DLC and Microtransactions: New Study Shows How Gamers Feel About Them

How do you feel about microtransactions and DLC?

76 Comments

[UPDATE] A spokespeson for the NPD Group told GameSpot that questions on the survey asked about portable, PC, and console games, as well as smartphone titles, "but only within the context of those who purchase additional content for the core systems."

As for specific games featured in the survey, NPD Group asked microtransaction-themed questions about Battleborn, Destiny, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Grand Theft Auto V, and Halo 5: Guardians. Questions pertaining to DLC were asked about titles like Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens, and Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Mobile games featured in the study included Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Jelly Saga, Clans of Clans, Game of War: Fire Age, and Pokemon Go.

This is not a comprehensive list of games asked in the study, but only an example of some of them.

The original story is below.

Microtransactions continue to be one of the most talked-about elements of games today. Today, the NPD Group has released the results of a study that shines a light on how people feel about them.

The study, "DLC and Microtransaction Purchasing," found that among the entire US population of men and women aged 13-54, 28 percent have purchased extra content in the past three months. Males and teens were the primary drivers of purchases, according to the report. Additionally, the study found that people are more likely to spend money on microtransactions (23 percent) than downloadable content (16 percent).

No Caption Provided

As you might imagine, price is the leading factor when people are thinking about spending money on microtransactions and DLC. Here are some related takeaways from the survey, as written by NPD:

  • Close to half of non-purchasers of microtransactions are not willing to spend any money on them
  • 48 percent felt the content was not worth the extra expense
  • Half of non-DLC purchasers stated the DLC was not worth the money
  • 16 percent believe the extra content should have been included in the full game price

The study went on to say that the preferred method of unlocking extra content in a game is to spend virtual currency on it. However, 78 percent of respondents said they would consider spending money to buy microtransactions to get things like weapons and power-ups, among other things. A key consideration here is that the likelihood of a person spending money on extra content is also tied into how much that person enjoys a particular game and the cost of the add-on content.

Here are some other findings:

  • Attitudes towards mictrotransactions are mostly positive, with the majority (77 percent) claiming to like that microtransactions allow them to extend their enjoyment of a particular game
  • 68 percent believe the pay-to-win aspect of microtransactions within gaming is unfortunate

The survey also asked people why they buy DLC in the first place. Some of the top reasons included wanting to play with friends who have the same DLC, a desire to have all available content, and the feeling that the price of the content in question was "reasonable."

Although "most" found microtransaction prices to be "reasonable," more than half said they would be more incentivized to buy if prices were lower.

"Spending on microtransactions and DLC is currently healthy, but game publishers and developers must not lose sight of the importance of looking at areas that will stimulate spending growth without compromising real and perceived value of the content they're providing," NPD Group analyst Sam Naji said in a statement.

The NPD report does not mention any specific games that respondents were surveyed about. As gamers are well aware, not every title handles microtransactions and DLC the same.

Microtransactions are commonplace in gaming today across console, PC, and smartphone. In the case of Grand Theft Auto V, the game's microtransactions for GTA Online have reportedly brought in more than $500 million in revenue. One game that apparently won't have them is Resident Evil 7.

This survey included responses from 8,893 people, including 2,470 people who actually spent money on microtransactions and/or DLC. The survey was conducted online from August 19 to September 2.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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dark_420

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Edited By dark_420

"Zero microtransactions purchased to-date Crew" checkin in

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naryanrobinson

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Edited By naryanrobinson

“but only within the context of those who purchase additional content for the core systems.”

Oh gee that little bitty seems a tad important don't you think?

You wanted to see what gamers thought about microtransactions, so you only asked the gamers who use them?

Why not go to a Donald Trump rally and surprise yourself with how many people there like him?

Stupid.

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Heqteur

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Edited By Heqteur

Those stats don't make much sense. And those parts where the article says stuff like "most people say that" or "more than a half". Come on guys. You have those studies'numbers. Give us those actual numbers rather than being as imprecise as you can be... ah yeah... i get it... saying 51% has much less impact than "most" or more than a half...

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johncas89

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Edited By johncas89

Depends. I'm fine with DLC so long as it isn't too overpriced and lives up to expectations.

Microtransactions, sure... but just for cosmetic s***

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TimmyDKJR

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It's a business model. If you can't or don't want it then don't buy it. Deal with it. :)

Lol @ the self entitlement oozing from people's comments below.

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Heqteur

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Edited By Heqteur

@TimmyDKJR: i agree with the business model. People don't want to realize it, but today's games cost much more to produce than those 60$ nes games from back then and they are so much bigger. Still, people refuse to pass the psychological step of spending those 60$ on one game so, yeah, the devs needed ways to trick people into paying more. And it'working well because them whales are wasting much more than 60 into any F2P.

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TimmyDKJR

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Edited By TimmyDKJR

@heqteur: Yeah that was my point. You get lynched for dropping this truth bomb on people for some reason. The amount of devs that need to work on every little aspect of the complex games, or the artists that needs to draw every little foliage, or maybe even the music guys (dunno what their called) and the voice actors who have to act out every grunt. That's just the development of the game. There are marketing costs and other stuff as well. It's just the way the world works right now.

We couldn't do these before so the game development teams back then were far smaller. Now that we can do this, they're far bigger and people still expect 60 USD every time with no repercussion. It's just not going to happen.

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Avatar image for deactivated-589dfdc7a4ac0
deactivated-589dfdc7a4ac0

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@TimmyDKJR: Gamers have the right to express their opinions, even 'opportunists' with vested interests in microtransactions.

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TimmyDKJR

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@akhirahim: Meh. Still pathetic about whining and moaning like entitled bitches. "Back in the day you get all this for free". In the end, market decides what happens. Humans are not entitled to get "everything" in the video games they are BUYING from someone else.

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deactivated-589dfdc7a4ac0

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@TimmyDKJR: Are you a developer? Did you get what I meant when I wrote 'opportunists'?

Doesn't matter. Many large companies like EA have felt the dissatisfaction when they mistreat cunsumers. Gamers have more influence than they are lead to believe, and if enough of us stand up against microtransactions, they will no choice but to adhere to consumer demands. Peace.

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TimmyDKJR

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Edited By TimmyDKJR

@akhirahim: There's not enough people. This place is a vocal minority. A crap ton of gamers don't bother with these types of forums. It's not going to realistically happen. People here already know what we want and how we want it.

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Kraven1845

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I don't have a lot of exp. with micro transactions but it's usually seems like character skins or accesories. In that regard it doesn't bother me, I still won't bite, though. If it's pay to win micro transactions, it's BS. Dlc... I hate dlc. Very rarely is it ok, like the last of us story dlc. But most of the time it feels like content purposefully left out. I hate to say it because I was looking forward to this game but the new deus ex was the last straw for me. What an empty experience followed up by story dlc one week after release? I traded that shit right after I beat it and haven't looked back. That series is dead to me now. Also very turned off by dlc for Lego games. It's literally the only reason I haven't bought the force awakens.

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BigDaddysHouse

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Edited By BigDaddysHouse

@Kraven1845: In order to get the full experience on most games now you have to drop upwards of an extra $100+ on DLC packs and micros alone. People don't realize that before purchasing a new game. This is why I stay away from games like WWE. Just be a smart shopper and have patience and don't buy something on day one if you know It's going to drop in price. I waited until black Friday and got a few big high profile games like Gears 3, Doom and Mafia 3 for 60% off.

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jinzo9988

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Edited By jinzo9988

I don't have a problem with microtransactions if it's done correctly and if it's done for a game that deserves my money quite frankly. I use this example time and time again but I paid $80 Canadian for Doom and played for 12 hours. I paid $60 for Overwatch and played for over 100 hours. If Overwatch has an option for microtransactions and I think they're worth it... then what's the issue?

Where it starts becoming an issue is when the game design itself is clearly revolved around it as a necessary purchase. You see this a lot with free to play games in particular.

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BoxOfPocky

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OH SURPRISE! No one likes DLC and microtransactions... go fucking figures! We obviously needed a study to prove the fucking obvious.

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bigrob007

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@BoxOfPocky: the study isn't for our benefit Einstein. it's done for investors with stake in companies like EA, Ubi, And T2. some of them are very disconnected from the products they represent, and deserve to be made aware that these dollar signs aren't representative of the discontent these practices generate.

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BoxOfPocky

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Edited By BoxOfPocky

@bigrob007: But at the end of the day do you honestly think they care? It becomes almost mandatory to buy DLCs and micro-transactions just to enjoy the game or keep up with your peers. They know people don't want to do it, but more often than not, they will end up caving in sooner or later. I'm sure a bunch of investors will flock toward the idea of losing out on potential profits. Cause so many rich people got there by being honest and charitable.

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bigrob007

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@BoxOfPocky: it's not really about them caring about our needs for the sake of keeping us happy. it's so that if things go south they can make informed decisions on how and what things to fix to increase profits further. npd makes butt loads of money by collecting compiling and presenting this info as consultants.

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firedrakes

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oddly none of the game industry will listen to the feed back.

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Steele_Johnson

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Edited By Steele_Johnson

Pay2Win has ruined online pc gaming for me. I used to love playing multiplayer games, but with all of this micro-transaction crap (and rampant cheating), I rarely play pc multiplayer games anymore. Tribes Ascend is the perfect example. Look what Hi-Rez did to that franchise. They ruined an awesome game with greed and it backfired on them anyway.

These are sad times for pc gamers.

10 • 
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Wraith3

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@steele_johnson: I think it depends. If someone can buy something that protects them more, or something to that effect, then yeah it's wrong. However giving someone in say, Battlefield 4, a really powerful gun, yet they're not the greatest player, it will have no effect. They will still get destroyed by better players. Still I don't want them selling anything that will give someone a real advantage in a game. I don't care if you have a special shiny gold skin or some BS like that.

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NovaPrime1985

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@steele_johnson: Pay2Win ruins everything its associated with.

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connorman01

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Micro transactions are the worst thing to happen to video games. I can understand paid DLC that is a good, separate addition to a game (unlike shit that should have been in the game to begin with like destiny), but micro transactions are cancer and ALWAYS only give other players an unfair advantage

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

As suspected, it's young people who don't know any better driving this trash. This stuff should be in the game for free, included in the full price. The cosmetic unlocks. The cut content sold back to you. The cheat modes. All of it.

Thank you for ruining gaming, because microtransactions NEVER enhance a game and DLC rarely is worth its asking price.

16 • 
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EdwardNygma

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@Thanatos2k: 100% agree

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BarcaAzul

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I think in general they are crap. The only additional money I spent was on the two GTA 4 DLC packs for lost and damned and gay Tony.

I hate micro transactions.

6 • 
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johno357

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@barcaazul: blòod dragon is another one

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Crusadernights

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I never buy dlc or micro transactions. I always wait for the GOTY if I feel the game is going to have a ton of dlc or very rarely buy DLC which adds a substantial amount of content.

I'll be buying the Dark Souls 3 this month and the only other DLC I have bought in the last two years was the Witcher expansion pack.

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connorman01

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@crusadernights: oh god I can not emphasise enough how worth all the Witcher 3 DLC was. I can't remember the last time a DLC was that good, especially twice in a row.

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GoingPostal13

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Edited By GoingPostal13

@connorman01: Sadly a rarity.

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deactivated-589dfdc7a4ac0

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Publishers know that the older generation of gamers don't like microtransactions. They are targeting a younger generation who might think them as 'not-that-bad'. Publishers will push these kind of unethical business practices until everybody stops complaining and microtransactions become the 'norm'.

9 • 
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yukushi

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I have never brought a microtransaction in my life and I dont ever plan to, DLCs I will buy if its a good game that gave you a lot of content for your money like witcher 3, fallout 4 etc, then you have games like grand theft auto 5 that I am literally begging them to make a damn DLC and take money but they dont want it.

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Kyelo

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Edited By Kyelo

All companies have to do is stick with it, it will become 'normal' soon enough. Children will know no different thus will always think it as being the norm...you can throw in wifi, digital sales, touchscreens etc into that as well.

A kid of 5 will expect that they can get a digital game download instantly through wifi on a touchscreen and that the game will have added extras you have to pay for.

Personally will buy Witcher 3 style packs any day of the week, other games that drip feed cut out content and other nonsense I just wait for GOTY editions.

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Thanatos2k

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@kyelo: Yeah it's the parents who usually fail their children here. Some even foolishly give the credit card number letting kids buy microtransactions whenever they want with someone else's money, priming the pump for later in life when spending money on this trash is suddenly not a big deal.

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Pyrosa

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Not a whole lot of surprises in there, except perhaps the 16%, and the 68%. Both of those seem a bit lower than I would have expected.

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Thanatos2k

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@Pyrosa: Gonna guess they included people who play mobile.

They always do, and it always ruins the statistics in these surveys.

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Archangel3371

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I like dlc and have purchased my fair share of it for a variety of games. I've never purchased microtransactions though. I don't really have a problem with them per say. If I can enjoy the game and just get things through normal gameplay then I don't really have a problem with them being available for those who want a shortcut. If I feel like I need to buy them though in order to enjoy a game then I'll just stop playing that game.

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deactivated-58183aaaa31d8

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I have never bought a microtransaction in my life and never will.

If the games industry turns to complete shit because people want to pay money for a game and then pay more money to skip most of the gameplay in said game then that is their brain dead faults. At least I can hold my head high and know that I didn't aid in its destruction.

DLC is fair enough as long as it isn't a blatant rip off. Like map packs that add almost nothing to the game and Destiny style "expansions" which were clearly cut from the base game to sell to us later.

An expansion made after the fact though (like the Witcher 3 expansions) I'll buy them any day. Skins are fair play as long as they aren't waved in your face. Rocket League for instance. Buying a few new cars for a brilliant game. No problems there.

Microtransactions are the reason F2P games are utter shit. Developers just can't resist. They just HAVE to make a ridiculously grindy game in order to force you to buy stuff. What they fail to realise is if they made a game that I WANTED to play and which was a good game in its own right they'd have people buying their stuff left right and centre. Instead I avoid them like the plague.

While I'm not a fan of DOTA it does prove a point. If you make a compelling game people WILL come and they WILL spend money.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@dexda: Dota's a funny example, because it was originally a free mod to Warcraft 3. It was "free" but in the sense that you had to buy Warcraft 3 first (which most of its players already had). They knew they'd never be able to charge for Dota 2, because it's basically Dota with better graphics so why would anyone playing Dota pay to move over. Heroes of Newerth tried to make people pay for it and that's why it failed to LoL and Dota 2.

So they had no choice but to make it free, and the microtransactions just followed onto that.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

Still have never done any microtransactions, I feel oif a game is not balanced enough without them then I don't want to throw money at it to fix that, it onyk encourages developers to build games in an unbalanced way. Luckily, sticking to offline console games due to preference, I haven't yet felt disappointed in that respect.

I've only ever bought DLC for Bloodborne because I felt the primary game was fully worth the price and honestly did want more, I plan to get Dark Souls 3 DLC and that's it as far as what I want.

I remember on the 360 they charged an additional $20 for Katamari maps, I wanted them but after hearing Japan got them included in the game for no extra cost and US had to pay because "western audiences love paying for extra content" or some crap based on the popularity of paying for premium apps on phones at the time, this made me heavily scrutinize any add-on content and it became apparent that while some developers understood how to strike a balance for price/value, many others did not and were throwing crap at the wall to see what stuck.

There was a lot of criticism around Namco and DLC back in the day: http://www.peoww.co.uk/profiteering-and-perversion-the-seedy-world-of-namco-dlc/

A lot of other games with on-disc content locked behind a paywall too, from other devs as well. I remember Ridge Racer for Vita being heavily criticized as well. First Ridge Racer game I didn't get (although 6/7 were so similar and nothing special so the series was going downhill already)

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Darth_Tyrranus

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Personally, I hate all microtransactions and refuse to buy any of them. However, I don't mind DLC if it includes a large amount of new content and it is clear that the DLC was developed after the game was published. The Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim and the Road to Gehenna DLC for the Talos Principle come to mind as great pieces of DLC.

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skemaal

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Edited By skemaal

Well given the update to this article that they included smartphone micro-transactions, this makes this survey now quite flawed. The PC/Console gaming world and the smartphone built-in app purchase world are two complete different things. It would of been better to conduct two separate surveys and compare them. The results would likely be very different.

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baltrush

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So, here is an interesting aspect of the study which seems to say something about the people responding to it (though I expect that these types of anomalies are not limited to this study):

"However, 78 percent of respondents said they would consider spending money to buy microtransactions to get things like weapons and power-ups, among other things."

BUT

"68 percent believe the pay-to-win aspect of microtransactions within gaming is unfortunate."

If we assume that buying a power-up is equivalent to pay-to-win, then 78% of people want microtransactions to buy weapons and power-ups, and 68% of people think pay-to-win is unfortunate. Even if we assume that all of the 22% of people who don't want such microtransactions also are within the 68% of people who think paying to win is unfortunate, that still leaves at least 46% of people who want to buy weapons and power-ups and also see pay-to-win as unfortunate. So nearly half of respondents would not seem to be acting consistently with their stated positions.

People are great.

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Thanatos2k

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Edited By Thanatos2k

@baltrush: Basically they hate them, but if they were available they would consider buying them because they know what would happen in a multiplayer environment if they don't

It's not hypocritical, it's just sad that they would feel strongarmed like that by despicable developers.

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Darth_Tyrranus

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@baltrush: I suspect the reasoning goes like this:

"I hate microtrasactions...but I really want to win....fine, I'll pay."

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CyberEarth

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@baltrush: Well... the thing is - people want to buy the weapons (take the easy path) without allowing others to do the same. Weapons/power-ups are useless if everyone has them as you don't gain any actual advantage.

It's a zero-sum game, filled with buyer's remorse.

I'll buy some DLC if it adds meaningful content at an appropriate price and I enjoy the title. I equate this to an expansion that I might purchase.

I do not purchase microtransactions (like weapons or power-ups). They cheapen the experience (that you PAID for) and usually force everyone to purchase or fall behind the curve. Microtransactions need to die in a fire.

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f4t4lfury

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Edited By f4t4lfury

@CallMeDuraSouka: Here is the NPD press release regarding the study. It appears they have not made the actual study public, only their findings: https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2016/latest-report-from-the-npd-group-provides-insight-into-gamers-purchasing-usage-and-perceptions-of-additional-gaming-content/

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