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More bacon guns? Console game microtransactions more popular than map packs

Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Bacon Personalization Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops II - Bacon Personalization Pack
Photo courtesy of Activision, used with permission

Console gamers that loathe the invasion of microtransactions don’t have much to cheer about with a new report released Thursday by SuperData Research. The outfit broke down the current state of the digital marketplace on console and found that microtransactions are more popular than traditional DLC map packs and expansion packs.

First-person shooters like “Call of Duty” plus the open-world “Grand Theft Auto V” are the driving force behind the rise in microtransactions on consoles, according to SuperData. GTA V alone has reached more than $30 million in microtransaction revenue since the game’s multiplayer launched in October 2013.

Per the data released, microtransaction spending on “new weapons or upgrades” was the most popular at 55 percent followed by “vanity items” at 36 percent and “vehicles or upgrades” at 33 percent. Expansion packs were only purchased by 32 percent of those surveyed and map packs only be 26 percent.

This research suggests that game consumers will see more and more microtransactions integrated with their games versus DLC content. This is due in large part because creating a bacon skin for guns in your games is cheaper than building an entire map or story-driven expansion.

PopCap Games managed to recognize this with “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.” The Xbox One and Xbox 360 title has released two DLC packs for free so far that include maps and new customization items. However, there is an option for players to spend real money in-game to purchase coins which can then be spent on customization items and class variations. This setup allows PopCap to offer DLC for free while still generating extra revenue.

Another upcoming title that is being built around the idea of microtransactions is “Destiny” from Bungie for the PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. The developer has already indicated that it plans to allow players to purchase items that will change the look of their characters or weapons but won’t affect the gameplay.

As long as game developers can keep their microtransactions focused on cosmetic items, the reaction from console gamers is generally indifference. However, microtransactions that unlock items faster or give players boosts in full-priced games are usually looked upon with disfavor. The launch of “Forza Motorsport 5” for the Xbox One is one recent example where the game was perceived to be purposefully grind-y to encourage players to purchase cars with real money.

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