Video Game Publishers Have Come Up With Fun New Ways To Say 'Microtransaction'

Grand Theft Auto Online, developed by Take-Two subsidiary Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto Online, developed by Take-Two subsidiary Rockstar Games

What do you call it when a video game is full of items or services that you can buy with real money? Is it “games as a service”? “Recurrent consumer spending opportunities”? Or maybe PRI (Player Recurring Investment)?


Yesterday, publishers Ubisoft and Take-Two held quarterly financial earnings calls, which gives us a good opportunity to peek into the minds of the folks in charge of both companies. It may not surprise you to hear that their priority, like other big publishers, is to get people spending more than $60 per video game.

Here’s Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two, which owns Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto V) and 2K Games (Bioshock, Borderlands, NBA 2K) (h/t Gamasutra):

“We’ve said that we aim to have recurrent consumer spending opportunities for every title that we put out at this company. It may not always be an online model and it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board.”

Does this mean the next Bioshock will have plasmid loot crates and “Both Sides Are Bad” downloadable content? Probably!!!

Ubisoft, meanwhile, calls it Player Recurring Investment, and it’s what’s now making up over 50% of the publisher’s digital revenue:

Via Ubisoft earnings slideshow
Via Ubisoft earnings slideshow

There’s a simple truth in this slide, and it’s one that many Kotaku readers might find unsettling: Microtransactions are huge because people are spending money on them. And they’re only getting bigger.


This is why I love Bethesda. They’re the only ones releasing quality AAA single player games that aren’t cordoned off or chopped up with microtransactions at every corner.