SuperData: Add-on content sales are taking over the traditional one-time purchase model

Revenue from microtransactions in free-to-play PC titles is to reach $22bn (£16.4bn) in 2017 – a 15.7 per cent growth compared to last year, according to SuperData.

Meanwhile, revenue from additional content for PC and console games will be on a par with last year, reaching $5bn (£3.7bn), and full games (both PC and console) will generate $8bn (£5.9bn) in revenue in 2017 (like last year), the report adds. 

Compared to 2012, revenue derived from microtransactions in free-to-play PC titles has doubled (see graph below), as it reached $11bn that year, before plateauing at $17bn for a few years and is now going to reach $22bn. SuperData predicts that it’s going to reach $25bn (£18.7bn) by 2022.

In the meantime, revenue from PC and console additional content has increased 150 per cent compared to 2012 figures, and revenue for full PC and console games has grown 60 per cent during the same period.

“Although gamers are quick to complain that publishers are excessively monetising additional content for games, players continue to support service-based monetisation with their wallets,” the report read. “Add-on content sales are increasingly out-earning the traditional one-time purchase model, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. PC and console game publishers, who are aware that each segment has a finite audience, are looking for ways to further monetise both the existing audience and find new ways to attract new consumers by lowering the entry barriers. For many platforms and games, this has been wildly successful.”

Looking at FIFA 17’s model, SuperData’s report also showed how revenue from additional content has slowly been taking over revenue from the full game (see graph below). It added that “[FIFA’s] strategy mirrors Battlefront II, but with some key exceptions. And it’s those exceptions that can make or break the game’s success.”

Still discussing EA’s strategy, SuperData added: “EA has a ways to go in fully understanding gamers’ appetites for microtransactions in different games. Activision’s Call of Duty franchise has consistently over-performed EA’s Battlefield in microtransactions by relying on character customisation and weapons. However, EA have by no means been the first to get burned by what appears to consumers as money-grubbing techniques. Players of Assassin’s Creed Unity pushed back against what they saw as Ubisoft’s high-priced microtransaction shortcuts: they ultimately earned only 7% of the game’s additional content revenue.”

About Marie Dealessandri

Marie Dealessandri is MCV’s former senior staff writer. After testing the waters of the film industry in France and being a radio host and reporter in Canada, she settled for the games industry in London in 2015. She can be found (very) occasionally tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate, Hollow Knight and the Dead Cells soundtrack.

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