In-game adverts, micro-transactions are among gamers’ biggest gaming complaints
May 2nd, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

In-game adverts, micro-transactions are among gamers’ biggest gaming complaints

A new YouGov poll reveals that in-game adverts, micro-transactions and performance issues are gamers’ biggest issues with video games. Gamers in this piece are defined as those who play video games on any device for at least 30 minutes in an average week.

Over three-quarters of these gamers say that “in-game adverts” have had a negative impact on their gaming experience (78%). This includes 55% who say that this has had a major negative impact on their gaming experience and 23% who say it has had a minor negative impact.

Seven in ten consumers say their gaming experience has been impacted negatively by micro-transactions (72%). Performance issues also leave a sour taste in the mouth of gamers, with buggy game releases (72%), poorly optimised games (71%) and games with poor gameplay mechanics (70%) also being a bother for seven-tenths of UK gamers.

Relatively, fewer gamers report having negative gaming experiences with things like lack of innovative game releases (58%), titles being exclusive to one console (56%) and poor post-release content updates (55%). Game launch delays are of the least bother, with 43% of UK’s gamers having a negative experience with that aspect. A larger share of gamers having an issue with buggy game releases compared to game launch delays is in line with findings from another survey, which showed that gamers would rather wait for issues to be ironed out than play buggy games instantly.

But not all gamers are equal. Splitting the data by the type of device that gamers most use to game on shows that smartphone gamers are least likely to complain about most factors whereas those who primarily game on gaming consoles over-index on most aspects.

Console gamers are also more likely than mobile gamers to rate in-game adverts as having a negative impact on their gaming experience (60% vs 52%) - this even though in-game ads are far more prevalent on mobile games. It is worth remembering that a lot of console and PC gamers also play on their phones. According to YouGov Profiles, 61% of PC/Console gamers also spend at least 30 minutes weekly playing video games on a mobile phone or similar handheld device. So issues that predominantly affect mobile phones could easily have an effect on those who primarily play on computers or consoles (and vice versa). 

Recently there has been an increasing push towards introducing in-game adverts on free-to-play titles on consoles. Game developers may have to be cautious and subtle in introducing this means of monetising their creations given the strong resentment towards it.

Buggy game releases are rated as having a major negative impact by half of all console gamers (51%), 44% of PC gamers as well as a third of smartphone gamers (34%). Micro-transactions are also among the top three issues among all groups.

On the face of it, PC gamers are less likely than console gamers to say they experience a major negative impact on their gaming experience from various aspects. But this is probably only because console gamers take their gaming more seriously and so are more given to noticing these issues. This thesis is partly borne out by the fact that when looking only at gamers who play for more than seven hours a week, PC gamers become more sensitive.

As an example, 29% of PC gamers who play for at least seven hours each week attach a major negative experience to lack of innovative game releases compared to only 20% of PC gamers on the whole. But there is no major difference in the rates between heavy console gamers (29%) compared to console gamers on the whole (28%).

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of gamers aged 18+ years in the UK with an overall sample size of 817 adults. All surveys were conducted online in December 2022. Data for UK uses a nationally representative sample. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.