Back in 2012 the PC free-to-play, freemium service model racked in $11 billion in revenue. Fast forward to 2017 and the PC free-to-play microtransaction market has doubled to $22 billion in revenue, according to a report from SuperData Research.
There’s an accompanying chart from the research firm indicating that standard DLC and expansion models has only moderately increased over the years, going from $2 billion in 2012 up to $5 billion in 2017. It more than doubled over the past five years, but it’s still a far-cry from the free-to-play landscape.
More interesting is the fact that the chart appears to show shrinking revenue for full priced games for this year and next year, with 2017 and 2018 estimated to make a little less or just as much as what was made in 2016.
This is no surprise given that companies have been over-exerting their intentions to focus on microtransactions, loot boxes, and DLC over providing gamers with quality, fun games to play.
There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy AAA games other than for the novelty of having a game in your library for bragging rights, but it certainly isn’t because it’s fun or entertaining.
The research notes that games like FIFA 18 are more reliant on microtransactions for tail end profitability than any upfront packaged sales during the first year on the market. A chart shows that while most gamers have rebuffed the growing trend of premium loot boxes in premium priced AAA games, football and soccer fans are still fine churning out money on random cards to help boost their team performance.
SuperData notes that EA may have gutted their own golden goose by getting too greedy for their own good. The Star Wars: Battlefront II loot box fiasco has brought government regulation down around the ears of publishers looking to utilize the monetary method to make quick bucks off little kids and gambling addicts. This hasn’t been sitting too well with gambling commissions the world around.
SuperData notes that they’re not sure about the course correction for EA’s microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II, but despite the push back gamers are still putting lots of money into the coffers of microtransaction peddlers…
“It remains to be seen what effect EA’s course correction on microtransactions will have on Battlefront II, but it’s fair to say the vocal fan community isn’t enthused. Despite this, it’s clear that gamers are continuing to spend on well-executed additional content, and the market presents a massive opportunity for publishers.”
If gamers decide to start spending less on microtransactions (in the same way they’re spending less on AAA outings), it might be enough of a wake-up call to convince publishers to start working on making fun games instead of trying to muscle in on the casino market under the guise of interactive entertainment.