It wasn’t too long ago that microtransactions were considered a major scourge on the gaming world.
Many people associated the microtransaction market model with games that were imbalanced in the name of making a few quick bucks. An entire term, “pay-to-win,” was created to describe this phenomenon and to this day most Facebook games still work this way. Many games however have started mastering the art of micro-transactions, offering not power for your buck but aesthetic value instead, something people have also proven they are more than willing to pay for.
In doing so, the gaming world has also proved that despite criticisms surrounding microtransactions and the trouble with having so many individual transactions fees, it is possible for services to be provided at almost no cost, with people paying out only when they can afford to.
In many ways, this market model is a godsend to college students who often lack consistent income source but love having a chance to spend some extra money on their hobbies.
Beyond the world of gaming, micro-transactions have seen success, especially when it comes to shopping online. Paypal has made a fair amount of money acting as the moderator between consumers and needed to say eBay has made its fair share in the process too. The interesting aspect in all of this though is that it proves that on some level people are prepared to participate in paying for free services.
This recent phenomenon has opened up some entirely new methods of making money online. Since instant donations have become a seamless part of what people can now due, websites like twitch.tv have allowed thousands of people to try their luck at streaming their hobbies whether that be gaming or something else and making a fair amount of money doing so.
Some people are managing to make as much as full time jobs just streaming whatever they happen to be doing that particular day.
Using methods of mixed media such as recorded video on Youtube, streaming on Twitch and blogging on Tumblr, entire online persons have been created and funded through countless tiny microtransactions. This method of using micropayments and donations has allowed many up and coming entertainers to support themselves without having to go through other companies and get a bum deal.
Micropayments are the future in many ways, allowing a certain amount of independence for both the consumer and the provider. While the system we’re used to tends to favor people who have a decent amount of investment capital out the gate, people are finally getting their chance at a pipe dream using services like Etsy to prove just what they’re capable of doing.
Etsy allows artists to create their own store and sell whatever it is that they make online to a huge audience. Some people making items as small as buttons you can put on your backpack or purse have made huge sums starting with almost nothing at all.
Micropayments are something I hope to see having a bigger part in all of our lives in the next 20 years. While the system is far from perfected, it gives people a new way to indulge in what they love, and a new way for people to reach for a little piece of the now fading American dream.
Brian Fosdick is a senior JTC major with a minor in political science and enjoys when you send all of his hate mail/love confessions to email@example.com