Nearly half of gamers call for restrictions on Microtransactions

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  • 33% of gamers purchased a microtransaction (MTX) or loot box at least once a week, with 25-34 year olds most likely to purchase (45%) 
  • Xbox users are slightly more likely to make in-game purchases than PlayStation owners 
  • Call of Duty was labelled the worst offender for MTX by almost a third (29%) of gamers
 
Almost half (49%) of gaming fans agree that an 18+ age limit should be set for pay-to-access content, according to new research.

The survey, commissioned by gaming publisher, WePC, reveals how gamers are feeling since the pandemic and follows the recent investigation on loot boxes in Belgium, as more European authorities consider banning them altogether.

Microtransactions and gambling 

Over a third (33%) of UK gamers purchase a microtransaction or loot box at least once a week, with nearly 1 in 10 (8%) spending over £100 on each purchase occasion. Younger gamers aged 16-24 admitted to spending £17 above the national average of £36. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of this age group also claimed their gaming expenditure in general has seen an increase during the pandemic.

Although a large majority of respondents (69%) agreed that loot boxes promote gambling to younger gamers, only 19% called for them to be banned altogether. Users felt that along with the age limit, a cap on the amount that could be spent (43%) and restrictions on the impact paid content has on core gameplay (26%) would be more effective. Call of Duty was ranked the nation’s least favourite microtransaction offender (29%), followed by FIFA (28%) and Candy Crush (26%)

But some gamers claim it depends on the game in question.

“In COD, your MTX are based around gun skins and animations, so it doesn’t directly affect your abilities to play,” says Leeds-based gamer, Josh Allen.

“FIFA, on the other hand, makes multiplayer experiences so much worse. You can play against someone who has paid to have a better team, which makes them impossible to beat, even if they’re less skilled at the game. That’s why I’ve given up playing FIFA altogether. COD, on the other hand, you can pay for aesthetic but winning is still based on skill.”

Leeds was revealed to be the capital city of microtransactions too (42%), followed closely by Brighton (41%) and London (39%).

Plymouth’s gaming community were the least likely to make in-game purchases (21%), along with Glasgow (23%) and Southampton (24%).

Post-pandemic gaming  

Whilst restrictions may have started easing in the UK, reduction in social interaction has had both a financial and emotional impact on gamers.

Nearly half (47%) have admitted their gaming expenditure has increased during the pandemic, with the majority of money going to new video games (38%), online subscriptions (19%) and gaming equipment (19%).

Around 1 in 5 Xbox, Mobile, Nintendo and PC gamers say they spend most of their gaming expenditure on microtransactions.

However, it was Nintendo users that spent the most on loot boxes compared to any other console, with an average of £56 spent per purchase. PC gamers followed closely behind, spending an average of £51 per MTX.

Sophie, an avid Animal Crossing fan and regular Nintendo gamer, has doubled her gaming expenditure since restrictions first came into place last year.

“I’m playing more games so making my way through my library quicker. I’m also buying games so that I can play online with friends and fill in that social gap.”

Will Blears, Marketing Director at WePC said:

 “As gamers ourselves, we understand that gaming is skill-based experience and it’s clear from the research that gamers are currently forced to buy into MTX and loot boxes to gain advantages within that experience.” 

“The European laws coming into place highlight the concern that is clear, from our survey data, is echoed around the gaming community. Loot boxes could definitely be a gateway into the darker side of gambling and creators need to factor in safety to make sure gaming continues to be enjoyable for all.” 

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