The Micro-Market system in gaming
Since June of 2011 – when Valve made Team Fortress 2 into a free game- the hottest trend in gaming is to have a game that can be supplemented- even fully supported- by the simplistic beauty that is a micro-transaction. Valve pioneered this by showcasing that a company can offer a free game and have people pay – through micro-transactions – not only the original cost of the game, but typically more than that.
What is it?
A micro-transaction is exactly what the name implies: a small transaction within the game that gives the player a game item in return for spending a small sum of money. This item could be in-game currency, new weapon, a skin for a character, a character itself – something that the player could eventually unlock with hard work, or pay a small fee to have now.
Why do it?
As explained above, it lets the player have the item they want now instead of having to work for it. For some reason, this seems to be the preferred method for gamers today. Many game companies today have realized just how much players are willing to spend to unlock in-game items, and are beginning to rely on these transactions to pay for the game instead of trying to sell the game itself.
Where can I find it?
Many companies are doing this, in nearly all variety of games. Farmville, League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, World of Tanks, and soon MechWarrior Online are some popular examples of games with an in-game micro-market.
These small transactions bring instant gratification to the user, and because of this are becoming the new system in gaming. The presence of these are making more games be free to download and play, and gives the user an option to give the company money if they enjoy it; as opposed to having to buy the game with the risk of not being pleased.