drowned out in the chat, so this is necessary for a smoother trading experience.

Customization and Self Expression

For social networking games, such as Habbo and Gaia Online, you have more choices for clothing and customization for your character. Usually, paid options are better-looking than the free ones. These kinds of items are usually purely cosmetic, but some games have these boost stats.

While not an example of the above, Overwatch and Fortnite also fall into this category. Their microtransactions all involve skins to change the character's looks.

Exclusive Content

Other games lock exclusive content behind a paywall. The nature of the content depends on the game. Sometimes it's a dungeon with better rewards, extra side stories, or new areas to explore. One example is OSRS, where being a paid member gives you higher level caps, new areas to explore, and more quests to do. Choose-your-own-story games may have entire routes unavailable unless you pay for them.

Gacha games have exclusive characters, cards, or whatever you collect in the game every so often. You can pay to have more chances or raise the probability of getting them. As they're available to get only for a limited time, you end up paying or missing out until the event comes back again.

A Desire to Support the Game

Some people like the game so much that they buy something to support the developers. It doesn't really matter for them what they bought. They just want the game to continue existing. It's also a way to show appreciation for the developers.

Some indie games have a pay-what-you-want model. You can get the game for free, but if you feel like it's worth paying for, you can set the amount yourself. Maybe it's how much you think the game is worth, or enough to show your enjoyment.

They Help You Enjoy the Game More

This holds true especially for the ones that make playing the game more convenient. However, people's preferences differ. Others might enjoy the exclusive content, or want to support the game. That said, you can also have fun playing and not paying for anything.

Microtransactions aren't a bad thing, really. Some developers just implement them in a frustrating way. It's up to you whether you want to pay for them or not.

Continue enjoying free-to-play games!


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General Information



Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC, Mobile
Publisher(s): Epic Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): Darren Sugg, Epic Games, People Can Fly
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Survival
Release Date: 2017-07-21

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