Microtransactions have become a major part of gaming, especially with Free-to-Play titles becoming increasingly popular. Sure, some gamers grumble at the sight of microtransactions, but it doesn’t look like developers will be getting rid of them anytime soon. Why? Because they are huge moneymakers. The online global microtransaction market was $33.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow a further 3.6% in 2021.
One key thing you should understand about microtransaction economics is that most of the income they generate comes from the “whales.” Whales are players who spent a lot of money on microtransactions. When game publishers put microtransactions into games, they’re not expecting to make tons of money off tens of thousands of gamers making small purchases. Instead, they want to attract those select few players who will spend thousands of dollars or euros. With this in mind, today, we’re going to be looking at the gamers who spent truly insane amounts of money on in-game purchases. Let’s take a look.
The Man Who Spent $70,000 on Fate/Grand Order
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal ran a story on a 31-year-old man named Daigo who spent an eye-watering $70,000 on Sony’s Fate/Grand Order game. Daigo doesn’t regret the purchases because he said the game moves him – he loves playing it. But how did he clock up such a massive bill? He did it across several different transactions. For example, he spent $500 on buying a character, but that purchased character was too low-level for Daigo’s liking. So he then spent a further $2000 getting the character up to level 5. Level boosting isn’t uncommon for gamers who have a bit of extra cash and don’t have the time or energy to grind, but $2000 is still unusually high.
The 19 Year Old Who Spent $13,500 on Microtransactions
This one is less innocent than the last. While Daigo has no regrets about the money he spent on Fate/Grand Order, this 19-year-old Redditor called Kensgold does. Kensgold spent $13,500 on microtransactions over three years, starting when he was 16. He reportedly spent most of his money on Free-to-Play games, including Age of Warring Empire, Clash of Clans, and other games.
Kensgold wrote an open letter to EA around the time of the Star Wars Battlefront II controversy over loot boxes. He claimed he was addicted to loot boxes, so he wouldn’t be able to play Battlefront II.
$2 million on Modern War
A 59-year-old appliance store owner called Stephen Barnes reportedly spent more than $2 million on the mobile game Modern War.
When people spend a lot of money on a game, they become very attached to their purchases,
and that’s exactly what happened with Stephen Barnes. He staged a boycott with 144 clans and 6000 participants after the game publisher, Gree, changed the value of items players had bought through microtransactions. In a few cases, they actually removed items players had spent a lot of money to acquire.
The Woman Who Embezzled $6000 For Mafia Wars
54-year-old Bettysue Higgins from Maine embezzled an eye-watering $166,000 from her job at the Maine Trial Lawyers Association. She would write herself fraudulent checks and cash them to spend money on…whatever she felt like. She spent around $6000 on Mafia Wars and other free games.
The EU Law That Caused One FIFA Player to Wake Up
In 2016, the EU rolled out a new law called the General Data Protection Regulation. We won’t go into specifics, but all you need to know is this law is aimed at protecting consumer privacy and allows consumers to demand to see any data a company holds on them. Well, demand to see his data is actually what 32-year-old Michael from the UK did. He asked EA for everything they had on him, and it was only then that he realized he had spent an incredible $10,000 on FIFA over the last two years.
How did he spend such a huge amount without even realizing it? Michael said he would spend anything from 30 minutes to six hours playing the game most days. And when EA would run special events like Black Friday, TOTY, FUT Birthday, and so on, he would spend thousands of FIFA coins without thinking. Michael was alarmed to find out how much he’d spent, but he also said he has a healthy enough disposable income that his love for FIFA didn’t cause a strain on his finances. However, he did say he sympathizes with players who become addicted to microtransactions while on a low income.
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