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The Three Kinds of Freemium Games

View Poll Results: Which model of Freemium do you prefer?
Type 1 - IAP buys expendable items/currency that cannot be reused 1 9.09%
Type 2 - IAP buys items/upgrades/permanent upgrades or add-ons that you keep 9 81.82%
Type 3 - Hybrid of 1 and 2 - Expendable currency buys permanent content 0 0%
I don't have an opinion 1 9.09%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll
04-13-2012, 09:53 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 314
The Three Kinds of Freemium Games

Throughout a number of threads in these forums I see discussions of the way freemium game monetize and I just wanted to offer some opinions and encourage some discussion around which type iOS gamers prefer (I know I have my preferences, which I'll share in a moment).

Type 1: The game is free to download and free to play. You can buy currency/fuel/berries/other expendables which can be spent in game and then need to be replenished with further IAPs. Games like (forgive this example its the first one that springs to mind because my daughter loves it) The Smurfs, where you can play all you want, but to really progress you have to use IAP to buy berries. Once you use those berries up, you need more. Or in other games you can buy things that speed up your progress in the game, but then you're back to waiting or buying more in order to keep progressing at an acceptable (to the gamer) pace. This encourages repeat purchases to keep going in the game. This model is well suited to developer profits.

Type 2: The game is free to download and play. You can buy non-expendable items via IAP. Games like Need for Speed come to mind, where you can buy cars and upgrades that are non-expendable. In other words, once you make your purchase, you own the things you've bought and they don't get used up, wear out or need to be purchased again, ever. This model encourages purchase and helps developers to make money on the games they create but they also don't force the consumer into re-buying things over and over again. This model is well suited to consumer enjoyment.

Type 3: A hybrid of the two. The game is free to download and play and you can buy some type of in-app currency which can then be used to buy in-app non-expendable items. Once you spend the in-app currency, it's gone, but what you've spent it on is a permanent addition to your copy of the game. Games like Shadow Era spring immediately to mind. You buy Crystals in the game and in turn use them to buy packs of cards, which you then own forever. This model works for both developers and consumers. As long as the developers add new purchasable, non-expendable content, repeat purchases on in-game currency are encouraged, but the consumer gets to keep and re-use whatever they spend said in-game currency on over and over again.

Personally, I avoid Type 1 games at all costs. Any game that basically forces you to keep spending money, sometimes daily, in order to keep enjoying the game, are not for me and it really surprises me (yes, still) that people keep playing these games.

Type 2 is probably the ideal as it's the most consumer friendly.

Type 3 is a necessary model for games like TCGs or games that have lots of in-game upgrades and add-ons available.

Personally, I think Shadow Era in particular is a great model. You are buying in game currency with which to purchase your card collection, but then you keep the cards permanently.

So, I'm curious, what do other iOS gamers think? Which model do you prefer? Does anyone really like the games that fall into the type-1 category? My experiences in this marketplace suggest strongly that they don't and yet these types of games still do very well. Please vote in the poll and share your opinion. Lots of iOS developers and game designers (myself included) are on these forums all the time, so perhaps your opinions will help determine what model future freemium titles take. Thanks for reading. Have a great day!


04-13-2012, 10:26 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 986
I like 2 most of these games your always paying to play. They have no mercy.
04-13-2012, 10:37 AM
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Tel-Aviv
Posts: 2,298
i have no opinion. the only thing that matters to me is whether the game can also be completed without any IAPs (even if a decent amount of grinding is required).

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04-13-2012, 12:55 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2,482
I don't like any of those. The only IAP I would do is on a fully-fledged paid game, and it gives me a cool , substantial extra eg extra levels, maps etc.

Like someone else said, I don't mind free games with IAP as long as I can complete it fairly without purchase necessary

If something online is free, you are not the customer - you are the product.