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SuperData Thinks Microtransactions Will Grow Slowly Over The Next Five Years

Nothing gets the Monday morning juices flowing like a new chart — or maybe that’s just me. Also, the chart in question was published last Tuesday, but hey, close enough, right?

SuperData is chiming in on the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box saga, but from the standpoint of what we’ve always known: that as much as people complain about loot boxes — and other microtransactions in both fully priced and free-to-play games — they still sure are buying a lot of them. But that might be changing, ever so slightly, in the near future.

Let’s take a look at that chart, specifically the intervals at the five-year chunks of 2012, 2017, and 2022. I’ll assume 2012 is based on factual data, 2017 is mostly factual, with a little projection, and 2022 is totally projection. I’ll also reword the verbiage to read:

  • PC and console full game = “Box sales”
  • PC and console additional revenue = “DLC/microtransactions in full-priced games”
  • PC free-to-play = “DLC/microtransactions in F2P games”

So, how do things look? About like this (all values in billions USD):

Year Box sales MT/DLC in $ games MT/DLC in F2P games Total MT/DLC total
2012 5 2 11 18 13
2017 8 5 22 35 27
2022 11 7 25 43 32

Note the explosive growth in DLC/microtransactions from 2012 to 2017, from $13b to $27b. Then notice that they all but stop from 2017 to 2022, going up just an additional $5b. Full-priced games, however? Steady as they go, from $5b to $8b to $11b.

Obviously, projections are just that — projections — and something might come along in the next five years, especially if publishers and developers think of something clever enough to replace loot boxes. That said, it’s not too hard to imagine these numbers being roughly accurate. Gamers are starting to reach the limits of what they’ll accept as microtransactions, but I also think there’s just only so many people, and so much money, to go around. Sure, a lot of low-quality games are being shoveled onto Steam, but even decent-quality F2P games (like Master X Master, Cloud Pirates, and Amazing Eternals) are also struggling to find an audience.

As we’ve said before, free-to-play isn’t the easy cash cow it used to be. We haven’t quite hit the ceiling yet, but we’re bumping up against it.

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