Subscriptions, DLC And Microtransactions Made Up Almost 60% Of Video Game Sales In 2021

Subscriptions, DLC And Microtransactions Made Up Almost 60% Of Video Game Sales In 2021
Image: Square Enix

It feels like the gaming community has a very complicated relationship with additional gaming purchases like DLC, microtransactions, and subscription services. We’re very much living in an era of gaming right now where they’re almost unavoidable. While we scorn the in-game transactions that feel somewhat unnecessary, we also feel a desire to support the games that we love by throwing money at them.

Microtransactions, to some, have felt like a cash grab from the very beginning. On the other hand, DLC released post-game feels more like a tactic to keep people interested in a game that’s already been out for a while. In saying that, DLC released at the same time as the game, to me personally, also feels somewhat nefarious. Especially if the DLC feels like it’s supposed to be a part of the full game. Subscriptions for online games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV Online make sense in terms of games of that scale needing money to keep servers running and people paid.

These additional gaming purchases make sense if we consider the fact that companies like making money. And with more big companies trying their best to convince people that NFTs in games are actually very epic and awesome, this fact becomes more obvious. Shocking, right?

With the new year coming through, publishers and analysts alike are starting to release the last dregs of data from last year. This data includes the revenue for the gaming industry last year which, according to the executive director of market research company The NPD Group Mat Piscatella, saw a boom in terms of profit made from DLC, microtransactions, and gaming subscriptions in the US.

While we don’t have the numbers for Australia, it’s probably fair to say that the figures in the US are a fairly good indicator of how money is made in the gaming industry. As mentioned by Piscatella, this figure suggests that more developers and publishers will probably move in the direction of DLC, microtransactions, and gaming subscriptions in the future if they want to keep up.

This is pretty unsurprising. We’re seeing more and more games, online multiplayer games, in particular, strive for ongoing success. If they want to keep people playing their games, they have to add more content. If they want to add more content, they’re likely to put a price tag on it. This isn’t necessarily an inherently bad thing, as they’ve got to make money somehow (especially if it’s a free-to-play game), but the obvious success of adding these additional purchases could see companies moving away from games that don’t allow for the inclusion of such transactions. Considering there are many great games that don’t have any in-game purchases, that would fucking suck!


  • It would be good to see those numbers broken down further considering that subscriptions, DLC and microtransactions are all different things which mostly serve very different sorts of games.

  • And this is the primary reason I’ve spent less in the last few years on gaming, I do not support the DLC/micro farm that is running rampent, and I will only sub for WoW when it is well developed.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!