Have You Done Micropayments (In Games)

I realized that I’ve used micropayments only in one game, but could think of doing them more in games when the system is “done right”. What’s your take on micropayments? Have you purchased some stuff inside games?

I think there’s several issues to be handled, and not saying that I’m expert on micropayments (heck, like said, just done that like in one game), but here’s my list:

  • Purchasing should happen “with just one click” if possible. This means that “wallets” systems help this for sure. Whether it’s Xbox live credits or Facebook credits or PS3 wallet, but there needs to be something that saves the buyer from typing credit card details over and over again.
  • The purchased stuff should feel fair. If it feels like you are being a ripped off (“you have to buy this gadget, otherwise you suck in this game”) or if the purchase doesn’t bring some visible benefit (“your hunting skill just improved 2% – yeh we know it doesn’t matter”) the buyer doesn’t feel good.
  • Purchase should expand the game if possible. This is again me just dreaming but I feel that purchases that somehow expand the game (“okay, you just unlocked the Gnome race, sure you can do just fine by playing Human race, but Gnomes are cool with their beards and all – so why not give ’em a go?”). If it keeps the game balanced, but adds something extra, then me thinks it’s a good candidate for a stuff that players want to purchase.
  • Right price. (That doesn’t automatically mean “cheap”)

But heck, what do I know.

Let’s hear your voice. Let me know if you’d (micro)purchased anything inside games and what elements there were aiding you to take the step. Does my list make any sense?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. The best place to analyze how to place microtransactions in a game is the Mochi featured game list. The ninja kiwi guys last 2-3 games Bloons TD4 and SAS Zombie, show how micro-transactions in games should work. I would review those before trying it myself.

  2. I have only once bought something ingame, which was to support the developers. Got some eye candy for those few dollars, which didn’t affect gameplay at all.

    Usually in any online game, if paying players do get too significant advantage, it will pull off the non-paying majority. So it’s actually not easy to get the balance right… things to pay for include time-savers, i.e. like mounts in Runes of Magic (or teleports like hermitC mentioned). Or longer build-lists, so you don’t have to log in several times a day to add to your build list (like I see currently in Lord of Ultima). Any sort of decorations, like furniture in Runes of Magic.

    If a purchase expands the game, that is more difficult (haven’t seen anything like that working). Would exclude the non-paying majority, which is not a good thing…

  3. Yeah I bought something on Facebook to test out someone else’s system.

    Only 5% or less of players actually spend money in-game but it’s a numbers game, get 1,000,000 players and you’re set.

  4. Good points.

    An additional point I can come up with is time saving for money. An example would be a teleporting device or spell which can warp you back to a chosen point. It can save much time for a little fee.

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