Has ‘Pretend Money’ Changed Our Spending Habits?

Posted by on December 29, 2019 in Stuff with 0 Comments

Over the course of the last few years, video game players have been accustomed to deal more and more frequently with in-game currencies. Is any truth to the suggestion that the use of platform-specific credits or points systems is drastically altering the way we spend and deal with real money?

Has In-Gaming Currency Created a Skewed Relationship with Real Spending?

The types of pretend money within the gaming sector vary significantly depending on the title's developers and approach to micro transactions. Within the latest releases, there are numerous different components that in-game currencies can purchase. For example, Star Wars Battlefront II opts for crystals and credits as a means of purchasing in-game loot boxes which can contain a wide array of advantageous items, while Dota 2, on the other hand, uses shards.

From a creator standpoint, there are many regulatory risks when it comes to integrating in-game currencies, which relate to FinCEN's stance on the application of virtual currency and money transmission. For consumers, there is a suggestion that playing with fake money is having an adverse effect on spending habits. For instance, Forbes has highlighted the psychological pitfalls to using fake money.

Source: Pixabay

Crucially, there are concerns surrounding our mental ability to separate the fact that in-game currencies are generally funded by real money. Transactions made with platform-specific credits are far less transparent than real-money transactions – it is difficult to track how much is actually being spent and what value coins, crystals or points actually hold.

Are We More Likely to Make More Informed Decisions with Real-Money Transactions?

While there are benefits to sensibly utilizing in-game currencies in order to get a more diverse in-game experience (for example by customizing the appearance of your favorite character), there is also a significant impact on players' decision-making processes.

In some cases, in-game currencies are rewarded to users in an effort to incentivize prolonged gaming experiences. Within EA Sports' latest title in the FIFA franchise, players are given coins which can be spent on packs with new items and the creation of new squads.

In contrast, real money is preferred by other developers within varying sectors. In the iGaming world, review sites such as VegasSlotsOnline.com have created pages dedicated to platforms offering real-money slots. By playing with real money, users get a chance to win real cash prizes as opposed to in-game virtual rewards. Franchises such as Football Manager and The Sims also offer various expansion packs, including Sports Interactive's in-game Editor, that are one-time, real-money purchases made through their respective platforms.

Furthermore, with real-money transactions such as those in the iGaming sector, winnings can be cashed out at any given time, while with in-game components such as FIFA Ultimate Team items, platform-specific purchases are continuously trapped within the respective titles.

Ever-Changing Relationships

Ultimately, it’s clear that the rise of in-game currencies has influenced our spending habits. Since the in-game transactions are much less transparent than real-money alternatives, there is a risk of overspending when using platform-specific credits. Across the globe, and as a result of this, there has been a mixed reaction to virtual game currencies, with countries like Belgium banning EA's FIFA Points.

While many gamers appreciate the variety that in-game purchases can offer, there is definitely some discontent that modern-day titles are exploiting the vulnerabilities of players who are hungry for more.

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