Playing all kinds of games, from video games to mobile gaming and social games, can be pursued for free or for very little money, and yet, gamers tend to spend some cash on their favorite entertainment.
According to the 2021 survey in the US, most gamers that prefer mobile devices like smartphones and tablets used to spend an average of $61 in the previous year. At the same time, gamers that used consoles spend around $84 annually on additional in-game content and perks.
In 2022, all active gamers that pursue all available gaming activities in the US reported spending on average around $23.87 per month which reaches $288+ per year.
Another, even more, impressive research claims that US gamers tend to spend up to $58,000 on games and in-game content during their entire life (the research suggested that players start paying for video games around the age of 16 and live till 80 while remaining active players).
Why are these numbers so impressive, though, and why would anyone care how much money kids and adults who can afford it spend on video games? One of the reasons to track these things is because not only people who can afford it spend money on games, and not only kids that are eligible to do so, do so. These facts cause various social issues and risks for the mental health and well-being of gamers.
Additionally, some paid in-game benefits like loot boxes or skins auctions resemble gambling, and a rather unfair one. If players are eligible by age and jurisdiction, they can find best $1 deposit casino here but buying loot boxes in video games is available freely for everyone, which is an issue today.
One of the reasons why people tend to spend additional money on additional in-game content, often quite useless like pretty skins, is the tricky marketing strategies that game developers and platforms tend to use. So, what makes people buy unreal things for real money?
Paying for a new game or for access to a gaming platform is quite reasonable. However, non-gamers often fail to understand what additional stuff can gamers buy after the game was already paid for.
The most popular stuff gamers buy is loot boxes, skins, and in-game currency. All those things are either unavailable in the game otherwise than via buying, or can only be unlocked after considerable effort and experience. Some players just don’t want to wait and would like to get all the perks they can afford, faster.
But this creates a lot of controversies within the gaming community and in the marketing industry, as well. As game developers, companies want bigger profits, increasing the revenue so they create a sense of scarcity and urgency in players to stimulate them to buy in-game items and perks. However, in the long term, the gaming community quickly grows tired of constant reminders about paid benefits or limitations that non-paying gamers face, creating a sense of frustration and unfair division.
There are several factors that stimulate gamers to invest more money into their gaming activities besides paying for the game itself:
- Psychological manipulation by game developers like limited-time offers, exclusive content, or psychological triggers that exploit players’ vulnerabilities and illusions about the real purpose of the marketing tricks
- The feeling of reward – the anticipation of obtaining a desirable item or an in-game boost triggers feelings of excitement and pleasure. This is seen very well in the case of loot boxes and betting on skins
- Fear of missing out on exclusive content or advantages leads players to make impulsive purchases they didn’t plan for
- Players believe they can guess the most advantageous loot box or any other outcome of their investment
- Players may feel the need to acquire certain items or skins to enhance their in-game status and gain recognition in the community
- Customizing characters or avatars with unique skins creates in players the feeling that they can express their individuality and show a personal identity within the game, thus boosting self-expression within the community
While spending more money on gaming itself may not sound like a problem, some people just cannot afford to spend that much on this kind of product – not entertainment as such but additional bits of entertainment on top of entertainment they have already paid for. This causes uncontrolled spending patterns and actually destroys the pleasure from the process of gaming which becomes a very limited experience without paying for extra perks.
While offering loot boxes, skins auctions, power boosts, and other paid activities that resemble gambling, within free availability to underage players definitely screams regulation, there are some factors that prevent players from paying more for in-game perks. They are
- negative user experience – too many reminders about paid options and too few unpaid options decrease players’ engagement and spending
- high prices – while how high is too high differs for players, there’s definitely a perceived limit that most players won’t cross buying additional items in a game
- lack of perceived value of an item or perk definitely decreases the player’s desire to invest
- unfair gaming conditions for paying and non-paying players can turn unpaying players into un-playing ones altogether
- General negative feedback in the community or widely known cases of negative user experience
All these experiences eventually result in the loss of players’ trust altogether and the loss of revenue from these players in the long term.