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Getting Gaming Microtransactions Right: What Can We Learn from EA?

By: Scott Davis
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Last week, EA caused a stir over the monetization approach for its Star Wars Battlefront II. The gaming community felt EA overstepped its bounds in how and what it asked customers to buy in-game. Not only did this impact EA, but it also impacted other gaming companies, who saw their stocks dip as well.

Despite EA’s mistake, we believe it’s just a blip in the road and that microtransactions are here to stay. Microtransactions are important, because they enable publishers to deliver an ongoing service rather than a single one-and-done product, which is what gamers increasingly want. We know this full-well from our study conducted with SuperData Research earlier this year. It showed that Free-to Play (F2P) monetization skyrocketed from $11 billion in 2012 to $22 billion in 2017, and that gamers expect more follow up content after initial game purchases for premium games like Star Wars. It’s like adding a new chapter to an existing book – gamers get excited and it further connects them to the game.

Microtransactions in Games

Not only do gamers get more of what they want when microtransactions are available, gaming companies rake in the dough. Our research estimates that from 2016 to 2020, we’ll see a 15% growth in audience base and 41% growth in revenue.


Online game revenue growth

What should EA do now?

Listen intently to their customers, a good lesson for everyone. EA shouldn’t by any means eliminate microtransactions, but rather balance its approach. Remember, in any industry, there are competitors lurking ready to pounce if you alienate your customers. It’s important for EA to revise their approach to support its customers’ desires and keep them on board for the long haul.

EA’s approach with respect to this particular game may have tipped the scales, but this episode will serve as a course correction for them and other gaming companies. As EA learned, it’s important to put the customer at the center of any monetization strategy, and take feedback into account in order to ensure long-term service. It’s also equally important for companies to have in place the technology to be able to quickly scale and course correct as needed while the industry fine tunes its strategy for meeting customer demands.

Learn more about how Digital River partners with online game publishers to build monetization strategies, customer engagement and global payment capabilities.