Study finds gamers tolerate cosmetic microtransactions despite recent outrage

Microtransactions are a topic of contention in gaming today and cause a lot of outrage. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II. EA temporarily pulled the game's microtransactions, following a large backlash. If you go on Facebook and Twitter, there are numerous posts expressing concern and vowing boycotts. While that's just a small subsection of the gaming community, it's unclear how others feels.

Recently, data discussion platform Qutee conducted a study where it found that 69 percent of consumers found cosmetic microtransactions such as those found in Overwatch acceptable. The report — discussed by GamesIndustry — is quite extensive because it has more than 10,000 responses and greatly explores the issue. In addition to the 69 percent who found microtransactions acceptable, only 6 percent said they had never made in-game purchases. Surprisingly, only 22 percent had an issue with pay-to-win "toxic" microtransactions.

Flint Barrow, cofounder of Qutee, issued the following statement in response to the results of his company's study.

The industry is in the midst of a cultural shift while simultaneously experiencing growing pains. The pursuit of profit in some quarters has led to stagnation at best, and predatory tactics at worst. Gamers are watching and are at the centre of the interplay between passion and innovation meeting the bottom line. Fortunately, the market is so large it leaves room for fragmentation, where companies on both sides can successfully carve out a niche.

While the sample size is relatively small given the population of gamers out there, the trend runs in contradiction to the narrative that the majority of gamers are against them. Clearly, publishers feel this way too, and it could be why micropayments remain a growing trend.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

14 Comments
  • Why should I care for cosmetics?
  • You don't have to care about cosmetic upgrades. And that's the point, compared to pay-to-win upgrades.  Personally, I don't play any games that require microtransactions to acquire items necessary to win the game.  I simply don't.  I have no problem, however, paying for things that make the game more enjoyable but have no actual effect on my game play.  Example: Elite Dangerous has no microtransactions for things like weapons or ships or other features.  They DO, however, have a lot of microtransactions available if you want to give your ships different paint jobs, exterior customizations (aka, ship kits), and even customizations for your commander's avatar.  All of that goes toward the player enjoying the uniqueness of their 'character' in the Elite Dangerous universe.  NONE of it actually affects the ability to play the game.  You can start playing with all the stock items and play the game forever, if you like without a single microtransaction.
  • Of Corse they do! Who cares if people want to pay their own money for a skin? It's when they can pay for a BFG is when we care! This isn't news, this is what we have been saying this whole time!
  • The point of the article, though, is that the survey would seem to indicate that the people truly angry about play-to-win microtransactions is a remarkably small minority.  In other words, there's more "show" than "go" when it comes to complaining about microtransactions.  
  • Once again this article is badly written. If you look at the study most actually are against the BF2 bs. When 68% is saying "cosmetic is OK" they are basically saying pay-to-win is not. When 5.8% says they never bought it, it could also mean that they don't support microtransactions. When ~2% say "I'd rather pay upfront" it means that they rather pay one initial price and not deal with microtransacions. ONLY around 1% like microtransactions.
  • This seems obvious. Gamer's like video games enough to buy them, and they like additional content enough to buy that as well. The issue is about whether or not the extra content is done in a healthy way for the community. A weapon or device that makes someone have an advantage over others in a competitive game is probably unhealthy for the community. Cosmetic or convenience items dont tend to have that effect, and are generally healthy ways to have microtransaction (see "skins" in most modern games with microtransactions), with some exceptions (for instance, if a part of the game is so inconvenient that the convenience mechanism purchase is mandatory, such as crafting bagspace in ESO).
  • I don't think there is "healthy" microtransactions in full price $60-100 games. If they want to have free2play economics they should make free2play games. Simple.
  • Why should I care about them if someone wants spend money for them than it's their decision they gain no advantage by this
  • 1) Because it's mobile style free2play economics used in a full price $60-100 game. 2) Because the priority is no longer make great game and hope that gamers love it but more make a
    game and try to tempt gamers to spend more and more money once they payed the $60-100 entry fee. 3) Because in the past we used to get cosmetic items for free. And visuals are part of the gaming experience. 4) Because gameplay is most probably changed or adjusted to turn gamers into
     payers. You are constantly advertised and sold stuff.  5) It's no longer about making a great game and moving on to make another, it's about making a lot fewer games and try to get as much money from each as possible.
  • "Surprisingly, only 22 percent had an issue with pay-to-win "toxic" microtransactions." Seriously people?  I have no issue with cosmetic stuff, but only 22% for the BF2 fiasco?
  • That was shocking to me the most. I honestly thought more people cared. I guess that's why EA is bringing them back.
  • Truth is, gamers who track gaming news, who like to "express" themselves on the internet are the minority.
    1000 people or 500 people complain in a post looks a lot but in reality... billions vs 1k...
    Okami / Shadow of the Colossus is a master piece, critics & fans love it, pushing it to people every time they see a chance but in reality...
    People who says FYK... you know nothing.
    People think they beat Battlefront 2... find a way to see their earning. We have our own research team. They constantly pay & bring in people for in-depth interview, coop with other enterprises, organizations, buy datas... instead of random joe's complain... research data is the only thing more trustworthy.
    People come to the internet to warm / back each other up after a day of hard work. It's not really a bad thing tbh.
  • The survey says 1.3% actually like microtransactions.  You can come up with your own numbers based on nothing really but can you say most gamers want them? 
  • The article is badly written. If you look at the study most actually are against the BF2 bs. When 68% is saying "cosmetic is OK" they are basically saying pay-to-win is not. When 5.8% says they never bought it, it could also mean that they don't support microtransactions. When ~2% say "I'd rather pay upfront" it means that they rather pay one initial price and not deal with microtransacions. ONLY around 1% like microtransactions.