Games are more accessible than ever before. Nowadays, you don’t even need the latest generation console to get in on the action. More than 3 billion people play games on their mobile devices. On paper, this increased availability seems like a good thing. However, one point of contention for many players is the advent of in-game purchases, with the shift to mobile gaming being the main driving force behind it. 

In 2023, in-app purchases in the games market were worth more than $176 billion. While many titles can be downloaded for free, in-game economies have opened up lucrative revenue streams for developers. Below, we’ll explore 6 of the most expensive in-game purchases ever.

6. RuneScape’s Blue Party Hat 

RuneScape has been around since 2001. However, despite its advanced years, this MMORPG continues to be a serious money-spinner for its developers, Jagaex. The first entry in this list, the Blue Party Hat is also one of the oldest. Back during the festive season of RuneScape’s inaugural year, the Blue Party Hat was given out to players as something of a consolation prize. Despite having no performance-boosting value, appetite for this ultra-rare item has only increased over the past two decades. If you want to pick one of these up today, expect to pay several thousand dollars.

5. Diablo 3’s Echoing Fury

While the fourth installment in Blizzard’s hack-and-slash series has become a firm favorite with fans, Diablo 3 still maintains a devoted fanbase. In 2023, more than 40,000 people are still playing this game daily. As well as being loyal, this steadfast community also seems to be prepared to pay through the nose for in-game purchases. Echoing Fury, a fearsome-looking mace, is one of the deadliest weapons in the series. Unsurprisingly, players were prepared to spend a small fortune to get their hands on one. The record sale price stands at $15,000, although the value of this rare commodity has come down in recent years.

4. Age of Wushu’s Dragon Slaying Saber

It’s one thing to see players spending thousands of dollars on in-game purchases when a title is in its prime. It’s another when gamers hand over their hard-earned cash before a game has even been released. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened when the developers of Age of Wushu held an action while the game was still in beta testing. One frivolous player picked up a Dragon Slaying Saber for a cool $16,000 before the game’s servers opened to the general public. While this in-game weapon was certainly fearsome, the player in question only had a few years to put it to use before Age of Wushu’s servers were shut down for good in 2017. 

3. Dota 2’s Ethereal Flame Pink War Dog

Dota 2’s third-party skins market is particularly lucrative. In 2013, it was an ultra-rare courier skin that had deep-pocketed players excited. The Ethereal Flame Pink War Dog is a breed apart from other couriers in the game. As well as being one of the best-in-class couriers in Dota 2, it’s also one of the most visually impressive. One player was so besotted with it that they happily handed over $38,000 to own one. 

2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore

Most of the items in this list can only be picked up on the auction market. However, the Souvenir AWP Dragon Lore can still be found in the occasional loot box. However, don’t get too excited. This covered re-color is one of the rarest CSGO items of all time. Unsurprisingly, many Counter-Strike fans are prepared to spend a small fortune to own one. In 2018, one player spent an eye-watering $61,000 to add one of these to their arsenal. Wondering how your current AWP holds up against this legendary item? For the latest CSGO stats click here.

1. Entropia Universe’s Calypso 

MindArk’s Entropia Universe was built on a microtransaction model. Players use their own cash to purchase in-game currency, while virtual items picked up in the virtual world can be resold, with earnings converted back into real money. Users have been turning profits for almost 20 years. In 2009, a user-created space station was sold for an incredible $330,000. However, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit of one player, Jon Jacobs, that deserves a special mention. This UK-based Entropia player mortgaged his home to purchase a virtual asteroid for a staggering $10,000. After developing the asteroid into an exclusive in-game club, he resold the property for $635,000.