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Is Freemium the Future of iOS Gaming?

11-21-2011, 09:24 PM
#1
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,146
Is Freemium the Future of iOS Gaming?

The games are constantly bagged here on TA, yet constantly appear at the top of the Top Grossing charts accompanied by 5 star app store ratings. More and more developers are introducing IAP into their releases to varying extents. Would like to see a concentrated discussion of what's going on and why, instead of it being spread over dozens of different threads.
11-21-2011, 10:07 PM
#2
Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Planet Earth
Posts: 1,661
I'd rather just outright pay for the game. So far the best model for a freemium game is "Bullet Time HD" and the worst freemium models for games are Glu Mobile's games. Gun Bros., Contract Killer Zombies, etc..good games crippled by greedy bs insane prices. $500 dollars for a gun in Gun Bros. !?! That's just craziness.

11-21-2011, 10:22 PM
#3
don't really like Freemium games...won't pay $50 for airplane or gun...
11-21-2011, 10:30 PM
#4
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 2,649
Freemium seems to be the future simply because freemium games make more money than premium priced ones. A number of surveys and reports that are floating around (some of which ended up as articles on the front page here) suggest just that.
I dislike freemium games, especially the ones that are specifically designed to suck as much money out of you as possible. Freemium devs are the ones who rake in the cash though, so for a dev to do well, freemium model is the one to adopt.
They have a choice though: create a great game where IAP is truly optional or create a POS that requires you to spend money to get any kind of enjoyment.
I am still hopeful that there will be enough honourable devs who would care about their product and customers' good will.
Case in point. Backflip. I used to think they are great devs. Since they adopted IAP for all of their new games while providing increasingly subpar content I am beginning to suspect that their focus now is on generating income at the expense of quality. Glu are bastards in the category of their own.

Icon is a window to game's soul...
11-21-2011, 11:57 PM
#5
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Here
Posts: 1,400
I sure hope not. Not solely because I think freemium games are weak, undriven, and annoying, but also (not counting when freemium is done right of course, like say Slam Dunk King) they are very rarely ANY fun at ALL. I have very few freemium games plainly because I don't find them much fun at all...

I don't want a signature.
11-22-2011, 12:23 AM
#6
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Ohio, USA
Posts: 2,869
I've littered my comments/opinions all around this forum about freemium games, so I don't want to get too long winded!

Freemium is a strong revenue model; nothing more, nothing less.

Other than that, I agree with what has been posted so far.

Game Center: GoofyJmaster My Twitter; Weekly Game Impressions! Thread; Game Guide 2011
Playing Frederic Resurrection of Music, Jazz: Trump's Journey, Russian Dancing Men, & Cytus
11-22-2011, 12:51 AM
#7
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,146
Quote:
Originally Posted by DodgerBlue016 View Post
(not counting when freemium is done right of course, like say Slam Dunk King)
Quote:
Originally Posted by eugekava View Post
create a great game where IAP is truly optional
I don't believe there's such a thing as "harmless" IAP. Please note I'm talking about consumable IAP here such as in-game coin, ways to advance your character or gain in-game items, etc. I am not talking about things like extra levels/map packs and so on, which when handled right are ok.

When I hear developers speak of "fully optional" IAP I cringe. Here's why:

It's basically a matter of integrity. Rightfully, the design logic behind game balance should be carefully implemented with the player experience in mind within the bounds of the game world. When you bring IAP into the equation you are now dealing with factors outside the game world whose balance you have no control over. Furthermore, it now clearly becomes an incentive for the developer (we all like money) for these factors to be used. A developer may say that they balanced the game with no IAP in mind; they may even mean it; but there is no getting around the fact that they have a vested interest in selling that IAP. There is a good reason why a football referee isn't allowed to bet on the game, no matter how swell a guy he is. Whichever way you slice it, the integrity of a game is severly compromised with the introduction of consumable IAP.

Now clearly that doesn't even begin to approach the outrageousness of "true" freemium games where you are charged for "time played" on top of everything else too, but overall I think all consumable IAP can be broken down only into lesser or greater evils; none are truly harmless when you consider the big picture overall.
11-22-2011, 01:36 AM
#8
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Ohio, USA
Posts: 2,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabrien View Post
I don't believe there's such a thing as "harmless" IAP. Please note I'm talking about consumable IAP here such as in-game coin, ways to advance your character or gain in-game items, etc. I am not talking about things like extra levels/map packs and so on, which when handled right are ok.

When I hear developers speak of "fully optional" IAP I cringe. Here's why:

It's basically a matter of integrity. Rightfully, the design logic behind game balance should be carefully implemented with the player experience in mind within the bounds of the game world. When you bring IAP into the equation you are now dealing with factors outside the game world whose balance you have no control over. Furthermore, it now clearly becomes an incentive for the developer (we all like money) for these factors to be used. A developer may say that they balanced the game with no IAP in mind; they may even mean it; but there is no getting around the fact that they have a vested interest in selling that IAP. There is a good reason why a football referee isn't allowed to bet on the game, no matter how swell a guy he is. Whichever way you slice it, the integrity of a game is severly compromised with the introduction of consumable IAP.

Now clearly that doesn't even begin to approach the outrageousness of "true" freemium games where you are charged for "time played" on top of everything else too, but overall I think all consumable IAP can be broken down only into lesser or greater evils; none are truly harmless when you consider the big picture overall.
Yeah, I've been talking about how IAP cheapens the value of games like Modern Combat and Infinity Blade, but this comes from a guy that was a hardcore console player. I would like for people to actually earn their ranks and equipment.

SNG's are a whole 'nother beast in my opinion. You go into these types of games knowing that you will be waiting for energy or buying IAP, hence the name sit'n'go. I will say Please Stay Calm is one of the few SNG's that feel well balanced, meaning that you don't have to wait a "lifetime" to do something new.

Yeah, true freemium (pay to play) is a joke. NUFF SAID!

I think "freemium the right way" was in reference to games like Bullet Time. In all honesty, it does feel balanced as in in-game guns and IAP guns are pretty closely spec'd and and you can play through the game without having to buy IAP. Also, you get crystals for completing things and leveling. But, you do have to work hard for your money and at times your like what if I could get that other gun. After investing a large amount of time, I see their IAP sweet spot; pretty sure it's boosts, especially med packs. Overall, it's as balanced as I think these types of models will get and I do enjoy the game.

[[EDIT]]
Forgot to add this: IAP for new levels and such is okay as long as the original game is a "full" game and the new stuff is actually worth it.

Game Center: GoofyJmaster My Twitter; Weekly Game Impressions! Thread; Game Guide 2011
Playing Frederic Resurrection of Music, Jazz: Trump's Journey, Russian Dancing Men, & Cytus

Last edited by GoofyJmaster.; 11-22-2011 at 01:39 AM.
11-22-2011, 03:11 AM
#9
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,048
I certainly hope not. Freemium is bullshit, just charge us once and be done with it. At the beginning of the app store's life, there was a great model: "lite" versions, and "premium" versions. Try a game, if you like it, buy it. Great. Some games had the full game as an unlockable IAP within the lite game. That was a great time. Slowly over time this has been tweaked and manipulated by greedy devs in order to line their pockets, and reach deeper and deeper into ours. Now we have pay-to-play, sit n' go, and all kinds of other crap that we could do without.
Remember when Gameloft was like "the little dev that could"? Look at them now. Greedy money-grubbers. Have you ever played Let's Golf 3? That has got to be the worst offender of all. Slowing down a GOLF game by making you wait for turns or pay the price? We would have gladly paid 7 bucks to just HAVE the game. Take a look at Com2us' new game, Homerun Battle 2. It has all the shitty IAP of the first game, and we complained our asses off about the IAP system of that game! The complaints and distaste were made very public, and Com2us was made very aware. Did that stop them from trying to hang us by the ankles a second time? Nooooo. And now, guess what? Even if we were to go outside of their offices with flaming torches and picket signs, they CAN'T get rid of the IAP model, because some poor bastard out there already paid for it, and if they took it away now, it's unfair to that guy. So now they "have" to keep that model in the interest of "fairness". By the way, that same "fairness" allows that guy to kick our asses in the game, simply because he was willing to buy a bunch of stuff that we weren't big enough suckers to buy. Real fair. What kind of irony is that?! That was greed in the most shameless of forms...and if I ever meet the developers of Smurfs Village, I'm going to throw a CroCop high kick at each of their faces.
I wish to God more devs would listen to their customer's complaints and put a stop to this crap. Just look in the Homerun Battle 2 thread. People complain their asses off about the IAP system, and then when Com2us actually appears in the thread, they COMPLETELY ignore those concerns, and just go on talking about how awesome HRB2 is and how everyone should go out and buy it..because what else are they going to say? They're forced to sit there and act like they don't hear it, because they're not going to change it since it would hit them in the pocketbook, and it pisses me off. I actually tweeted them back and forth a bit on Twitter, and when I finally inquired about the garbage IAP model, surprise surprise, no response. After I called them on it, they suddenly changed from posting like human beings, and started posting like corporate robots. "We appreciate your feedback, and will take your suggestions into consideration." Yeah, sure thing. Boycotting is the only way, and you'd better believe I've been boycotting my ass off lately to devs who make quality games, just to take a stand against their greedy bastard-ness, and I suggest you do too, if we're ever going to see a change. /rant

Last edited by Quazonk; 11-22-2011 at 03:13 AM.
11-22-2011, 03:23 AM
#10
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,049
When I got my first IOS device less than a year ago I was so enthusiastic about gaming on it. I could see myself never buy a portable console again. And now I am not so sure anymore My first big disappointment was Diner Dash. This is an iconic time management game. When people think time management game, they think Diner Dash. And now it is just a money-pit. Why use any strategy when you can just buy those new tables or the upgraded coffee machine? Sure, it may be possible to play without IAP, but I wouldn't know that, because the game reminds me loudly each time that I can Buy More Stuff! It is indeed like Gabrien says, that causes friction between the game world and the real world, and it sucks.

I also wonder if it is really true that freemium games are the only way to make money these days, like some people say. If I look at the top 24 grossing in the Dutch iPad appstore there are only 3 freemium games, or 4 if you count Texas Poker. (8. Smurf's Village, 11. Battle Nations and 24. Blood and Gory). Other apps/games in this category include apps like Angry Birds HD, Fifa 12, TinTin, an Einstein Brain game, Minecraft Pocket Edition, Modern Combat 3, Gangstar Rio and a couple of Office/PDF apps. All those apps cost $5 or more, so that makes the notion that IOS users simply won't pay for games and that a dev has no choice but to go freemium untrue, doesn't it?