Microtransactions, what and why?

TL;DR: "Micro"transactions are a way of monetising virtual goods in games. Microtransactions often times don't have the customers best interest in mind and only exist to squeeze as much money out of you as possible. That's not cool.

This website focuses on PC and Console games only. Mobile games are not covered.

Premium currency, lootboxes, xp-boosts, bundles, and timed-exclusives, are a couple of the most common techniques to screw you over. Let's go over them one by one and see why they suck.

These are just a couple of examples, but keep in mind that many games don't contain just some of these, they contain all, and almost always at revolting prices.

But they are just cosmetics, who cares?

Of course most games only offer cosmetic microtransactions. They don't make you any stronger, they don't give you any advantage. But that's not the point. These monetisation practices prey on every insecurity and addictive quality you have. Gambling, fear of missing out, impulsive buying, and wanting to "fit in". All of these are psychological traits that are exploited to get you to spend all of your money.

This is only made worse when you realise that a large portion of the target audience is kids.

Cosmetics can cost very high amounts of money, often times even costing as much as entire full priced games. They do this because they know some people will buy them, and those who can't afford it are left out. Maybe you can't afford it because you're a kid and you don't have an income, or maybe you're from a country where these prices are en entire month of wages. Whatever the case might be, it sucks to miss out on cool thing because you aren't able to afford them.

If cosmetics didn't matter skins wouldn't exist, character creation wouldn't exist. Cosmetics allow you to express yourself and give you something to show off other than your skill at the game. Cosmetics are very much part of the enjoyment of the game. Perhaps you reading this don't care, but a lot of people do care.

Don't like it? Don't buy it!

If you are the type of person to not buy cosmetics items, great, but you aren't the target audience anyway. A great statistic that is very relevant here is the 80-20 rule which states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes. In this case that means that 80% of microtransactions are made by 20% of users.

These companies practically survive on a small percentage of players making them most of their money, these players are also referred to as "Whales". Whales can spend absurd amounts of money, some even thousands per year. Some of these people are rich and can afford it, others are not and are simply bad with their money for various reasons. These companies don't care, they will gladly take your money, no matter your financial position.

I want to spend money on my favorite games. I want to support them. I don't want them to fade away because the developers can no longer afford to continue working on it. It's just a shame that in many games spending money feels bad. Lootboxes that end in disappointment, purchases that require you to spend countless hours just to get your money's worth, terribly overpriced cosmetics. None of it feels good to spend money on, yet it's all over the place.

But they have to make money somehow!

Let's start off by saying; Microtransactions are not exclusive to free-to-play games. They are very present in full-priced AAA games (Even in singleplayer only games!). But let's focus on free-to-play games for the sake of this argument.

Sure, free-to-play games have to make money somehow. But does that have to be through exploitative means? Keep in mind that these games are not free-to-play because of the good will of the developers. They didn't choose to go free-to-play because they want everyone to have a chance of playing their game. They choose free-to-play because that's how they can make the most amount of money.

So what would make an acceptable form of monetisation? Direct purchase (no Premium Currencies), reasonable prices, without artificial scarcity. However this will likely result in less profit, and that's a big nono. It's no longer about what's best for the player, it's about what's best for the company.

This website sets to make you aware of different monetisation practices games might use and how they might try to exploit you as a person.

The goal is not to stop you from purchasing microtransactions. Microtransactions are not evil, they can be great way of supporting further development of a game. By all means, if you enjoy a game and you want to support the developers, buy stuff! But be aware of how much you're spending and what it is you're buying. Is that skin for that weapon you never use really worth it? Is that 60 USD bundle really a good deal? Are lootboxes even fair?
Ask yourself questions before purchasing microtransactions and evaluate if the money you're spending justifies the time you've put in to the game.

Many monetisaion pracices we see today would have been deemed unacceptable 5 years ago. What changed? And better yet, how much worse is it going to get?

Not all microtransactions are bad, but it is a shame that "micro" is no longer a descriptor.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about microtransactions, here's a few sources I can recommend:

Reading Video

How to contribute

Current there is no way to submit new games yourself. This might change in the future but at the moment the moderating overhead would simply be too much work. If you find a game with false categories you can contact Mitsiee#9370 on Discord.

The website is open source and you can contribute on GitHub at The website is written using SvelteKit with the database running on Supabase.