When there’s a point of discussion in a particular area, such as microtransactions are in gaming, it’s easy to feel as though the controversy has somehow been resolved once the discussion quietens down a bit.

The reality of this will vary for any given situation, but in the case of microtransactions, they’re absolutely still around, though the context of their use might have gone over the last few years. However, Understanding their role in the modern gaming landscape gives a better idea of how they might have changed in this time.

Awareness and Controversy

The reality might be that it’s not about microtransactions becoming less widespread, but more about increasing awareness of them. The controversy that this has led to isn’t even contained in a general online gaming community; it’s something that has become a point of contention with various governments as they discuss clamping down on loot boxes. Loot boxes can be construed as a form of gambling without necessarily being declared as such—a payment required for a randomized prize that encourages repeated attempts to get the cosmetic or unlockable you’re hoping for.

Acceptable Areas

Microtransactions are a very lucrative business model when done right, meaning that the controversy might not be enough to prevent developers from pursuing this approach. As a result of this, there are areas where their use might be viewed as more acceptable by the general gaming community.


Cosmetics are an example of this—additions to the appearance of the playable character that don’t impact the game or progress in any way. There are entire genres, like online casino games including machine a sous that are focused around this model, meaning that those who enjoy this style of game will find microtransactions to be a regular part of the play experience.

Freemium Games

Many other mobile games as well as online casinos are prone to the presence of microtransactions, though, thanks to the freemium model. Freemium games are titles that are free to download and play but make their money through various microtransactions that cover anything from the aforementioned cosmetics to the removal of barriers that can impede progress. This is a very appealing business model for developers, allowing them to get their foot in the door by letting players experience the game for a while before then putting something in the way of that continued enjoyment—something that can be removed with a small payment.

Downloadable Content (DLC)

One aspect of this topic to consider is how larger pieces of downloadable content or expansion packs fit into the discussion. Not many people will take issue with this practice; after a game is released, developers work on more content that can later be added into the game, requiring a payment that’s much smaller than the initial price of the game. This allows more content to be added into a game, extending its life in the public eye and giving players who enjoyed the game initially a chance to keep playing something that they want to go back to.


There are many expansion packs that are celebrated by players as being the best of what a game can have to offer—The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Blood and Wine and Bloodborne: The Old Hunters being popular examples of this. However, this isn’t a practice that’s exempt from controversy. Some companies might use this as a chance to create content that’s available at the launch of the game but blocked off behind an additional payment—day-one DLC. This is controversial because it essentially only provides the full version of a game to those who are willing to pay the highest price.