Have you ever wondered why most mobile games are pay to win?
Pay to win is a practice where the users are rewarded with perks that are beneficial to them but at the same time they put everyone else in a difficult position. The player who benefits from a pay to win scheme is given advantages compared to other players that do not get them.
Pay to win advantages are obtained by spending real money in the game’s environment and since the term clearly states that this is a pay to “win”, the term applies mostly to player versus player games where you are given advantage over other players.
There are also competitive games that have a similar scheme where you are undoubtably given advantage over other players. Stuff like more power, more ammunition, faster movement and pretty much everything that gives you an advantage over someone else is considered to be pay to win however, since you actually lose in a competitive game if another player has these unfair benefits, players have come to consider only PVP based games for pay to win ones since because of their nature, if another player is paying for stuff in game, they are in an advantage regarding the players.
But what is the case? Why is this a common practice in the world of mobile gaming? Clearly nobody likes this except maybe for the people who have no skill whatsoever and no other ways to win in a videogame but, I consider that people like those are in minority since there is a type of game for everybody and if you’re not good in one game, you must certainly are in another one.
So why does this keep happening?
Most of the mobile games are free and they need a way to make money.
This is the root of the problem. Mobile gaming is not the same basket as console and PC gaming. No matter what anybody says, these two are totally different. If you compare people who play games on their smart phones with somebody who plays on computer or a console, the chances are that the console and PC player are going to protest against that and explain to you how they are not the same. And I completely agree.
Mobile games are usually nothing more than mindless pastimes, games with no substance, no deeper or complex game mechanics. No thrilling story, no lovable characters, just cheap arcady games that are put together quickly for people who don’t want to spend too much time in a videogame, people who do not want to invest anything in these games and people who just want to play the game while they are for example waiting in a line for a couple of moments. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Because of this, mobile games are usually made free to play and download while other games can cost up to $100 depending on where you live and which addition of the game you want to own. This is the major thing and the biggest difference because, when you buy a game, you paid for it, you get what’s in there and that’s it. In the mobile games world, you don’t have to pay for anything, the games are free to download and play and no one guarantees that the people who put their time into making those games are going to get anything.
It’s not cheap to make videogame, mobile or other kind
Because these games are free to download, they have to have some kind of way to earn money. This is precisely why micro-transactions and pay to win mechanics are common in mobile games.
While you pay for other games instantly, mobile games need to have a constant stream of revenue because video games cost up to $100, but mobile games rely on smaller transactions that usually go for as low as one dollar. These are called micro-transactions and they are the root of pay to win.
I’m not trying to justify pay to win, absolutely hate it but, at the same time I understand what some game developers would put them into their games. However I assure you that paid when systems are nothing more than poorly thought out revenue systems.
There are countless games that are free to play and download that offer in game purchases and that are doing just fine for years now. Think of games like League of Legends that is completely free to play yet, it offers in game purchases of new heroes and cosmetic items for those characters.
The game has 0 pay to win elements and it is considered to be one of the best competitive games of all time.
So, in short, well micro-transactions necessity, they don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. They can be something to add up to the games experience, to allow you to make a unique character, or personalize your loadout with different skins, animations or whatever. If they allow you to directly influence the flow of the game, to make yourself more powerful and above the others, it is simply a poor game design.