Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Games

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."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

Comments Filter:
  • Also (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:03PM (#46963021)

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

    • Re:Also (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:54PM (#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.

    • Or they just have a lot of disposable income...which given that the statistics here work like an extreme example of Pareto, it would make sense.

      Still though I'm not sure I'd identify this as being a "problem."

      If your concept is really that good, just publish it yourself. Or crowdfund it. Both models have been extremely successful lately. I'd wager that the reason the big monolithic publishers are merging so much (e.g. EA buying out a bunch of other publishers) is because of this exact reason - the mid-sized

    • They won't just lettuce play for FREE!

      (Woohoo! +1 for creative use of vegetable joke! No ... really, the freemium model sucks and I'd rather pay a few bucks for a game for mobile/tablet -- but that isn't where the market is heading ...)
  • by alen (225700) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:05PM (#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

    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      You could also make a case that the new "free-to-play" games are essentially the "demos" of old, but they're just a lot sneakier about the conversion to the "paid" version. I'd bet the conversion rate is probably similar. Also, you're exactly correct in your assumptions about the revenue breakdown. The last company I was at made MMOs, and there's a lot of research/marketing data showing how free to pay games tend to make a killing off a fairly small number of players that end up playing a LOT.

      I'm not sur

      • You could also make a case that the new "free-to-play" games are essentially the "demos" of old, but they're just a lot sneakier about the conversion to the "paid" version.

        Most OUYA games that I've tried use a shareware model, where the user can buy the paid version as an "entitlement", a purchase that the user keeps as long as the platform remains in operation. A lot of the hated freemium games, on the other hand, tend to offer no way to pay once to unlock everything permanently. They handle all purchases as "consumables", which need to be purchased multiple times in order to keep playing.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Most OUYA games that I've tried use a shareware model, where the user can buy the paid version as an "entitlement", a purchase that the user keeps as long as the platform remains in operation. A lot of the hated freemium games, on the other hand, tend to offer no way to pay once to unlock everything permanently. They handle all purchases as "consumables", which need to be purchased multiple times in order to keep playing.

          That's a very good point - the F2P definitely is much more of a "rental" model with heavy use of one-time consumables, although that's not necessarily always the case. So, maybe the "demo" analogy doesn't always apply, but that tends to happen with analogies.

          I'm not a fan of the overall model, of course, but one way in which I think it works pretty well is when the core gameplay is free, but customers can optionally spend money on more cosmetic items. Some of Valves games work this way. Guild Wars 2 is a

          • by Retron (577778)

            Frankly, though, what irks me most is when companies double-dip, or even triple-dip. Some MMOs would not only charge a monthly fee, but also made you purchase the box as well. Then on top of that, they started selling in-store items. Seriously? Thankfully, no one can really get away with that anymore - possibly the only positive thing I can say about the F2P trend.

            World of Warcraft is doing pretty well by all accounts - you have to pay monthly for that, buy the base game and expansions as they come out, plu

    • I'm having trouble seeing how Civilization and Sim City were like slot machines. Wasn't there quite a bit of skill involved?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the business model on many of them is similar to slot machines too.

      a number of these titles will NOT let players pass levels until a certain income target has been met, until that point it will continue to give them an impossible level (just like a losing spin) while presenting them with options to buy helpers to pass it.

      because everything is tied to a central account this income can come from any one of the players so one person might buy something and the game servers will then allow another 10 people to

      • by Quirkz (1206400)

        Wow, that's fascinating. Far more complex than I'd imagined might be going on at the back end.

  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:06PM (#46963037) Homepage Journal

    People aren't going to pay for stuff that they don't need. Games aren't necessary. It would have to be a hell of a game on your phone to justify spending money.

    Charging money for every game would just assure that very few or none of them get played. A Chili's near me put in small touchscreen terminals that handle credit card swipes at each table. Avoids waiting for the server to bring you the bill, it's nice. They also have games on the terminal. Every one costs at least a buck. I haven't seen one get played yet.

    Creating a new economy doesn't work if no one shows up.

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:14PM (#46963107)

      First, it requires you to design a game with logical free to play elements. This restricts the nature of games that can be written.

      As for charging for games means none would be played- there's a couple of good counterexamples. Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, Xbox. All of the companies that develop for all of those.

      I've been a games since I was 5. I'm ok spending 50 or 70 dollars on a good game. I have never once paid a dime for a free to play game, and it's next to impossible to get me to download them- I know they're going to try and nickle and dime me or charge me a fortune if I don't want to slowly grind stuff out (or make it impossible to play parts of the game if I don't pay). And I'm far from the only gamer like that. So they pick up a large number of people who won't ever pay a dime while disenchanting the existing base of people who are known to play video games. That's idiotic.

      • by mlts (1038732) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:29PM (#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.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Which one of those five things are the three things that happen with F2P games?

          Some games are fairly reasonable about this. Lets look at a few heavy hitters in the freemium space.

          Candy Crush - never demands a purchase, ever, if you allow it to use Facebook data, and asks for $0.99 for new blocks of levels if you don't. Every level is beatable without assistance. [I have three stars without money, on every level through the high 300's.]
          Simpson's Tapped Out - similarly, no pressure to ever buy anything for

          • by AuMatar (183847)

            CandyCrush is malware, stealing your contact info and selling it to advertisers. A clear case of #1.
            Simpson's Tapped Out is 2/3. And I would never pay a dime for, or buy any product from a company that makes games where you can pay for an advantage.

            • by mythosaz (572040)

              What "advantage" do you get in a single-player game?

              Over whom do you get this advantage, what what would you use it for?

            • by toddestan (632714)

              Simpson's Tapped out is a building game where you're reconstructing Springfield. It's not really a #3, because while there are characters and buildings that are premium you don't need them to progress in the game, and since it's essentially a single player game you don't get a competitive advantage by having them, and the major characters and buildings from the show are all "free". It's more of a #4 where the items you get more or less are "cool" without really changing the gameplay, though there are a lo

          • Candy Crush - never demands a purchase, ever, if you allow it to use Facebook data, and asks for $0.99 for new blocks of levels if you don't.

            For one thing, it costs money to get verified on Facebook unless you happen to already have your own mobile phone with a plan that can receive unlimited text messages. You can't verify more than one Facebook account with the same phone number, which doesn't work so well for people who share a phone. After The Huffington Post required connecting a verified Facebook account before posting comments, a lot of people stopped commenting because they don't want to pay a mobile phone manufacturer and a cellular car

            • by mythosaz (572040)

              I get Candy Crush Saga lives every 30 minutes or so, rain or shine. It doesn't "demand" anything.

              Your other argument is that Facebook costs the price of a text message?!?

            • which doesn't work so well for people who share a phone.

              There are still people that share a phone?

              • by tepples (727027)

                There are still people that share a phone?

                Yes. They're called families with land lines.

            • I hit the mobile phone roadblock requirement a couple years ago.

              I stopped using facebook.

              I recently got some email messages that friends were posting things and when I logged on it looks like the block was gone.

              It was there for months. I really don't care about FB any more.
              Just one more time waster of time I can't afford to waste.

              I also didn't like the weaselly way they would promise to keep your privacy and then change the rules to violate your privacy, get caught, and then promise to keep your privacy (r

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:59PM (#46963371)

          When you look at the permissions and a "free" fleshlight app demands everything under the sun

          Tell me, where can I find this free fleshlight app?

          • by 7-Vodka (195504)
            I only have one rule.

            Anything that goes in or around your dick is not something you want to cheap out on.

        • by Tom (822)

          #2 or #3 will get the app tossed off the device and a one star review.

          Same here, but I've also noticed that the designers are now hiding the grind during early gameplay, creating the appearance that you can actually play until you are (they hope) hooked and engaged strongly enough to make resisting to pay more difficult (Planetside 2, I'm looking at you...)

      • Too many times have I read F2P game reviews with people complaining that their microtransactions got "lost". So when I reinstall a game, what are the odds that my purchases will get applied? I'd rather buy a physical copy of a console game where I know it'll work every time I run it. Also, most phone~tablet games aren't very good, lots of crap apps out there. I try em, I uninstall em.
      • It's interesting timing, this discussion coming just weeks after Blizzard's first foray into Mobile, Hearthstone, launched on the iPad (coming soon for Android and iPhone). Hearthstone might possibly be the best freemium game in recent memory, with great balance between "Yes, you can excel at this card-battling game without paying money, with a reasonable amount of grinding" and "Spend $30 or so, and it will shortcut much of the grinding to build decks, but you still need skill to actually win anything" N
        • by Quirkz (1206400)

          Yeah, Hearthstone seems set up okay for getting anything you want without paying, given enough time. Their crafting system allow you to focus on what you want and get around some of the randomness of the packs. On the other hand, after a month of playing, I'm nowhere near having even a most of the available cards, and it's starting to feel a little grindy.

      • by pla (258480)
        So they pick up a large number of people who won't ever pay a dime while disenchanting the existing base of people who are known to play video games. That's idiotic.

        I think, though, that pretty much perfectly explains the 24 hour trend mentioned...

        I play free games almost exclusively. A great many of them make it very obvious that you won't get far without paying - And that alone explains the rapid player die-off. Most free gamers don't want to pay to play, and once they discover that a given game ma
      • by Tom (822)

        So they pick up a large number of people who won't ever pay a dime while disenchanting the existing base of people who are known to play video games. That's idiotic.

        From a gamer perspective - yes.

        From a business perspective - no. The demographic they target is far larger than the old gamer community.

        Fortunately, there are also counter-movements. Small, but they exist. Indie developers often go the old pay model, partially thanks to things like Kickstarter or Steam which make it easier to handle the whole payment side. (shameless plug: my own game, see footer, also avoids the F2P plague.) And then there are some big names that go different ways, like Guild Wars 2 with i

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by ShieldW0lf (601553)

      Entertainment is a shit industry to be in. It's never about taking an upfront approach and bringing value, it's always about manipulating your audience to earn a buck. Find something practical to do with that pocket computer we call a phone and people will probably be interested in giving you their money.

    • The big problem with free-to-play is that all of the games tend to follow the same pattern:

      It contains an in-game currency that is difficult or impossible to earn during gameplay, so it must be purchased with real money.

      In some skill based games, levels and goals are procedurally generated, so there is no way to actually "win" the game. This includes most 3 lane running games and hunting simulators. (Minion Rush, Subway Surfers, Stampede Run, Deer Hunter Reloaded, etc.)

      In other skill based games, the leve

      • by Ark42 (522144)

        You can always just Game Genie the F2P games save files. Modify a few bytes and you can have 2,147,483,647 of any power up you want. The biggest upside to this is how you just stop caring about the game because it's just a pointlessly easy task, and not even a game anymore.

    • "People aren't going to pay for stuff that they don't need". Say what ? You do realize there are whole industries about precisely that, right ? Entertainment, luxury, holiday travel...

      "Charging money for every game would just assure that very few or none of them get played". Indeed, it's not as if there were a huge for-pay gaming industry on PCs and consoles. Oh, wait...

  • Red Herring (Score:5, Insightful)

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

      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.

      WTF happened to free, limited demos?

      How did we get from there to people paying money to play alpha releases?

    • by Nikker (749551)
      Just because currently 3% of people pay money for this particular gaming template doesn't mean none of the remaining 97% will never pay for anything. You are looking for a plate at a table that is getting smaller, quicker. The games that have attracted the payments of those 3% have been basically created, soliciting the remainder is the latest and greatest.
  • by mythosaz (572040) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:06PM (#46963047)

    Sure, it's a problem getting a big game funded if you don't have a proven revenue model to present to your investors, but that's not unique to games.

    "Gee, I'm sure if you just fronted me the money to make this, we'd absolutely make some money back because it'll be awesome, I promise!"

    Publishers have limited resources, so they bet on what's making them money -- microtransactions.

    Plenty of good games have a fixed one-time purchase price. Nobody is stopping you from making the next Super Hexagon.

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:07PM (#46963059) Homepage Journal

    ... our 0.2% benevolent overlord angel venture capitalist gamer demographic who will now guide the development of all gaming.

    Can't find the link (help me out here), but there was a recent interview with a f2p game studio that basically had a developer dedicated to keeping one particular gamer happy after this gamer had basically dropped $10k in in-game purchases.

    So does this mean trickle-down economics does work in some domains?

  • It's a money cow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:10PM (#46963079) Journal
    Here in Sweden, free to play apps are a money cow, you can milk it endlessly. We've had stuff like that on national television, cases where kids have paid several THOUSANDS for extra features to their so called "free apps", (farm heroes saga anyone?). Now even Unreal Tournament dev. system want to go this way, free to...well...download...you figure out the rest.
    • Re:It's a money cow. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@y a h o o . com> on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:40PM (#46963251)

      Now even Unreal Tournament dev. system want to go this way, free to...well...download...you figure out the rest.

      Unreal tournament will be a very interesting case study over the next year or two, because there are a lot of different variables that don't apply to mobile gaming.

      First, a few questions regarding the market model:
      1.) Will the game be sufficiently open source that you can download the source, write in the MindPrison Content Market, and distribute the recompile? Android technically lets you do this, but short of Amazon, no market has taken hold since Google Play comes on literally every Android phone sold through carriers. Unreal Tournament is not as similarly beholden.
      2.) If it's not that free, will it be possible for modders to release their maps independently, and for players to install them without going through the market? Also different from the mobile market since every UT release ever has had this system in place; users only familiar with iOS will be confused but I see the overlap between the two markets as vanishingly small.

      Next, a few differences with the TRUE market. F2P games are, ultimately, marketing to players. Unreal Tournament makes money another way: directly through Unreal Engine 4 subscriptions and the gross revenue therefrom. $20/month per subscriber starts to add up when we add in all the modders and map makers. Similarly, the next Gears of War release will make Epic a fortune with that 5% gross revenue thing happening. Epic doesn't need to make a killing from players in order to get their hookers and blow. Unreal Tournament is a tech demo for the engine and a low-barrier-of-entry for indi developers to get started.

      Finally, the Epic Games that released Unreal Tournament 3 was pretty awesome. Why? Because despite not selling as many copies of that year's Call of Duty release, the folks over at Epic Games did release five update packs including the Titan pack (which had several modifiers, new gameplay modes, and new maps) for free, a year and a half after its release. It was also the only game I'm aware of that had a full plastic-disc release that never required an internet connection but also let players put their CD key into Steam and get all the wonderfulness of having the game on Steam. You don't see that kind of dedication from Activision and while it's been quite some time, I'd at least like to think that some of those people are still in charge of making decisions here. I'm fully aware that it's an unreasonable amount of optimism to have, but what can I say - I have hope.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Don't be silly. That $20/month is for UE4 so people can build their own games instead of using broken tools like Unity. The UT being worked on just happens to be a community project by those wanting to much around with UE4 and work on a UT game. It took them less than one month to have substantial work completed, all by volunteers and fans. Once they put a lid on it, the user based modding tools will be created. All for free.

  • "The people who PAY FOR GAMES, want FREEMIUM." Just because you state a bunch of interesting statistics about what constitutes who puts money down for games, doesn't mean the end result isn't meaningful. As a business, what do you care what your non-paying customers want? They are not customers. You're asking for money, the people with the money are telling you how they recoup their money and you earn money yourself. Perhaps you should listen.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Time to realize that overall there's a pretty statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers in the first place.

    Just go visit any gaming forum, get on any game that allows voice chat.

    Everyone thinks that their game idea is great... It's probably not. Most games just suck. But if you've got such a great unique and original idea, why do you need an investor? build it. Don't have the time, the know how or need a large team? well at least nobody needs to waste time playing it ever.

    • But if you've got such a great unique and original idea, why do you need an investor? build it.

      Some game concepts work best with positional input, others with directional input. For a game that works well with positional input, like Candy Crush Saga or Plants vs. Zombies, mobile works well. But for directional controls, it's either PC, consoles, or handheld consoles, and only one of those is really open to indie startups. The publisher acts as your liaison to the console maker. Sure, it's possible to make a game for iOS 7 or Android that uses a MOGA clip-on gamepad, but have you ever seen one of thos

  • by eric31415927 (861917) on Friday May 09, 2014 @06:22PM (#46963139)

    I like old Avalon Hill strategy battle type games. We paid $60 each for them - and I'd buy modern computerized versions of them at the same price. Each player could use their mobile/tablet as his or her interface. Common elements (i.e. public information) could be displayed on a large TV or computer screen. Why aren't these games (re)made?

    • by brit74 (831798)
      I'd bet it's hard to break-even once you've done the work of converting them. First, almost nobody is going to pay $60 for them, like people did decades ago. The bar for computer games has been raised, and the market is full of people trying to sell games. (It's also possible that the developers of those old games created them because they liked making games, even if the pay was bad. For someone wanting to make a decent living-wage, this type of game might not be the way to go - i.e. only create them if you
      • by St.Creed (853824)

        I guess it should have been named "Bird Empire" and all would have been well (Flappy Bird, Angry Bird, ...)

  • what I could understand was that they cried because they don't get others money to do games with and that their games get competition from freemium games
  • It's always been about what will make the company the most money.

    Mos game companies don't give a crap about making games players will enjoy, they only want to make games that will improve their own bottom line.

    And the free-to-play model, or more accurately titled "play to win" model, will get you there with the least amount of effort.

  • Wait what? Publishers? Investors? Just what kind of a mobile game are you thinking of making that requires publishers and investors to get involved? Isn't the grand benefit of the mobile platform that you can self-publish and that the games are typically small enough that they can be coded by a one man team? That you can reach a wide audience by paying the yearly fee in for the Play Store and then spamming facebook? Why would you be pitching anything to a publisher for the mobile arena.

    That said publishers

    • Just what kind of a mobile game are you thinking of making that requires publishers and investors to get involved?

      A game that relies on directional control. Phones and tablets good for point-and-click games or one-button or tilt-controlled endless runners. But something like Mega Man or Castlevania really needs a directional control, and I haven't seen a lot of people with a MOGA gamepad clipped onto a cell phone. A publisher helps your one-man team deal with device makers whose names start with S and N.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Samsung and ... who is N? Clearly not Nintendo, they don't produce a phone, nor do they have a platform full of free-to-play games. Also I haven't seen many games relying on directional control on the phone for precisely the reasons you list.

        Wait you do realise when we're talking mobile and free to play we're talking about phones and tablets right? None of this has to do with actual handheld consoles.

        • Also I haven't seen many games relying on directional control on the phone for precisely the reasons you list.

          So what's the best way to adapt a platformer to a phone (or other indie-friendly platform) without making it a 100 percent linear endless runner like Rayman Jungle Run?

          Samsung and ... who is N?

          In one market, Sony and Nintendo. In another market, Samsung and Nokia. And even in the latter (mobile phone) market, a publisher helps you design a promotion strategy for your game so that potential players have a chance of seeing it.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            The same way you adapt a motion controlled wii game to the PC, you don't. Not a single game with convention mechanics has been widely successful on the phone. The vast majority of successful mobile games rely on point and click interfaces or are turn based. On the flip side I also haven't seen a platformer pushed by a publisher that also bundles a gamepad or other assistive device to allow its game mechanics to work, so the type of game running on a phone has very little to do with the discussion which is w

            • by tepples (727027)

              On the flip side I also haven't seen a platformer pushed by a publisher that also bundles a gamepad or other assistive device to allow its game mechanics to work

              Disc games can bundle specialized controllers, such as DDR, Wii Fit, and Rock Band. Download games aren't.

              so the type of game running on a phone has very little to do with the discussion which is why do you need a traditional publisher on a mobile platform which provides a self publishing mechanism?

              A developer doesn't need a publisher on the touch-only devices, but a developer might need a publisher to get a particular game out to the public at all if it isn't suitable for touch-only devices.

              • by thegarbz (1787294)

                Agreed, but none of this matters since we're talking about mobile free-to-play games, and as far as I know they are essentially non-existent outside of touchy devices.

  • I used to work for a very large player in the adult online space, video content and the like.

    Their research showed that customers who signed up had a window, measured in weeks, in which they'd blow a bunch of cash, then stop. This is why if you do sign up for an adult site you'll see their content, and ads for content from other sites (some they own, some their competitors). The links to competitors surprised me, but it makes sense. There's a very high Cost-Per-Action (CPA) in that space, and the window to

  • everyone knows that the more ppl who play your game the more money it will make. i for one will very rarely buy a paid game that i know i will only play once or a couple of times. the vast majority of money that people get from free to play games is advertisement revenue(if it is popular), or cash shop from compulsive whales who spend money for no reason
  • A phone is just the wrong platform for a decent game anyway. Screen is too small and hard to read, the controls are amazingly clumsy, and even web based flash games are easier to use than the phone version of the same game. The only thing a phone game does is give you something to do while waiting for a meeting to start, and no one is going to pay for that.

    Sure there's a possibility that someone will eventually figure out a game concept that is new and unique that actually works on a phone and is good eno

    • Screen is too small and hard to read

      Even the original (pre-Retina) iPhone's screen is bigger than that of, say, the Game Boy Advance.

      Sure there's a possibility that someone will eventually figure out a game concept that is new and unique that actually works on a phone

      If it uses point-and-click controls, it'll work. But you're right that anything needing a directional control is better on a PC than on a phone.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The original gameboy had physical controls that didn't take up screen space, nor did you put your grease fingers all over the screen and smear it up.

        Point and click controls on phones suck ass because you have to put your big fat finger on the screen, obscure your view, hope you touch just the right spot ... and smear up the screen.

        • by tepples (727027)

          The original gameboy had physical controls that didn't take up screen space

          So the applicable metric is the size of the screen and control surface combined. In that case, the iPad has just about every Game Boy and Nintendo DS product beat. (I'm not sure whether the iPad mini is bigger than the 3DS XL.) The real problem with lack of physical controls is that a flat sheet of glass makes a poor directional control. On the other hand, it's reportedly easier for indie developers to get their works onto touch-only devices.

  • Let the 'mobile gaming' scene derp along without a clue. It's a phone, not a gaming machine. I think at best mobile gaming is just supposed to get you through that 30 minute bus ride, or subway. And distractions are so high in these situations, your brain isn't going to handle much more than a sub-par freebie game.

    Leave the gaming to the big boys.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday May 09, 2014 @08:13PM (#46963769)

    Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again.

    That's an amazing success rate, since Sturgeon's Law pretty much holds here just as it does for so many other things: 90% of them are crap.

    66 percent have never played beyond the first 24 hours and indeed most purchases happen in the first week of play.

    Most paid mobile games I've played haven't lasted more than a few days. They get played, then I move on. What's the point here? Most of them aren't, say, Checkers or Chess or Poker. You play, you figure it out or solve the secrets. You're done.

    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.

    That's because 99.8% of them figured out it's crap before they got suckered into paying. Again: what's the issue here?

    This is a statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers and nothing that gives you a basis to make claims about "what people want.

    Maybe because there wasn't a statistically significant number of games that people actually wanted.

    Recent winners in my book: The Room 2, and Catan. I paid for both, and I am glad I did. (The board game Settlers of Catan is in the home, of course, but it's nice to have a mobile version.)

    There are some other "free" games that seemed decent, but I round-filed them because they constantly pestered me for money or "social" likes or mentions, or activated "notifications" in the middle of the night, etc.

    I really don't mean to be cynical. There are some really good games out there. But with the current state of the "market", you have to wade through a lot of shit to find them.

    I think it will settle down, sooner or later.

  • I am willing to be 90% of those games a crap no one would miss if they disappeared. Thats how I feel about the android app store in general.
  • My, admittedly anecdotical, example is a friend of mine who used to spend quite a bit of money on such "free" games. Then he started playing more of them. And more of them. And now he's playing like two dozen of them and doesn't spend a cent on them anymore. What made him spend was simply that these games hook you and then, when you're just about to enjoy it, they tell you "nono, no more today, you may play again tomorrow ... or throw me some coin".

    He switched from throwing coins their way to switching to a

  • There is now such a glut that people are spoiled and few are willing to pay money, even after spending a lot of time playing the free part. Try making something genuinely useful and you may do better.

  • The reason why that freemium crap is so entrenched is because most developers forgot the concept of the demo. It is very hard to spend money on something you don't know you might like, hence why freemium is more popular. Just make higher quality games, charge more if you want and provide a demo. Personally I'm sick and tired of all the flood of crappy games for mobile, especially after you can see stuff like Civilization Revolutions, that proves that the platform can be used for much more than a pea shooter

    • Personally I'm sick and tired of all the flood of crappy games for mobile, especially after you can see stuff like Civilization Revolutions, that proves that the platform can be used for much more than a pea shooter.

      Civ: Rev is a port from 360/PS3/DS! Just like how that highly rated Android Bards Tale game is a port of the PS2 game.

      If you liked Civ: Rev, maybe try Great Little War Game?

  • Who cares if it is only 0.2% With a large enough population that is still a lot of money. What is important is if it is enough to make a (nice) living from it for you and your staff.
    I know shops that do not get 0.2% of the population of a country in their store and still make a good living.

    When I talked with a marketing guy, I asked him if he wasn't frustrated that a campaign only resulted in X% reaction and from those only Y% sales. He said he never looked at the people who did not react, he was only inter

  • We have too much entertainment.

    I retired a couple years ago and I *can't keep up*. Every week, there are at least 10 hours of material more than I can watch just from TV alone. Then there are computer games, board games, and real life stuff like vacations.

    It amazes me that they are able to keep the prices up as well as they have in some areas.

    So if I have 15 entertainment options to choose from that entertain me enough and 5 of them are free- at the least- I'll do the 5 free ones first.

    It is *very* rare for anything wonderful or unique or special enough that I'm willing to pay a premium for it.

  • "Recent data shows 20 percent of mobile games get opened once and never again." I was trying to understand what these numbers mean but I failed. What's your point? If the cost of game is zero then anyone can try it, just like anyone could install demo version or just watch gameplay on youtube. While I agree that in-app purchases can destroy games (and perfect example is Dungeon Keeper) - I don't see any logical conclusion in your numbers.

  • who wants to pay for a crappy phone game?

    Dying breed I know (according to "markers"), but when I want to play a game, I use a PC, because the screen is larger, and the input devices are better.

    And also when I'm out and about, I'm actually there to do something or enjoy something, not look at my phone.
  • The statistics are about what I would expect. There is no way to try most games being sold online except to download them. You can't try them in the store. If you could, most people wouldn't bother to even download so download statistics would plummet.

    Most people download the games so they can try them. Most games are awful so they get opened once, tried and then ignored or even deleted.

    A few games get tried a few times but then ignored and deleted.

    A very few games are really worth it so those ones people p

  • by Tom (822)

    It's a sorry development and the various articles posted recently on the topic are all right on the money: It kills creativity. When your major design consideration is monetarization, actually making a good game becomes a secondary goal. Like the sequel-mania of Hollywood, it also reduces the willingness to take a risk with a new concept. The App Store may have 100,000 games you can download, but if you look behind the visuals and minor variations, it has probably about 100 actual games, each in 1,000 varia

Time sharing: The use of many people by the computer.

Working...