Despite the warranted backlash and generally negative reaction to AAA gaming’s increasing efforts to integrate micro-transactions into their games, it seems that revenue generated from these in-game monetary schemes will only increase as time goes by. According to a report published by market analysts Juniper Research — which itself titles its findings: “In-Game Gambling: The Next Cash Cow for Publishers” — loot boxes and skin gambling could potentially fetch more than $50 billion in revenue by the year 2022. That’s an estimated increase of more than $20 billion likely to be earned from such practices this year alone.
Unsurprisingly, this increase in generated revenue is in large parts consolidated to the region of China and other Far East-classed countries which, according to Juniper’s findings, make up around two thirds of all revenue. The continued implementation of micro-transactions by some AAA publishers has been added to, they conclude, by the reintroduction of F2P (free-to-play) models, particularly on the PC platform.
While there have been some efforts around the globe to regulate and even clamp down on this predatory practice, sadly proceedings remain unchanged. Though companies like Apple have introduced new policies stating that any mobile game or app that implements micro-transaction models, such as loot-boxes, must state the probability rate of obtaining specific items, the same can’t be said sadly for the ESRB or ESA respectively when it comes to the video game industry itself. Companies like EA, Activision, Warner Bros, even Ubisoft as of late, have all been in the news for the wrong reasons in regards to their games integrating some form of in-game purchasing. The former, most notably, suffering perhaps one of the biggest consumer backlashes in recent times via the alleged pay-to-win progression system found in last year’s Star Wars Battlefront II.
While they agree that more should be done to clamp down on this toxic industry practice — particularly the skin gambling side of things where children as young as eleven have even admitted to partaking in some form of gambling process — Juniper concede that this is sadly an unlikely scenario with companies like Valve reluctant to clamp down, even generating income for themselves via commission on any weapon skin (in games like CS: GO for example) traded through such things like the Steam Marketplace. Love them or loathe them, though different publishers have addressed community unrest in their own “unique” ways, needless to say one should be extremely skeptical on any future practices coming from the industry’s biggest publishers.