The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization (The Jimquisition)

Aggressive monetization tactics have undoubtedly lowered the quality for many so-called “AAA” games. The shameless number of microtransactions and loot boxes have made them grinding and shallow “services” instead of complete videogames.

When we talk about the impact microtransactions and loot boxes have on players, however, we often argue in abstract terms. Not today. Today we look at the human cost of predatory monetization – the impact that exploitative business models have on their vulnerable targets.

To really hammer it home, we’ll have to meet Torulf Jernström, a mobile studio CEO whose tactics for hunting “whales” – the prime targets of microtransactions – sound scarily like instructions for selling drugs.

From “Hook Habit Hobby” to the “IKEA Effect,” you’re about to learn just how low this industry’s tricks get. This industry has truly sold its soul.

Strap in, because this gets horrible. And if I’m to be remembered for any single Jimquisition, I’d like it to be this one.


  1. Gunter the penguin

    Wow, that guy’s straight up ‘Sup, here’s how to *manipulate* people’. Since when has manipulation ever been seen as anything other than something immoral?

  2. Anybody that says microtransactions are ethical, fun, or necessary Is a fool and a liar.

  3. Great video, Jim. As a sober alcoholic (and it took YEARS of professional help to get to the sober point) I can confirm that the same qualities that make one addicted to a substance can make one addicted to other behaviors, including gambling and video game micro-transactions. It is often not about the ‘physical’ dependency as it is something else.

    Unlike Substances, and even gambling, where we can choose to avoid the “People, places, and things” that cause triggers….it is not so easy when it comes to games. Especially when they are ones primary hobby and often used as an outlet to AVOID things like substance abuse. Predatory Monetization is morally wrong on so many levels. At it’s worst it literally uses something that keeps a person away from one addiction in order to hook them on another.

  4. I could never get into mobile gaming for this reason, the Hook, Habit and Hobby part of it.

    All the games I tried used the same type of model and eventually I got sick of it, I just didnt feel any motivation or draw to play them.

    The gaming industry is getting destroyed by these corporate bloodsucking leeches, but Im not surprised, its this capitalist, make as much money as you can system we live in, exploiting people and the planet for infinite growth.

  5. Jim, this might be my favorite Jimquisition of the year. As someone who’s also got some addiction issues (not to drugs or gambling but fatty foods), it’s a goddamn struggle to try and ignore those impulses. It truly feels like your mind is going to war with your own body when you fight those urges. After watching this though, I feel more compelled and encouraged than ever to keep myself in check for the sake of my health.

    Even if your show doesn’t contribute to putting the AAA industry in its place, just know it helps make me and others like me feel much better. Thanks for that, Jim:)

  6. At 26:03 is what the EA Android means when he talks about wanting more “social interaction”. Peer pressure spending, that’s it.

  7. I myself struggled with addiction. This is important. This episode, your work, it’s important.

    Also, cameo by Sloth Mama and Harrington Kong. Nice.

  8. So, Jim, what you’re saying is that EA, Activision/Blizzard, et al. are the RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris of the 1970’s and 1980’s?

  9. Someone should set up a petition to get this played infront of congress. We constantly hear about them listening to the game industry side but not much from the public. This video is a very clear window into that world.

  10. Raman / BillyRubin

    Hbomberguy X jim sterling might be one of the best crossover episodes in recent entertainment history

  11. I woke up this morning not knowing who Torulf Jernstrom is… Now I hate him. Like, furiously hate him. More than even slimebags like Bobby Kottic. I’ll guess I’m not the only one who’s very mad at that guy now…
    I’ve had to quit several games because of what they’d been doing to me financially. As someone who’s been victimized by that mentality… Thank you, Jim.

  12. [For what it’s worth, Jim, even outside your fantastic work, what I can see of your ethics and personality and interests has me pretty sure you’re a good person I wouldn’t mind knowing apart from the Jimquisition.]

  13. MoreImbaThanYou

    Honestly, those text read by other persons would have been much more impactful without the music and the sad voice. It sounds cheap this way.

    Edit: I should probably point out that, despite the criticism above, I really value this video and think that more of that is needed to stir the flames of resistance against MTX and lootboxes.

  14. Robert Anderson

    Hook, habit, hobby…As someone who once upon a misspent youth sold many drugs, this sounds frighteningly familiar.

  15. Oh hey, Hbomberguy! I’d know that voice anywhere.

  16. IndieGamerChick

    I remember when I posted a comment saying I spent thousands of dollars on micro-transactions on Bejeweled Blitz and received dozens, if not hundreds, of very nasty replies saying how stupid I was. Yes, addiction = stupid. That’s why only high school dropouts have issues with addiction.

    Jim, thank you for this video. This is long overdue.

  17. “Jimquisition is anti-AAA.” Wear that like a badge of honor.

  18. Real great explanation on how these mechanics are soo damn harmfull. Keep preaching this stuff even, if people say you’re falling in repeat.

  19. This video is pretty much THE Jimquisition. Feels very important, (regrettably) timeless, and definitely one of my favourite pieces of work from you. Really rather chilling… I hope we get smarter about this stuff, as an industry, as consumers, and as a society. What kind of future is there for any of us otherwise?

  20. That Torulf guy is openly talking about using and abusing vulnerable people. He should be locked up. Things like that are harmful to humanity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *