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Some fun (or not so fun) stats on the popularity of free to play on TouchArcade

12-28-2014, 12:48 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,691
Some fun (or not so fun) stats on the popularity of free to play on TouchArcade

I was going through our traffic stats over the last year for front page content to put together another year end article like this one to go over what stories generated the most interest over 2014 to put together another article like that as well as figure out a plan for 2015. Last year free to play was pretty huge, but this year it's a whole different animal. Historically our year-end coverage generates large amounts of traffic. We intentionally publish that stuff on Christmas and the day after to soak up clicks from all the people out there who opened up a new iPhone or iPad and are looking around online for recommendations on what games they should load them up with. Like all the years before it, all of these stories did incredibly well.

...But when I expand the traffic reports beyond the Game of the Year post, top games post the cumulative traffic of everyone's personal top ten lists and compare the traffic our various free to play guides (such as the recent SimCity guide) things get pretty crazy:


Starting from when we posted the GOTY stuff on Christmas morning until posting this thread, free to play content generated more interest judged by actual site statistics than all of our game of the year stuff combined. (And again, the best of/game of the year stuff generates far more traffic than typical TouchArcade stories and this was true again this year.) When I expand the date range of stat reporting out to include more "normal" TouchArcade content like random news and reviews instead of specifically focusing on what historically are some of our highest interest articles of the year, the disparity grows even more.

Anyway, I just thought this was sort of interesting- Particularly considering the comments those guides typically get revolving around how no one cares, no one reads them, or whatever else. In actuality, as sad as it is, those comments would be comparatively very appropriate in actual "premium" game reviews and news stories instead.
12-28-2014, 01:15 PM
#2
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 48
Makes sense. Attention spans around Christmas are very short. Kids are still high off the excitement of ooh shiny, and want to play all the things! Older kids are juggling between still being sociable with the family and killing time. People aren't looking to hunker down for a 12 hour gaming session around this time, so the free stuff that you can play in chunks of a few minutes between waiting periods is probably really the only thing people are looking for. Though, I remember back in my day before I internetted, I would literally play my new Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis or N64 the whole week straight. Without sleeping. How times have changed.

Might be interesting to see statistical trends throughout the year, i.e. once people get over the Christmas spirit and get back to every day life, do game-of-the-year/top-tens pick up speed as people are looking for more fulfilling experiences, or is it all still a drop in the ocean of free to play?

Last edited by fury; 12-28-2014 at 01:19 PM.

12-28-2014, 01:25 PM
#3
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,691
When you remove the traditionally very high traffic game of the year and similar articles and replace it with normal every day content like news and reviews the free to play guide slice grows far, far more.
12-28-2014, 02:24 PM
#4
Interesting to see that, and (sadly?) not all that surprising.

One thing I'm curious about: where is this traffic coming from? Is it primarily regular readers?
I'm completely guessing here, but I'd theorize that this traffic is primarily made up from people who reach TouchArcade via Internet searches for "how to spend the least in Freemium Game X". If that's the case, maybe these people are less likely to be regular TA readers, and are instead single-purpose guests. Whereas your regular readers might be more interested in editorial content about which games are your favorites, etc.
If that's the case, then tailoring more of your content to this audience might not actually be useful.

Perhaps it's worth digging in to where this traffic is coming from. If you're trying to appeal to your base of regular readers, articles who's traffic comes hugely from a non-regular audience might not be as important as the raw numbers say.

I don't know, just my two cents. Personally, I have no problem simply ignoring articles I'm not interested in, so I don't take it as a personal offense when someone posts a guide that many people out there might find useful.

AfterPad.com - MFi Gaming News | Game List | Controllers | Twitter
12-28-2014, 03:25 PM
#5
Joined: Dec 2013
Posts: 109
Not really suprising.

Searching for Terra Battle guide or Seabeard guide usually has TouchArcade in a few of the links.

There doesn't seem to be much forums anywhere else for mobile gaming.

The people who comment/register are usually the ones who don't like IAP which is why the most of the comments are always negative and rate down freemium games.
12-28-2014, 08:34 PM
#6
Joined: Sep 2013
Location: uk
Posts: 3,548
Are multiple visits to the same article counted once or does each visit count as a click? What I mean is, the Iap freemium style articles generate more debate and you'll have people going back several times and in some cases from different devices to see if they've been replied to and to respond to comments etc. I was just wondering if that would bulk out the traffic?
12-28-2014, 09:20 PM
#7
Joined: Feb 1983
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 1,268,691
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacleod View Post
Interesting to see that, and (sadly?) not all that surprising.

One thing I'm curious about: where is this traffic coming from? Is it primarily regular readers?
I'm completely guessing here, but I'd theorize that this traffic is primarily made up from people who reach TouchArcade via Internet searches for "how to spend the least in Freemium Game X". If that's the case, maybe these people are less likely to be regular TA readers, and are instead single-purpose guests. Whereas your regular readers might be more interested in editorial content about which games are your favorites, etc.
If that's the case, then tailoring more of your content to this audience might not actually be useful.

Perhaps it's worth digging in to where this traffic is coming from. If you're trying to appeal to your base of regular readers, articles who's traffic comes hugely from a non-regular audience might not be as important as the raw numbers say.

I don't know, just my two cents. Personally, I have no problem simply ignoring articles I'm not interested in, so I don't take it as a personal offense when someone posts a guide that many people out there might find useful.
The ton of our traffic across all articles comes from Google. "Regular readers," or people who just type in toucharcade.com to their browsers are important for sure, but growing the traffic of a web site these days involves writing content that people are searching for. Getting people who decide to Google "candy crush help," find TouchArcade, and says to themselves "Oh neat, a iPhone site I'll bookmark this" is how you grow as a media platform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudpuff View Post
Are multiple visits to the same article counted once or does each visit count as a click? What I mean is, the Iap freemium style articles generate more debate and you'll have people going back several times and in some cases from different devices to see if they've been replied to and to respond to comments etc. I was just wondering if that would bulk out the traffic?
In the above chart, yes, but looking at the difference in page views versus unique page views doesn't really change things. When you're talking about articles that are getting hundreds of thousands of hits, a dozen people getting really invested in arguing in comments don't really cause that big of a blip in traffic metrics it would seem. Looking at the number of page views articles get compared to the number of comments, you're talking far below 1% of our readers who actually leave comments- Much less continually come back to comment more.
12-28-2014, 11:55 PM
#8
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Philippines
Posts: 22,189
Goes to show the general userbase is full of cheapskates. No offense meant, but true.

Personally i have never opened any of the free2play guides in TA intentionally... Maybe a Hearthstone article, but one that i didnt think was a guide for maximizing free play.

Sadly, this any dev who realizes or sees this will also tilt towards making free to play games, probably making the next year worse than this. Each year the free to play mechanics have been getting worse.

Im just glad we are still getting premium titles, but even the most respectable devs have been seen to take on free2play as well. We'll see what'll happen on 2015.

I still believe that premium iOS gaming is still viable, despite being drowned in a cesspool of freemium.

Exact-Psience My 2014 Top 10 Games of the Year: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Hearthstone, VVVVVV, Battleheart Legacy, Wayward Souls, Bug Heroes 2, Powerpuff Girls Defenders of Townsville, Deep Loot, Monument Valley, Bioshock Honorable Mentions: Traps N Gemstones, Bardbarian, Goblin Sword
12-29-2014, 05:04 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eli View Post
The ton of our traffic across all articles comes from Google. "Regular readers," or people who just type in toucharcade.com to their browsers are important for sure, but growing the traffic of a web site these days involves writing content that people are searching for. Getting people who decide to Google "candy crush help," find TouchArcade, and says to themselves "Oh neat, a iPhone site I'll bookmark this" is how you grow as a media platform.
Makes sense, yeah. Heck, I remember finding myself on IGN and such 10-15 years ago searching for cheat codes and walkthroughs, and I wasnt a regular reader. Seems to me this stuff is no different. And it's not like you're clickbaiting or lying or anything like that - a lot of people obviously find these articles very useful, even if a vocal minority don't like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exact-Psience View Post
Goes to show the general userbase is full of cheapskates. No offense meant, but true.

Personally i have never opened any of the free2play guides in TA intentionally... Maybe a Hearthstone article, but one that i didnt think was a guide for maximizing free play.

Sadly, this any dev who realizes or sees this will also tilt towards making free to play games, probably making the next year worse than this. Each year the free to play mechanics have been getting worse.

Im just glad we are still getting premium titles, but even the most respectable devs have been seen to take on free2play as well. We'll see what'll happen on 2015.

I still believe that premium iOS gaming is still viable, despite being drowned in a cesspool of freemium.
I strongly, strongly believe that premium gaming is viable. It doesn't need to dominate everything, it just needs to be profitable.

In fact, I'd doubt that a gaming website dedicated solely to causal mobile gaming would be viable. The people who become regular readers of a site like probably skew way into the hardcore demographic. I don't take this thread as implying that TA is going to abandon us any time soon, but more as refuting all the people who say "nobody wants these freemium articles" - obviously not true.

AfterPad.com - MFi Gaming News | Game List | Controllers | Twitter
12-29-2014, 06:20 AM
#10
ACCOUNT CLOSED: Officially Quit iOS Gaming
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,873
Quite depressing really, I'm glad to be leaving ios gaming as I don't see it getting any better.