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Article - Almost all mainstream developers will go down the freemium route

02-19-2013, 01:49 PM
Article - Almost all mainstream developers will go down the freemium route

Discussions on freemium-related topics always draw the most attention, mostly because the freemium model has been greedily explored by many developers at the expense of the end users. For those wondering though why exactly more developers are going down this route by the day, just have a look at the Top Grossing charts on Google Play.

In the Top Grossing charts at the time of writing, I only see 7 paid games in the top 100. Yes, only 7! These are Need for Speed Most Wanted (58), Minecraft PE (60), Asphalt 7: Heat (80), Asphalt 6: Adrenaline (84), Whereís My Water (88), Wild Blood (94) and Football Manager Handheld 2013 (95). Take note that this list might vary from region to region and device to device, but you generally get the idea where Iím getting at, right?

Looking back a year ago, I remember paid games featured much more prominently on this chart. Now though, the highest paid game is at No. 58. Only. There is talk that it is us, the mobile gamers, that have ourselves to blame. For shunning paid games and instead getting free ones. For only ever considering getting a paid game for $0.99. And for many other reasons including piracy.

These may be valid reasons, but to me, the biggest reason why developers are going down the freemium route is because (surprise, surprise) people actually support it. There are people who, believe it or not, refuse to pay outright for a game (even if it is priced at $2.99), but will then happily spend $19.99 on IAPs. Maybe none of this siteís readers do that, but thatís what the casual audience does. Quite a baffling, ainít it?

The Top Grossing charts donít lie, and most if not all mobile game developers are compelled to embrace the freemium model as a result. This is especially true for the bigger developers, who like every successful company, have the intention of reaping a handsome profit off their products. And from a strictly business point of view, thereís nothing wrong with that.

Gameloft and Gamevil went down that route a while back. EA is joining in the fray, and even the illustrious Square Enix has embraced the freemium model. Thing is, these are the very companies that have the capabilities and resources to make really good games, but due to their business model, they spend more time thinking of how to extort more money and make life difficult for their users rather than focusing on providing a breathtaking and immersive gaming experience.

Last year this time, more than half of the games in the top 100 of the Top Grossing charts had a price tag other than free. But come February 2014, there is the stark possibility that not even a single paid game will make it into the top 100. Or the top 200 for that matter. You and me may not like the sound of things, but we better get used to a future where top-quality premium gaming experiences are going to be far and few between. Well, as things stand, this is already rare, but it will only get rarer as the months pass by.

Last edited by Echoseven; 02-21-2013 at 01:09 AM. Reason: Please don't post bare links
02-19-2013, 04:15 PM
Everyone blames the consumers for the Freemium model, but I think it is incorrect to do so. "Consumers" are a massive group of individuals that simply react to a market. The purchasing public is largely predictable - I don't see a surprise in consumers wanting something for free, and embracing it when it's offered (especially these days).

In recent years it has become easier for indie developers to get in the game. Homebrew, and the easy access to the App Store are a few examples. For $99, anyone can release a game that will end up on the "store shelf" with all the others. Suddenly you have a whole new group of people designing and releasing games and apps.

Because of this, many apps are garbage. The consumer gets tired of paying for something only to find out that it sucks. Enter Freemium.

In the early days of the App Store, it was common to see games at $3 - $5. But as other people got into the game, many of whom have never worked in the game industry before - such as myself - the market became flooded with apps. Competition and user dissatisfaction drove the prices down to where they are today.

Actually I think the consumer is not to blame at all, they are simply reacting to a market the way they should.

As for the linked article, there is nothing new in there. There is a virtually endless supply of apps and games. It's as simple as supply and demand. And as for the future of the App Store, and "all games going freemium from now on", maybe that will be true, but the App Store is a new and very dynamic market. It will change a lot in the coming years I think.

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Last edited by schplurg; 02-19-2013 at 04:21 PM.

02-19-2013, 09:21 PM
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Freemium - reaction to consumers?

I have to agree with schplurg. Before games started going freemium, there wasn't a clamor for them.

As a consumer, aren't you all about getting as much as you can for as little as you can? Everyone loves a good deal, and there were a lot of crap apps out there for a long while - heck, there still are. As a consumer, I want to know as much about what I'm purchasing before I buy it to ensure I get my money's worth. Quite often, if I download a free app and enjoy it, I will go and purchase the full version... then, if it's appropriate, I'll get it for my kids (trying to support the industry ).

However, as a gamer, I really, really hope that not everything does move to the freemium model. I honestly HATE it. I want to play, not be dogged to spend more money than I would if I'd just purchased the game outright at the start. I want to be able to progress through a game in a balanced manner, rather than rely on others or on reaching for my pocket book every time I want to accomplish something. I'm willing to spend the $60 on an XBox game... heck, I'm even willing to pay for DLC - developers need to make a living too! I can't tell you how many times I've stopped playing a game because of the nagging to spend money...

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02-19-2013, 10:07 PM
From the article "...the biggest reason why developers are going down the freemium route is because (surprise, surprise) people actually support it. There are people who, believe it or not, refuse to pay outright for a game (even if it is priced at $2.99), but will then happily spend $19.99 on IAPs."

Had consumers said no right from the beginning, the devs wouldn't have gone freemium full scale. Now there's no turning back I fear.
02-20-2013, 05:06 AM
I think if it's done right, even hardcore gamers could accept it. But the way I intend to launch is just with a demo, and one time IAP, possibly some cosmetic addons. But this could all change, I think as long as ones game is good, the business model won't matter that much. (Unless you only care about money and don't care about the game itself)
02-20-2013, 08:34 PM
There is one massive, ignored group that do actually benefit from freemium model - busy people that didn't think they had time to play. Time-management games and business-models supporting playing after certain time do encourage people, who are skeptical about games as valid entertainment and more of complete time-waste.

Edit; I think it's quite fallacy to compare apps with consumable content with those you pay just once. Supercell makes a million A DAY, and even Rovio has hard times to beat it in the grossing charts after initial release week. That just fine though, it doesn't mean there is no room for paid apps, they just don't generate that much of revenues, which is, well, quite logical.

Last edited by el Brainvomito; 02-20-2013 at 08:51 PM.
02-20-2013, 09:42 PM
It really has less to do with what consumers want or dont want. It has more to do with the way Apple set up the system of the App Store. The system encouraged a race to the bottom, so that's what we got.

This should be clear to anyone who develops games for a living. You give rewards for a certain action, and people will perform that action. It has little to do with the inherent merit or fun of doing that thing. Killing rats in one place for hours a day is not fun, but players will do it over and over, even if they dont really want to. And this is where we're stuck. Developers dont want to develop masses of crappy games, and consumers dont want to buy masses of crappy games, but that's what we have for the most part... at least until someone comes along and puts into place a better system that encourages good games to rise to the top.

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02-23-2013, 11:15 PM
Originally Posted by bramblett05 View Post
Thank you so much. Eli was blaming us the consumers for real racing 3's fiasco when like you said games going free left and right. I'm sure these next years are gonna test freemeium so more are gonna be free this year then last. Blame the simpsons tapped out that's my answer.
But RR3's main problem is wait timers, not freemium issues. Also, the problems started when EA bought Firemonkeys. Both of these gripes have nothing to do with freemium.