Fair Play? An Investigation of Player Attitudes, Purchase Behavior and Ethics Surrounding Microtransactions in Digital Games
The research addresses the topic of microtransactions in digital games. Microtransactions refer to in-game purchases of additional downloadable content and/or virtual goods that can extend or enhance the playerU+2019s experience in a game. This monetization strategy has important advantages for players, as they allow game companies to keep the initial prices of their games low (or even offer their games for free) and players only pay for additional content that they are interested in. Despite this, the microtransaction model has also caused a storm of controversy, with both consumers and legislators voicing their concerns and calling for the (self-)regulation of these microtransactions on the grounds that they can be unfair, predatory and linked to gambling, manipulating or U+2018trickingU+2019 players into making a purchase. These concerns are especially problematic considering that minors also come into contact with digital games containing microtransactions in a frequent manner. However, academic research has never investigated the impact of microtransactions in games on (young) players before. Therefore, by combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods, our project aims to analyze the types of microtransactions that are present in games, the current state of (state) regulations surrounding these microtransactions, how they are evaluated, the psychological effects they have on (young) players, and whether they are fair and ethical to all parties involved.