Microtransactions have become a major monetisation model in digital games, shaping their design, impacting their player experience, and raising ethical concerns. Research in this area has chiefly focused on loot boxes. This begs the question whether other microtransactions might actually be more relevant and problematic for players. We therefore conducted a content analysis of negative player reviews (n=801) of top-grossing mobile and desktop games to determine which problematic microtransactions are most prevalent and salient for players. We found that problematic microtransactions with mobile games featuring more frequent and different techniques compared to desktop games. Across both, players minded issues related to fairness, transparency, and degraded user experience, supporting prior theoretical work, and importantly take issue with monetisation-driven design as such. We identify future research needs on why microtransactions in particular spark this critique, and which player communities it may be more or less representative of.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2022.acm.org/)