IDC predicts in-game microtransactions are never going away
Star Wars: Battlefront II is the latest laughing stock in the gaming community. It won't take much searching to find out why the EA title has received the most downvotes in Reddit history and why it can feel like a free-to-play Android game despite the $60 USD asking price.
As disliked by consumers as they may be, microtransactions and "loot boxes" are simply making too much money for companies to abandon. This is according to analyst Lewis Ward from market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) who regularly tracks laptop, tablet, and smartphone shipment numbers to gauge industry trends.
"Games are really becoming services, where the launch of the game is just the beginning of monetization, and the big money is having a large community, a large user base, that keeps playing year after year after year," said Ward in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. While he provided no concrete numbers as to how much individual publishers are raking in from microtransactions, he stressed that revenue from free-to-play mobile games had actually outperformed traditional console and PC games in 2016. There are indubitably huge incentives for publishers like EA and Activision to integrate in-game purchases onto full-priced games like Need for Speed Payback and the now-infamous Battlefront II despite the online outcry.
It's in our opinion that major publishers will continue to iterate on microtransactions and push the boundaries between what is acceptable and unacceptable for gamers until they reach a fine line where the core audience will no longer condemn them in droves. After testing the waters with Battlefront 1 (2015) and now-infamous Battlefront II, EA will likely "refine" and attempt an ever-so-slightly scaled back system for whatever licensed title is coming next just to gauge public reactions yet again. Unfortunately, it's tough for an angry consumer to argue against the $36.9 billion USD revenue that microtransactions have brought to the table in the last year alone.
[November 16th, 2017 update: EA has announced that it will "turn off all in-game purchases" in Battlefront II until a later date when it will be reintroduced. It appears that the publisher is already attempting to refine its microtransaction attempts as predicted.]