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How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mobile gaming is crystallizing around one concept: games must be free-to-play. As an industry, it seems to work — there's no shortage of players willing to drop money on microtransactions and in-app purchases. But for making compelling or unusual games, this is a problem. 'Pitch a title that isn't games-as-a-service to publishers or investors and they'll practically install new doors to slam in your face. ... Free-to-play advocates naturally think their model is dominant because "that's what mobile gamers want," explaining that in-app purchases are just the players way of saying they care. If they've entertained the more dull notion that free-to-play is popular because... well, it's free? They seem not to let on. ... Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again. 66 percent have never played beyond the first 24 hours and indeed most purchases happen in the first week of play. Amazingly only around two to three percent of gamers pay anything at all for games, and even more hair-raising is the fact that 50 percent of all revenue comes from just 0.2 percent of players. This is a statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers and nothing that gives you a basis to make claims about "what people want."'"
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How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

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  • Also (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:03PM (#46963021)

    I would wager that most people that pay a significant amount of money towards these games aren't happy... just compulsive...

  • by alen (225700) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:05PM (#46963033)

    like the old Civilization and Sim City games that gave you periodic awards for overcoming obstacles. you just pay to do it faster
    same concept and lots of times same game mechanics except for the micro payments
    just like a slot machine. keep putting quarters in and once in a while you win

    Fremium just takes the tiny percentage of people with psychological issues who are prone to paying a lot of money and make A LOT of money off them

  • Red Herring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fwipp (1473271) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:06PM (#46963043)

    Sure, only 3% of your players give you money if you're free-to-play. But if 3% of players of a F2P game is more than 100% of players of a $3 game, it doesn't matter. It's like arguing "If we implement super-awesome-DRM, our piracy will go down to 1%" without an understanding that these actions may hurt total sales.

    Relative numbers are pretty useless without the bigger picture.

  • by mlts (1038732) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:29PM (#46963189)

    Usually one of three things happen with a F2P game:

    1: It is malware. When you look at the permissions and a "free" fleshlight app demands everything under the sun including su access, something isn't kosher.

    2: It is a game that is extremely grindy where you can spend hours doing repetitive tasks, or shell out $10 for some currency (brains, smurfberries, crowns) to make life easier.

    3: It comes with 1-2 characters/weapons/etc., and you have to spend a buck each if you want anything fun to play with while playing the game. Essentially like DLC in consoles.

    4: You are buying some fluff (like your vehicles with a different color) that don't change gameplay, but are a cool aesthetic.

    5: It is pretty much a demo, with a couple levels, and you buy the rest.

    Number 4 and 5 make sense. #1 won't get the game past the permissions menu, and a report. #2 or #3 will get the app tossed off the device and a one star review.

  • Re:Also (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 09, 2014 @05:54PM (#46963341) Journal

    I would wager that most people that pay a significant amount of money towards these games aren't happy... just compulsive...

    And they aren't even getting comped drinks... They should put down the smartphone and head to Vegas.

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