Striking The Balance: A Big Social Data Analytics Study of Consumer Acceptance of Microtransactions in the Video Game Industry

Mathias Vildbrad Hottrup & Niklas Alexander Shern

Student thesis: Master thesis


The continuous growth of the video game industry has led to many business model innovations in the recent decade. Development companies are increasingly designing business models centered around the use of microtransactions, in which a number of these have experienced severe controversies and major backlash from their player bases, as a reaction to this. At the same time, some of the most popular and profitable video game developers, similarly utilize microtransactions.
This raises the question, whether a balance may be struck, in the utilization of microtransactions; thus the aim of this thesis is to answer the question: “Which, if any, variation(s) of microtransaction usage are accepted by consumers, and which are not?”
The research was carried out by carefully selecting 24 cases, consisting of video games that include microtransactions to varying degrees, mapping the current variations of microtransactions through a conceptual model, extracting over 12 million textual data points from the social media platform, Reddit, and using Word2Vec and a sentiment analysis tool to uncover both the interaction- and conversation patterns amongst consumers.
The approach produced a number of meaningful findings concerning the consumer acceptance ofmicrotransaction usage;
First, it was found that the utilization of microtransactions in unison with an initial sales price of a given game, indicated lower acceptance from the consumers.
Second, it was found that the inclusion of microtransactions for items that enhance the competitive capabilities of players, similarly indicate a lower acceptance from the consumers.
Finally, it was found that the inclusion of microtransactions for items that are merely cosmetic in nature, indicate a higher level of acceptance from the consumers.
These findings were reflected in games which are developed for PC and/or video game consoles specifically. As the level of discourse related to microtransactions was found to be low in mobile games, the above-mentioned findings cannot be assumed to apply to mobile games.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages114