Wallet Fatigue: Are Microtransactions Draining the Mana from MMOs?

Do microtransactions create shortcuts for gamers in MMOs or just allow them to buy pointless stuff?

Microtransactions are a popular thing among modern video games. They allow players to acquire certain attributes in exchange for "real life" currency. From clothing, to accessories, the possibilities are endless. Some gamers absolutely hate the idea of microtransactions because they believe that video game companies are nothing but greedy corporations that milk the gaming industry for every single penny that they can get. Others however, don't really care about microtransactions because they aren't forced and don't change the base game in any dramatic way.

These miniature DLCs are available across all genres of games, particularly MMOs like Runescape, WoW, Marvel Heroes, and many more. But are they actually a big deal?

Solomon's General Store, a site portal where Runescape players can purchase in-game items with either RuneCoins or real money.

World of Warcraft

The idea of microtransactions can tick off people who play MMOs, mainly if they are subscribing to the game, like WoW. They are already paying a monthly fee just to play the game, so why should they pay extra for something else? The truth is is that they don't really have to. No one is forcing them, and it's not like the items being sold are giving a huge advantage to those who do purchase them. It's their right as gamers and as consumers to make the necessary decision to pay or not to pay.

One of many microtransactions available in WoW.

Marvel Heroes

There are however games like Marvel Heroes that are free to play, but also have microtransactions in them. Pertaining to this specific title, players can outright purchase Marvel superheroes in order to play as them (along with many other various items that enhance their experience). That however, might be seen as a small problem because these specific microtransactions are allowing players to shortcut the game and unlock characters without having to grind for them. Obviously, they have an advantage because they have stronger or better characters unlike people who did not spend any money on the game.

On a side note, a post by a Reddit user shows how much money he has spent on Marvel Heroes 16, and what he bought. You can get the basic idea of what kind of microtransactions this game has in it.

A store where players can purchase characters in Marvel Heroes 5.


The idea of microtransactions obviously has its ups and downs. The money that players spend is used to fund the game, and further expand content in the forms of updates, patches, etc. That is a good thing since gameplay experience is enhanced, and allows players to continue engaging the game. It's also a business, and that's how a business works.

Also, microtransactions are completely unnecessary. Most, if not all games have ingame currencies that players can grind for and use that instead of real money to purchase the exact same content. Obviously that's better, but slower due to the grinding aspect.

Unfortunately, there are also downsides. Players feel cheated. They paid either full price for the game, or are paying a monthly subscription fee, so why should they pay extra? It doesn't seem fair.

Depending on the game, it may also seem unfair, or pay to win, because players are getting something better or faster (in a term of a shortcut) by spending a lot of money on the game. Those who don't pay feel cheated, and you can't blame them, because why should they pay to get on the same level as those who did pay? That ain't right.

In the end, it's the players' choice. To purchase, or not to purchase -- that is the question. But remember, if you are paying for microtransactions, you are paying for something little that enhances your gaming experience, unless it's something like whole new content like characters in Marvel Heroes.

Header image from tacticalgaming.net


Long time gamer (15 years+). Most favorite title is either Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. Prefer single player games to multiplayer games, but occasionally play them as well. Proud owner of N64 and Nintendo SNES.

Published Jun. 18th 2020

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