Final Project: Annotated Bibliography

  • Evers, Ellen R. K., et al. “The Hidden Cost of Microtransactions: Buying In-Game Advantages in Online Games Decreases a Player’s Status.” International Journal of Internet Science, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 20-36. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=112227197&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

This article from an academic journal provides research on whether the use of microtransactions affects how players perceive another player using them, based on “social psychological theories on social comparisons, deservedness, and envy.” After conducting one survey and two experimental scenario-studies with active gamers as participants, the results show evidence of gamers disliking those who use microtransactions, especially those buy functional benefits rather than ornamental ones. This study shows how video game communities can turn toxic due to the presence of microtransactions, demonstrating one way that microtransactions can negatively influence a video game.

An op-ed that discusses how the game Overwatch handles microtransactions, and why it’s better than paid DLC. The author’s opinion is debatable, but I do agree with his statement that “cosmetic micro-transactions seem like a much more pro-consumer move than paid DLC.” Overwatch is one of the more positive examples of microtransactions in video games, since the purchases are purely cosmetic options. However, even a less-predatory game like Overwatch can negatively affect players who are prone to gambling habits, for Overwatch has a lootbox system that counts as gambling. If even Overwatch can unintentionally exploit players, then surely games with more predatory microtransaction systems will have even more devastating effects on these players.

  • King, Chelsea. “Forcing Players to Walk the Plank: Why End User License Agreements Improperly Control Players’ Rights Regarding Microtransactions in Video Games.” William & Mary Law Review, vol. 58, no. 4, Mar. 2017, pp. 1365-1401. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=122981124&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Another article from an academic journal that discusses the end user license agreements that “control players’ rights regarding microtransactions in video games.” The article analyzes one incident from the game League of Legends, in which a character (and any content a player may have bought that was related to the character) was suddenly removed during an event. This incident garnered attention to the issue of game developer companies having “complete, unilateral control over access to content purchased through microtransactions.” Thus, we are shown that companies can manipulate what content players have access to through microtransactions, sometimes taking away from even those who already paid for bonus content.

  • Reiner, Andrew. “Star Wars Battlefront II: The Dark Side of Gaming”. Game Informer. November 14, 2017. GameStop. http://www.gameinformer.com/games/star_wars_battlefront_ii/b/xboxone/archive/2017/11/14/star-wars-battlefront-ii-review-the-dark-side-of-gaming.aspx. Accessed March 4, 2018.

A review of the infamous Star Wars Battlefront II, which garnered huge backlash from the gaming community due to how EA handled the game’s microtransactions. It is clear that the game heavily favored those who purchased loot boxes, since that gives them more gameplay bonuses and more in-game currency to buy characters and bonuses. I feel that this case is important to bring up as a prime example of one of the worst ways a company could handle microtransactions.

  • Snider, Mike. “‘Microtransactions’ Add up for Online Games.” USA Today, n.d. EBSCOhost, login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=J0E403707965010&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

An article that gives an overview of how a few games handle microtransactions, whether it’s an iPhone game or a subscription-required game for the PC. Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex (a U.K. publisher), states that his company doesn’t treat player differently based on how much they spend in Jagex games. Gerhard also mentions that one of the top 3 players in War of Legends, a web-based strategy game that Jagex published, has “played for 17,000 hours and never paid for a day.” Even if this player never spent a penny in the game, this raises the issue of how multiplayer games can extort not just money, but also time from their players by incentivizing them to climb up the ranks through spending huge chunks of time in the game. If players spend excessive time in such games, then microtransactions would indirectly affect players’ health as well.