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Freemium is a fad?

05-09-2012, 04:26 AM
#1
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 70
Freemium is a fad?

http://www.pocketgamer.biz/r/PG.Biz/...ws.asp?c=40782

Freemium 'fad' fails more studios than it helps, reckons Days of Wonder's Hautemont

Thought I'd stir up a debate on the matter. I am curious what y'all think?
05-09-2012, 08:04 AM
#2
I agree and disagree with the matter, but let me explain:

I agree it's a fad because I think there's only so much freemium game you can be playing at once. Since so many are getting out following that model now, a game has less chance to be downloaded, investors will start noticing a drop and stop investing, some games will get bad, people will feel most of them are getting bad and the good ones are hard to find, etc. Anyway you see the classic pattern of a fad.

But I disagree that it will kill the freemium model though. Freemium is here to stay, and I think it's only for the good of gamers in the long run. To stand out, more freemium games will need to try new things. This will push innovation.

One thing that I hate with the current model is that there's not much to do in the game past a certain point. You restock, resow, breed, etc. but then there's nothing else to do for a couple of hours. Nimblebit allows to search for gifts in Pocket Frogs while waiting. It allows to move people in elevators while waiting in Tiny Tower. While that's nice, that's still not enough I think. I mean, isn't weird that a game, trying hard to get users to play their game, doesn't let the gamers keep playing the game as long as they want? Isn't that weird? Normally you don't want the gamer to close your app, you want them to play as long as possible, to keep them hooked.

I understand freemium is all about long-term gratification and payed games are about instant gratification. But when freemium games start mixing both successfully only then we will see the true fun freemium games, way past those following the model in the current fad.

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05-09-2012, 08:31 AM
#3
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Greece, Athens
Posts: 56
I believe that the freemium model needs a very strong game design with an emphasis on a player's addiction to be successful.

And this is not everyone can do!

CEO - Project Manager - Game/Sound Designer Tsimpountiii Games / Tsimpountiii Blog / NXSoundscapes
05-10-2012, 05:42 AM
#4
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: Dundee, Scotland
Posts: 144
It 'is' a fad in the sense that it wont be around forever - there are simply too many free games being released, driving down dev-budgets in favour of user-acquisition. This will, in my opinion, ultimately lead to a point where releasing a game on the one time purchase model will actually represent a USP, i.e. "ignore that free crap, this game is so good that we had to ask for money".

But it is not a 'fad' in the sense that it is not a blip of activity. Freemium is going to be around for a while and it will only disappear when the markets get fed up. Right now there is a lot of money to be made in freemium (although, perhaps not many developers are making it) and I can't see developers taking the lead in moving back to one-time-purchase if the market hasn't radically changed (i.e. boom and busted)...
05-14-2012, 05:10 AM
#5
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonTag View Post
It 'is' a fad in the sense that it wont be around forever - there are simply too many free games being released, driving down dev-budgets in favour of user-acquisition. This will, in my opinion, ultimately lead to a point where releasing a game on the one time purchase model will actually represent a USP, i.e. "ignore that free crap, this game is so good that we had to ask for money".

But it is not a 'fad' in the sense that it is not a blip of activity. Freemium is going to be around for a while and it will only disappear when the markets get fed up. Right now there is a lot of money to be made in freemium (although, perhaps not many developers are making it) and I can't see developers taking the lead in moving back to one-time-purchase if the market hasn't radically changed (i.e. boom and busted)...
So you're agreeing and disagreeing all at the same time? I think there is a distinction also between freemium that's an unlock versus the virtual currency equivalent.
05-15-2012, 03:52 AM
#6
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Munich
Posts: 1,137
Send a message via Skype™ to Nullroar
Freemium (often in the form of quasi-shareware) has been around forever (hello, WinZip).

That said, the huge uptake of fermium I think has really been due to a few things coming together: First (but in no particular order), the rise in piracy. If you front-load your profit potential at point of sale, and someone pirates the title, you are entirely out of luck. Meanwhile, increased distribution is nearly always good if you can verify purchases through your own servers. In these cases, many devs won't even mind that their application shows up on some pirated download sites halfway across the world in random languages, because unless the pirates were ridiculously skilled (and spent a lot of time specifically on your app), server-verified IAP will be untouched and you may even make a profit directly from a pirated copy (don't ask why folks are pirating your free title - it happens! Especially with country restrictions, region rating laws, etc).

Second, penetration. People will take a chance on a free game much more readily than they will take a chance on a paid title. On average, users download more free titles. This gives free apps more dynamic chart movement and gives a bigger chance to break onto the top ranking with some grassroots success. If you look at which section - free or paid - sees the most movement and shifting on it's top 25 any given week, free blows paid out of the water.

Another reason is some of the major moneitizing trends point toward the success of IAP, which is a little harder to justify to your audience in a premium title [and reaches a smaller audience, which is the real benefit of expanding userbase through freemium].

I think freemium, to a certain extent, got a bit of its head start through programs like FAAD - originally designed to make premium games free, a lot of these "free app" sites and programs now work as glorified distribution wings for titles that, in prep for the "feature," are updated with a smattering of IAP.

The problem with many freemium games - the one that could spell trouble for the industry as a whole - is HOW the IAP is integrated. If it is something that is truly optional, that's well and good, but many users feel betrayed and upset when they find that their progress is significantly hindered or blocked without the purchase of arbitrary IAP.

If such IAP becomes the norm (and the market is still in flux right now, so everything is up in the air on that), I predict the value/mindshare of "IAP-less" versions of games to significantly rise.

So, freemium devs, don't overdo it!

I've placed geocached DRM-free USB copies of my newest game in various locations throughout Europe and Southeastern US. Email me if you find 'em for the free "explorer" cape.
05-15-2012, 04:33 AM
#7
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 195
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nullroar View Post
The problem with many freemium games - the one that could spell trouble for the industry as a whole - is HOW the IAP is integrated. If it is something that is truly optional, that's well and good, but many users feel betrayed and upset when they find that their progress is significantly hindered or blocked without the purchase of arbitrary IAP.

If such IAP becomes the norm (and the market is still in flux right now, so everything is up in the air on that), I predict the value/mindshare of "IAP-less" versions of games to significantly rise.

So, freemium devs, don't overdo it!
I wouldn't worry about it, the "industry" as a whole isn't represented by mobile platforms.
IMO a lot of studios and devs aren't looking at it in the right context

As iOS/mobile device hardware grows more and more powerful, the value of software (apps) will also increase proportionally, resulting with lesser and lesser reasons for consumers to expect anything worthwhile from "free" games

So in the future this will certainly affect the frequency of apps attempting to use the freemium model, but it wont entirely eliminate it

Just my two pennies worth
05-15-2012, 07:07 AM
#8
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 55
let's hope

I hope freemium is a fad or at the very least keeps evolves away from what it is now. I should be clear Iím talking about games that are free to play but frustrate the player in some way to encourage a payment for a premium experience. Iíve played too many games over the last year that do this. It looks like governments are starting to take an interest so big changes may be coming.

Matthew

My iOS games: JiggleSaw
My Blog: JiggleSaw development
05-15-2012, 07:26 AM
#9
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
Posts: 83
Freemium will exist as long as players like getting games for free. So, quite a long time!

I really like content-driven freemium games (e.g, mobile games like Jetpack Joyride with virtual currency where store items can be earnt OR bought and PC games like LoL, TF2, etc where you're paying for actual extra characters/weapons). Obviously not many people on an iOS gaming forum will appreciate freemium games where you have to pay for the actual gameplay (continuous gameplay at least), but as long as the most casual of gamers will get hooked on it, companies will keep making huge money and therefore companies will keep producing that kind of freemium.

The simple solution is to just play other games. There's hundreds of new games on the market each week, plenty of choices
05-16-2012, 02:44 AM
#10
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Munich
Posts: 1,137
Send a message via Skype™ to Nullroar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvx View Post
I wouldn't worry about it, the "industry" as a whole isn't represented by mobile platforms.
IMO a lot of studios and devs aren't looking at it in the right context

As iOS/mobile device hardware grows more and more powerful, the value of software (apps) will also increase proportionally, resulting with lesser and lesser reasons for consumers to expect anything worthwhile from "free" games

So in the future this will certainly affect the frequency of apps attempting to use the freemium model, but it wont entirely eliminate it

Just my two pennies worth
I dunno - I think the "industry" as we are discussing it *is* mobile, and with a milestone of 1 billion smart phones set to be reached this year, I don't see it lacking in growth or power.

I wouldn't know if I would agree with the argument that increased platform potential / availability would result in less useful free apps; historically we've seen the exact opposite (Skype is a great example - once the tech was there, the service rose to the challenge).

Indeed, I think the low cost of mobile development and the international nature of the app stores (making for lax policing and inter-country IP disputes) promotes free apps. Even if an amazing premium app was made, there is high incentive for another developer to (at low risk / cost) make an almost exact duplicate and offer for free with ads or IAP to capitalize on the user base that didn't already purchase the premium version they are copying.

This is doubly-true if the app is a new service, as opposed to a game, because the real legwork is in sculpting the idea and process, and a pirate can simply copy that and whip up an interface in no time.

The risk is so low - and the reward potential for copying something that is a proven success is so high - in mobile. The sad truth is that i've known developers who made livings simply through releasing ad-driven clones.

I've placed geocached DRM-free USB copies of my newest game in various locations throughout Europe and Southeastern US. Email me if you find 'em for the free "explorer" cape.