★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Rant on Freemium

12-26-2010, 08:06 PM
#1
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,282
Rant on Freemium

I posted this in Other Discussion but I'll post it again, as I'm curious how others feel about it too.

I'm not a developer, but I have been following iPod gaming since the click wheel days, then early iPhone games, then the iPad.

I think I speak for the majority of gamers on this site and many others when I say we do not like freemium games. Usually. There are exceptions but for the most part the game, and company behind it, are in it for just the money. And they get this money by providing the least amount of content possible that will still sell. And it shows too.

There a very distinct line between Freemium and IAPs/DLC. I cant stand any freemium games, from smurfs to farmville. There's a full, fun game sitting there, and they cripple it with the need to buy X items to continue playing. I realize it's a successful marketing strategy for hundreds of games, but that's just how I see it. It shows you instanly where the devs priorty is, money.

IAPs are a different story. They augment a game, enhance and make it something more than it was before. This could be added levels, items, money, whatever the case may be. But nothing is taken away from the game if you don't buy them. You don't have to wait 4 hours to play again.

The Freemium games are so high in the charts because the other games are one time sales, with no profit potential after the initial sale. This skews the numbers to make it seem as if these freemium games are high quality, or at least worth buying, which is seldom the case. There should be separate charts.

I hope this trend stops where it stands. It entices devs into coming up with more convoluted ways to trick people who don't know better into wasting their money on levels/biscuits/seeds/energy/random way to continue playing.

If games like we rule, smurfs, touch pet dogs or cats, or farmville were paid games, without the ridiculous IAPs, I'd be first in line to try them, cause they do seem fun.

As of now, I won't even consider buying or recommending a freemium game over a game that's many times better, with actual value.

Ask yourself, or anyone serious about iOS gaming:

Cats/dogs/seeds/time/levels/coins > Aralon/Infinity Blade/NOVA/World of Goo/Real Racing 2

And they will tell you it's just not true.

More power to casual gamers with deep pockets, but I'll take a real game any day

Last edited by Paradiso; 12-26-2010 at 08:29 PM.
12-26-2010, 08:26 PM
#2
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: HongKong
Posts: 345
look at the korean game's IAP list. they even charge from larger inventory. that is shame, i think.

12-26-2010, 08:39 PM
#3
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,206
Well, first, let's be clear on the conventionally accepted terminology:

DLC: Downloadable content. These are the things that augment games with extras like outfits for characters, bonus characters, levels, etc. The key word here is content. It adds to the game. Preferentially, DLC is generally not required to play the full game unless the game itself is a free lite version and allows upgrading to the full game through DLC.

IAP: In-app purchase. This may or may not be content, so it includes DLC but is a broader term to describe any spending of real money within the game. It could simply be consumables like health, lives, seeds, or whatever.

Developers may or may not follow these conventions for describing in-game purchases, but just for the purposes of this thread let's be clear on what we're referring to here.

DLC I don't mind. If it's a freebie upgradable to full in-game, then that's just fine -- cool, even. I don't have to go back to the App Store to grab the full version and then delete the lite. If it's extra, optional content that is not required to play the game start to finish -- and if the game itself is not artificially foreshortened to encourage the purchase of DLC -- then that's totally fine, too. As long as the money that I paid for the game at the outset gets me a full game, then I can decide at any time whether I want to opt-in to the extra content as I see fit, depending on how much I decide I like the game.

Games whose economy primarily revolves around consumable IAPs are fine with me, too. Games like Farmville or whatever, where IAPs are available to get ahead quicker, that's fine with me. I neither like nor play these games, so I can simply not buy them and let others spend their cash on virtual merchandise. I differentiate these games based on the fact that it is more or less expected that you'll be opting in to IAPs, so you know what you're getting yourself into at the outset and are prepared to spend money on it.

Freemiums are hit or miss for me. There are some freemium games that give you the impression that they are free, fully fleshed out games you can download and complete for free. The problem, though, is that often the games are made in such a way that it is extremely difficult to play the full games without buying into the DLC. It's technically possible to do it, it's just not very likely. These are the freemium games I object to. They try to suck you into a free game that is usually pretty good, and you start getting into it only to realize that you're probably not going to pass this one particular part unless you buy enough DLC consumables to help you pass it -- and it probably won't be the only one. Toy Shop Adventures is one example I can think of that did this, and it really turned me off.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect anything for free, and it's nice when we do get something for free, but don't spit on my cupcake and tell me it's frosting. A full, free game with optional DLC it not the same as a "full" free game when it is deliberately tuned to make it extremely difficult to complete without buying into that option, such as being extremely skimpy with the powerups in Toy Shop Adventures. It is disingenuous and annoying. I would much prefer that developers either give the whole game a price tag, or just make the game a lite with the option to upgrade to full through DLC. Don't make the game artificially difficult to encourage consumable IAPs. Seriously, if Aralon did this with consumable health potions, for example, as much as I love that game, I'd delete it in a heartbeat.

The bottom line though is that developers are in this for the money. Like it or not, any company that creates any product does so for only two purposes: To make money, and to serve as publicity. Sure, developers may be gamers themselves and may love what they do, but don't mistake that enjoyment for altruism. They're not here to be charitable, donating their time, money and talents for your entertainment. They're here to make a living -- hopefully, or at least augment their day job salaries for the low-to-no-budget indies. How they do that is up to them, and if you think they're being shady and misrepresenting their apps then the only real way to protest that is with your wallet: Don't give them your money.

[Relax with Galactic Chill] [Let me tell you a story.]
Currently working on: Music for Spirit Hunter Mineko
12-26-2010, 08:57 PM
#4
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mindfield View Post
Well, first, let's be clear on the conventionally accepted terminology:

DLC: Downloadable content. These are the things that augment games with extras like outfits for characters, bonus characters, levels, etc. The key word here is content. It adds to the game. Preferentially, DLC is generally not required to play the full game unless the game itself is a free lite version and allows upgrading to the full game through DLC.

IAP: In-app purchase. This may or may not be content, so it includes DLC but is a broader term to describe any spending of real money within the game. It could simply be consumables like health, lives, seeds, or whatever.

Developers may or may not follow these conventions for describing in-game purchases, but just for the purposes of this thread let's be clear on what we're referring to here.

DLC I don't mind. If it's a freebie upgradable to full in-game, then that's just fine -- cool, even. I don't have to go back to the App Store to grab the full version and then delete the lite. If it's extra, optional content that is not required to play the game start to finish -- and if the game itself is not artificially foreshortened to encourage the purchase of DLC -- then that's totally fine, too. As long as the money that I paid for the game at the outset gets me a full game, then I can decide at any time whether I want to opt-in to the extra content as I see fit, depending on how much I decide I like the game.

Games whose economy primarily revolves around consumable IAPs are fine with me, too. Games like Farmville or whatever, where IAPs are available to get ahead quicker, that's fine with me. I neither like nor play these games, so I can simply not buy them and let others spend their cash on virtual merchandise. I differentiate these games based on the fact that it is more or less expected that you'll be opting in to IAPs, so you know what you're getting yourself into at the outset and are prepared to spend money on it.

Freemiums are hit or miss for me. There are some freemium games that give you the impression that they are free, fully fleshed out games you can download and complete for free. The problem, though, is that often the games are made in such a way that it is extremely difficult to play the full games without buying into the DLC. It's technically possible to do it, it's just not very likely. These are the freemium games I object to. They try to suck you into a free game that is usually pretty good, and you start getting into it only to realize that you're probably not going to pass this one particular part unless you buy enough DLC consumables to help you pass it -- and it probably won't be the only one. Toy Shop Adventures is one example I can think of that did this, and it really turned me off.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect anything for free, and it's nice when we do get something for free, but don't spit on my cupcake and tell me it's frosting. A full, free game with optional DLC it not the same as a "full" free game when it is deliberately tuned to make it extremely difficult to complete without buying into that option, such as being extremely skimpy with the powerups in Toy Shop Adventures. It is disingenuous and annoying. I would much prefer that developers either give the whole game a price tag, or just make the game a lite with the option to upgrade to full through DLC. Don't make the game artificially difficult to encourage consumable IAPs. Seriously, if Aralon did this with consumable health potions, for example, as much as I love that game, I'd delete it in a heartbeat.

The bottom line though is that developers are in this for the money. Like it or not, any company that creates any product does so for only two purposes: To make money, and to serve as publicity. Sure, developers may be gamers themselves and may love what they do, but don't mistake that enjoyment for altruism. They're not here to be charitable, donating their time, money and talents for your entertainment. They're here to make a living -- hopefully, or at least augment their day job salaries for the low-to-no-budget indies. How they do that is up to them, and if you think they're being shady and misrepresenting their apps then the only real way to protest that is with your wallet: Don't give them your money.
I agree with pretty much everything you said. It may seem like a petty issue but it really frustrates me when I see games like zombie farm or smurfs so high in the charts. I know it's all opinion based, play what you want and all that, but my opinion is that games that exist to extract money from us shamelessly are garbage.

I know they're in it to make money, but come on, draw the line somewhere. Any decent businessman can tell you, do what you love and the money will come.

The IAPs that are required to pass certain parts of a game, or to keep playing for more than a few minutes are what really get me. People are actually spending real money on fake money. Not even physical fake money like monopoly, but DIGITAL fake money. If an indie dev includes the option to buy extra gold or equipment or whatever, I don't have a problem with supporting them, with the key word being option.

I just hate the naivety of the average iPhone owner lol
12-26-2010, 10:50 PM
#5
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Over there --->
Posts: 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradiso View Post
I agree with pretty much everything you said. It may seem like a petty issue but it really frustrates me when I see games like zombie farm or smurfs so high in the charts. I know it's all opinion based, play what you want and all that, but my opinion is that games that exist to extract money from us shamelessly are garbage.

I know they're in it to make money, but come on, draw the line somewhere. Any decent businessman can tell you, do what you love and the money will come.

The IAPs that are required to pass certain parts of a game, or to keep playing for more than a few minutes are what really get me. People are actually spending real money on fake money. Not even physical fake money like monopoly, but DIGITAL fake money. If an indie dev includes the option to buy extra gold or equipment or whatever, I don't have a problem with supporting them, with the key word being option.

I just hate the naivety of the average iPhone owner lol
I agree, you should see Gun Bros! It's $10 for 65 "warbucks", and then it's 240 warbucks for one of the better weapons. And there are DOZENS of uses for warbucks, most of them costing more than thirty warbucks. RIP-OFF. And people actually do buy them.

I do Dutch translations! ı̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̨̨̨̨̨̨
12-26-2010, 11:06 PM
#6
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by tootinyman View Post
I agree, you should see Gun Bros! It's $10 for 65 "warbucks", and then it's 240 warbucks for one of the better weapons. And there are DOZENS of uses for warbucks, most of them costing more than thirty warbucks. RIP-OFF. And people actually do buy them.
Exactly. I don't know the numbers exactly, but I imagine theyd make at least the same amount of money selling the full game, with a halfway decent store system in game, than by ripping people off left and right with the IAPs. Plus they'd have a better reputation, which would lead to more sales.

This gets into the whole "why do devs seem to completely ignore the customer" issue. Like IB adding gold as an IAP by popular demand. I'd like to know how much the guy who demanded that is making from people buying gold.

I could rant for hours about IB, and the problems I have with it.

Id love to hear the reasoning behind freemium games. Reasoning that actually makes sense. People say that there are millions of people that enjoy them, but which one of those people would enjoy it less if the games weren't crippled?
12-26-2010, 11:14 PM
#7
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Over there --->
Posts: 594
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradiso View Post
Exactly. I don't know the numbers exactly, but I imagine theyd make at least the same amount of money selling the full game, with a halfway decent store system in game, than by ripping people off left and right with the IAPs. Plus they'd have a better reputation, which would lead to more sales.

This gets into the whole "why do devs seem to completely ignore the customer" issue. Like IB adding gold as an IAP by popular demand. I'd like to know how much the guy who demanded that is making from people buying gold.

I could rant for hours about IB, and the problems I have with it.

Id love to hear the reasoning behind freemium games. Reasoning that actually makes sense. People say that there are millions of people that enjoy them, but which one of those people would enjoy it less if the games weren't crippled?
Damn, you replied fast. And yes, I totally agree with you. The only problem is, they'll keep doing it because they don't have to put as much effort into those games as FULL, non-sh*t games, and they end up making even more money.

I do Dutch translations! ı̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̸̨̨̨̨̨̨

Last edited by TooTinyMan; 12-26-2010 at 11:16 PM.
12-26-2010, 11:23 PM
#8
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by tootinyman View Post
Damn, you replied fast. And yes, I totally agree with you. The only problem is, they'll keep doing it because they don't have to put as much effort into those games as FULL, non-sh*t games, and they end up making even more money.
iOS gaming is my pass time between work, college, family, and all the other junk. So I jump at the opportunity to vent my frustrations to someone lol. Maybe I'll start posting rants about other iOS stuff too..

Your right though, it's easy money. The world would be a better place if there were more developers committed to creating fun, well priced products. I'll pay $60 if the game is $60 worth of enjoyment. Unfortunately, the corporate big shots and wealthy soccer moms who buy iPhones hardly know what the app store button does, besides give them that angry birds game everyone is talking about at the office.
12-27-2010, 12:06 AM
#9
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 837
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradiso View Post
This gets into the whole "why do devs seem to completely ignore the customer" issue. Like IB adding gold as an IAP by popular demand. I'd like to know how much the guy who demanded that is making from people buying gold.

I could rant for hours about IB, and the problems I have with it.
the ability to buy more gold via IAP in IB has absolutely no affect on the gameplay. the game is the exact same experience as it was on launch day. there is no less gold available in the game than prior to the IAP option. i don't know whose idea it was to include this option in the update, but it has no impact on the experience and really shouldn't hinder anyone in their enjoyment of the game.

if you like the game, accumulating gold is a painless exercise. if you don't like the game, you're not even playing it...

i don't understand what the problem is...

GameCenter = McCREE

*please, no more RR3 friend requests*

Last edited by McCREE; 12-27-2010 at 03:05 AM.
12-27-2010, 12:21 AM
#10
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,282
Quote:
Originally Posted by McCREE View Post
the ability to buy more gold via IAP in IB has absolutely no effect on the gameplay. the game is the exact same experience as it was on launch day. there is no less gold available in the game than prior to the IAP option. i don't know whose idea it was to include this option in the update, but it has no impact on the experience and really shouldn't hinder anyone in their enjoyment of the game.

if you like the game, accumulating gold is a painless exercise. if you don't like the game, you're not even playing it...

i don't understand what the problem is...
It doesn't have any effect, which is why I couldn't care less whether it's there or not, it's that they said popular demand was the reason it was included that bugs me. Maybe it's unusual, but the way a dev handles public relations affects how I feel about their games. I highly doubt there was any demand for it at all, but I really don't know for a fact. I'd prefer devs be up front with things. If it's only there cause they think it will sell and make them money, don't say it's cause people demanded it.

A small nitpick I know, but oh well, that's why I said rant