What are “whales” in video games

As the gaming industry has progressed, it has sought new ways to monetize its products. One of the ways to achieve this is through microtransactions, which have received a mixed reaction from players. While some players don’t mind a few low-key microtransactions, others see them as a symptom of corporate greed. Many gamers have moved away from microtransactions, but few have fully embraced them and are willing to spend huge amounts of money on them.

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Players who splurge on in-game purchases are sometimes referred to as whales, and they have a somewhat controversial reputation. Some may pity whales and view them as exploited victims, though others claim that whales are bad sports that use money instead of skill, and in doing so spoil everyone’s fun. Opinions on whales are mixed, but as long as they continue to be a reliable source of money, developers will keep fishing for them.

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What are whales?

Microtransactions have been an integral part of gaming for quite some time, and when implemented correctly, they can benefit developers and players alike. Through microtransactions, players can purchase additional optional items to make their character, vehicles, or weapons stand out, or to gain additional perks. Developers can use microtransactions to support free games and to integrate new content into games. Provided the microtransactions aren’t too expensive or invasive, they can exist quite harmoniously alongside content unlocked through regular gameplay.


When games attract large audiences, most gamers won’t buy downloadable content, no matter how attractive. However, there is a small percentage who will be so immersed in the game that they will be willing to spend large sums of money for in-game currency, either to splurge on cosmetics or to obtain perks that suit them. will provide a competitive advantage. These players are called whales, and while they may be in the minority in any player base, they are usually the players who provide developers with the majority of profits. According to researchers, the top ten percent of players can account for up to fifty percent of all revenue from in-app purchases.


Which games have whales?

Whales have been prevalent in gacha video games, which are games that challenge players to spend in-game currency to receive random in-game items. Games, especially mobile games, using the gacha model have gained popularity in the 2010s before the rest of the world joined in on the craze. Well-known examples of gacha games include Genshin Impact, knightsand Guardian Tales.

Despite the popularity of gacha games, they have been criticized, with many saying they are addictive and lure children into gambling habits. While some are grateful for whales in free games, believing that they keep things free for the rest of the players, others claimed whales are drug addicts who are exploited. Additionally, others claim that whales ruin other people’s games by buying the upgrades and perks that others work hard for. It can be impossible to keep up with whales playing regularly when they can just buy the upgrades they need.


Whales aren’t limited to gacha games, and big spenders can be found in games like Grand Theft Auto: Online, Candy Crush Sagaand Mobile FIFAwhere players are known to spend thousands of dollars on in-game purchases. Despite the popularity of microtransactions and the profitability of whales, there have been a few titles, like Hogwarts Legacy, which consciously avoided including any microtransactions. Therefore, while whales seem to have a permanent fixture in the game, the game’s landscape remains large enough to accommodate all types of creators and players.

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Carolyn M. Daniel