In-Game Purchases

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What Does In-Game Purchases Mean?

In-game purchases refer to items or points that a player can buy for use within a virtual world to improve a character or enhance the playing experience. The virtual goods that the player receives in exchange for real-world money are non-physical and are generally created by the game’s producers. In-game purchases are the primary means by which free-to-play games produce revenue for their makers.

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Techopedia Explains In-Game Purchases

Revenue from in-game purchases provides incentive for developers to update a game frequently, expanding play options as well as the products available. This develop-as-you-go approach contrasts with original online games such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games, where a complete virtual world was created by a team and then launched, and players pay a subscription or upfront fee for the client software. An increasing number of online games have been adding in-game purchases because virtual goods from such games are already being sold in a black market that occurs over auction sites. This black market exchange of virtual goods has alerted developers to the considerable demand for such products. Recent times have seen the introduction of loot boxes, where players buy a box containing unknown virtual goods. This combination of random rewards for real money has led critics to accuse them of being akin to gambling, with some believing they are more suited to environments like online casinos than video games.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.