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How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.

Cellphones 115

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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Also (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963021)

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

Re:Also (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#46963341)

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.

Re:Also (1)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 5 months ago | (#46964153)

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 publishers can't compete with the indie ones, so they either fold or get bought out.

PCs and Mobile are especially fertile ground for that, because the costs for entry are tiny. In fact, while consoles are usually the first for the big name titles (primarily a result of Sony or Microsoft paying bucks to get exclusive deals,) they're usually the last for the small but innovative concepts. (And often the console version is half-baked because they lack the flexibility of PCs - think games like Starcraft.)

I cannot understand why ... (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 5 months ago | (#46964605)

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 ...)

Re: I cannot understand why ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965369)

Lettuce
Turnip
The beet

they aren't games, they are like slot machines (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 5 months ago | (#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

Re:they aren't games, they are like slot machines (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 5 months ago | (#46963163)

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 sure my own little startup will ever get involved in the mobile market. If I do, I'd like to say away from "free" versions and instead engage fewer users who are willing to pay for a slightly more premium product. I think I can probably get away with that, as my overhead is pretty low, but we'll see.

Entitlements vs. consumables (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46963567)

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.

Re:Entitlements vs. consumables (2)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 5 months ago | (#46964169)

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 buy-to-play, and only supplements their income with a more cosmetic-focused in-game shop, and I sort of like that balance.

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.

We're certainly seeing the pendulum swinging pretty wildly to the F2P model, but I'm not convinced that it's necessarily an indicator of a permanent trend in gaming. It's just that the phone market is still pretty new, so I think a lot of people are going to be suckered into these things at first. Get enough of them disgusted with the sleazy nature of it, and we could well see a backlash, but it will take some time for that to happen.

Re:Entitlements vs. consumables (1)

Retron (577778) | about 5 months ago | (#46965823)

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, plus it has an in-game store where you can buy, for example, a flying horse for the "bargain" price of a couple of months' subscription.

EverQuest does the same thing too, but that has far fewer subscribers than WoW.

Re:they aren't games, they are like slot machines (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#46965067)

I'm having trouble seeing how Civilization and Sim City were like slot machines. Wasn't there quite a bit of skill involved?

Re:they aren't games, they are like slot machines (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965445)

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 pass the level for free by giving them better 'luck' (a winning spin)

this works because eventually a player will become frustrated enough to buy a helper, but it also gives the illusion to the other players that it is possible to play the games and win by 'skill' without buying anything (if they have the patience to fail a level many hundreds of times) There's minimal actual skill involved with a large number of the games, you pass the key levels when the company that made the game want you to pass them. (other levels are actually skill based to help with the illusion)

the balance is fine, but I've seen the code for some titles that were popular at one point, and this is exactly what they do.

How is 'free to play' constricting? (2, Informative)

HBI (604924) | about 5 months ago | (#46963037)

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.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (5, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (3, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#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:How is 'free to play' constricting? (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46963239)

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 cash unless you're completely impatient or just have to have something. The entire game is available for free unless you want completely optional items that offer little advantage over just playing.

I just started playing the Marvel Puzzle Quest game. Well worth the $10 I decided to give them to open the game up to a point where I could easily earn the rest through play. ...and if I hadn't liked the game, I would have never had to give them the 10.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (2)

AuMatar (183847) | about 5 months ago | (#46963545)

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.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46963849)

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

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

Facebook costs money (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46963795)

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 carrier just to get verified on Facebook. Some Facebook users even report running into a "roadblock" that won't let them use the site at all unless they verify a mobile phone number. Does Candy Crush Saga require the user's Facebook account to be verified? For another, Candy Crush Saga demands payments for "lives".

Re:Facebook costs money (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46963841)

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?!?

Re:Facebook costs money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965173)

Facebook is a costly service. You just don't pay directly in cash for its use.

Re:Facebook costs money (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46963845)

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

There are still people that share a phone?

Re:Facebook costs money (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46964187)

There are still people that share a phone?

Yes. They're called families with land lines.

Re:Facebook costs money (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#46965491)

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 (rinse, wash, repeat).

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#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?

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46964175)

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?

Tell me, who are you so I know never to borrow your phone :)

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | about 5 months ago | (#46964185)

I only have one rule.

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

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965193)

I only have one rule.

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

That's what she said!

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965483)

I play a lot of freemium games and only pay occasionally for options that are more like purchasing the app, but absolutely never for boosts. I also don't play any games that require the use of paid boosts to win. For me, the whole point of most games is that they're challenging, so I don't understand paying money to breeze through those challenges.

Two examples that come to mind are Plants vs Zombies 2 and Plague Inc.

PvZ2 has a million in-app purchases that are constantly shoved in your face, and a lot of items that can't be acquired in any other way, but every single thing in the game is winnable without paying a cent and without grinding. I would feel like I was cheating if I were to pay money for something. I would actually prefer for them to make the game -harder-, not easier.

In Plague Inc, after playing the game a few times and enjoying it, I paid a dollar to remove the ads and have the ability to increase the game speed (akin to removing a grind, I guess). But the small amount of extra time wasted not being able to increase the speed really didn't bother me much, the dollar was more of a "here's a buck for a fun game."

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 5 months ago | (#46963257)

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.

Hearthstone (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#46963273)

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" No ads in the game, unless you want to infer the game itself is an ad for other Warcraft titles. I'm definitely less jaded about Freemium after playing this game.

Re:Hearthstone (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 5 months ago | (#46963377)

Translation: "Blizzard gave me a $20 million handjob and it felt good. All is well."

Second translation: As long as someone else pays for it, they'll happily consume it. Otherwise fuck you.

The pain is coming. Sell short.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#46966291)

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 makes it all but impossible to play without forking over cash, the player drops it like a wet turd.

By comparison, I have a handful of freemium games that I've played on and off for literally years. Two things to note about that - First, that the game has lasted for years, when the more abusive pay-to-play games tend to vanish within a few months of release. And second, that the game remains playable despite the majority of players not paying anything.

That right there describes the key to a successful F2P game: All aspects of the game need to function well and not have an unreasonable difficulty level for all players, not just the paying ones (and on the flip side, if you can pay for stuff that makes the game too easy, the paying players will get bored and go away). I would go further and say that games like that also somewhat explain the 0.2% figure as well, in that those players essentially subsidize the entire playerbase for relatively non-game-breaking perks. Most commonly, it gives paying players just enough of an edge to put them in the hall-of-fame/leaderboards/top-players listings, effectively "crediting" them for their support, but not much else.

I have to suspect most of the hate for F2P games in this discussion comes from people who have never played one of the "good" ones. Yes, complete crap exists, and yes, it describes the majority of the F2P market. You have to factor in to your evaluation of the market as a whole the fact that it costs nothing to try them, however.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46967283)

As a long time gamer who barely tolerates DLC, there's no doubt I hate pretty much every free-to-play game out there. Sure there are a couple of exceptions but for the most part they're about getting people addicted or shaking you down for cash every 30 seconds.
But, if I'm not mistaken, isn't this exactly what pirates demanded? That media companies should change their business model or be pirated into bankruptcy? Well congratulations freetards, F2P is the result.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

Tom (822) | about 5 months ago | (#46967535)

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 its pay-once model that's rare in the MMORPG area, or EVE Online which does well with the old and true subscription model.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 5 months ago | (#46963201)

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.

Sucky business model = sucky games (2)

Powercntrl (458442) | about 5 months ago | (#46963515)

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 levels may have actually been authored by a human, but later levels are generally designed to become impossible to beat without buying some power-ups. Plants vs Zombies 2 is a good example of this.

In chance based games (gem/candy/jelly match games), you are basically forced into either buying power-ups to win the level, or grinding away by re-playing the same level over and over again until you finally get lucky. Except...

Many of these games have a lives/rounds system that will only let you play a certain number of times before forcing you to choose between waiting or paying to be able to continue playing. (Candy Crush, Jelly Splash, most Zynga games, Angry Birds Go, etc.)

Some particularly evil games will not even allow you to progress to higher levels unless you spam the game on Facebook or, you guessed it, spend money. (Candy Crush, Jelly Splash, etc.)

The absolute worst aspect of free-to-play, though, is how it almost always directly translates to "pay-to-win". The developers rarely limit the amount of power ups you can purchase or how often they can be used, so the end result is that paying removes absolutely all challenge to the game. How is it fun to play a game where the only thing standing between you and "victory" is how wide you're willing to open your wallet?

Re:Sucky business model = sucky games (1)

Ark42 (522144) | about 5 months ago | (#46964649)

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.

Re:How is 'free to play' constricting? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 months ago | (#46965237)

"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 (5, Insightful)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:Red Herring (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963203)

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?

Re:Red Herring (1)

Nikker (749551) | about 5 months ago | (#46964559)

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.

Meh... (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963233)

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

So fucking wrong. The problem with standalone one time purchase games, like Super Hexagon, is that people pirate (oh, excuuuuuuse me, princess [youtube.com] ; "copyright infringe") the hell out of them.

So, what's a developer to do other than pray to the FSM that some kind players will deign to pay them? Wire the game up to a online service and make the player pay as they go along (a.k.a. f2p). If they have to be a little sociopathic [gamasutra.com] * along the way, well, "the pirates started it".

Re:Meh... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46963269)

Microtransactions make them money, so they bet on them.

I don't see what's any less true about that statement if non-microtransaction games are being pirated.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963539)

My bad; let me rephrase slightly differently, then: "Nobody is stopping you from making the next Super Hexagon", except you are unlikely to make any money unless your game is a good as Super Hexagon and your game is lucky enough to get as good publicity as Super Hexagon so that you get enough payers to turn a profit.

Re:Meh... (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 5 months ago | (#46963559)

Wire the game up to a online service and make the player pay as they go along (a.k.a. f2p).

As you say, "So fucking wrong." That's the quickest way to get an app deleted from my device. I've got a few f2p/IAP games, but they're blocked by the firewall. If they aren't playable (and enjoyable) in that state, they get tossed. I've got more games that I've legitimately paid for than f2p games (and their devs have seen more money from me than f2p devs ever will).

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965089)

As you say, "So fucking wrong." That's the quickest way to get an app deleted from my device.

What you do is so fucking irrelevant to the publishers. You are not visible in their figures, not even the least-sgnificant ones far to the right of the decimal point.

What they care is what people in general do. Not you. You don't matter at all.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963445)

Complaining about F2P and micro transactions is like complaining about systemd. It is just how the world works today.

I, for one welcome... (3, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 months ago | (#46963059)

... 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?

Re:I, for one welcome... (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 5 months ago | (#46966729)

Where I live, we call such customers "investors" :)

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

MindPrison (864299) | about 5 months ago | (#46963079)

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. (3, Interesting)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:It's a money cow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965243)

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.

Nice post, but to make a small note here since I'm not sure this particular point should be read as absolute, I have bought several models of "cheap" Far East tablets that had an "app store" app that was neither Google nor Amazon, and it seemed pretty robust. The market there might be rather distinct from the one you have in mind.

Re:It's a money cow. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965641)

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.

Okay, let's restate it... (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | about 5 months ago | (#46963103)

"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.

whine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963123)

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.

Re:whine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963355)

You confuse gamers with Republicans. The gamers are too busy playing to complain. The Republicans whine about everything. Their lives are miserable so they want to make everyone miserable. Just be happy they're simply trying to ruin a game rather than going on yet another school or mall shooting spree. Too bad their kind always kills other people instead of just themselves. They are so hateful.

Directional control (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46963821)

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 those in use?

Multi user games (2)

eric31415927 (861917) | about 5 months ago | (#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?

Re:Multi user games (2)

brit74 (831798) | about 5 months ago | (#46964319)

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've got lots of interest, a day-job, and lots of free time.) Second, it's hard to find your target audience. A few years back, I had written a strategy-wargame ( http://www.empiresofsteel.com/ [empiresofsteel.com] ) which was inspired in many ways by an old computer game called "Empire" ( http://www.classicempire.com/ [classicempire.com] ). My revenue was nowhere near paying my development costs -- I recouped about 20%.

My publisher told me that strategy games are tough to make money on (unless you're Sid Meier, I assume). They published quite a few strategy games. They had a hard time figuring out a good way to market them that actually had a good ROI. At one point, I tried Google AdWords (because targeted advertising would work, wouldn't it?) I didn't make back the money I spent. My publisher had invested a bunch of money (a lot more than I did) promoting their games with Google AdWords, as well, because they wanted to test the targeted-advertising market. They eventually decided that they couldn't get a net-positive ROI from AdWords.

It's just a hard market out there. I suspect the only way to really make it as an indie developer is to make something super innovative and addictive (and get really lucky on top of it).

Re:Multi user games (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 5 months ago | (#46966747)

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

Re:Multi user games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46967257)

Amazingly enough, I recently discovered a publisher that is making games that are very similar to the old AH classic boardgames that I fondly remember from the 80s: Slitherine games, who you can find at http://www.slitherine.com/games They've been around for quite a while, but don't advertise much; I bumped into them at PAX east where they had a booth, but I don't think I've ever seen any of their games in a gaming store or advertised online.

Heroes of Stalingrad feels similar to Squad Leader (ok, not by AH, but of the same era); the Flashpoint Campaigns series is very much a "little cardboard squares on a hex map" game in the spirit of a lot of the AH games based on WW2 operational level campaigns. Pandora is a basically remake of Alpha Centauri (the Civ-sequel by Firaxis) with more modern tech.

On the plus side: a lot of their games run on mac and linux as well as PC. Their prices are reasonable.

On the minus side: They are a bit unpolished in places. Their instruction manuals needed a copyeditor, the didn't do a great job of tutorial/instructional levels to introduce you to the game, and their graphics were kind of bleh. As a publisher that is publishing games written by several different studios, I would expect the quality and style of games they publish to potentially vary a lot (I've only tried a few, so I haven't found any turkeys yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to find highs and lows).

What did you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963143)

Linux is FREE, Android is FREE, GIMP is FREE, etc etc etc. The race to the bottom for software prices has also made so much software FREE.
The FOSS movement has created the impression that everything should be free, the down side is the 99% of people who do zero coding are also not willing to pay money for something they now believe is free.

The next item to be devalued will the the programmers, if software has to fall in price to sell, then companies will manage their costs (wages) and they will be forced down. Companies that contribute back to the FOSS will be pushing for wages to fall because they are NOT a charity (and if they are the funds will slowly disappear ) and the code from an value perspective has zero worth because anyone can use it for free.

Have a nosey around and see what FOSS projects have died because of lack of funds, or are in the process of doing so.

I have seen people posting "demands" that companies who use FOSS should contribute cash to keep the project running, but why should they it is after all FREE.

So, unless you are a behemoth like Google, Facebook etc etc, you and your code will soon have no value, and those companies only survive because they can scrape a few pennies from each of their millions of visitors via advertising, and even that revenue stream is falling , and as they try and put in more ads to compensate there is more pushback with ad blockers etc etc.

cry more? (1)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 5 months ago | (#46963145)

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

This is not gaming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963159)

This is essentially abusing the small fraction of people who are positively predisposed to gambling, especially when either the game or the purchases themselves involve a significant component of randomness or luck.

I find it terribly unethical.

let freedumb sting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963165)

the fee oxygen thing is ending too? spirits still free? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mjbq6K2ziDQ ner a better time to consider ourselves in relation to one another & our surroundings http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=weather+manipulation+starvation+wmd

It's never been about "what people want". (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 months ago | (#46963191)

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.

An unlikely trio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963207)

"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 "

In other words, the rich, the money-stupid, and those with stolen credit card numbers.

As long as Republicans... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963211)

are too cheap to actually pay for games, we'll continue to have this free for play shit continuously shoved down our throats. They are responsible for this destruction of the game industry. The current wasteland of games is nearly as bad as the North American video game crash of 1983 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_video_game_crash_of_1983) that the Raygun Republicans engineered. They hate games and hate programmers so making us starve really makes their kind happy. They hate us. Because of that, they refuse to actually pay for games. Instead of great games like Doom or Quake, they leave us with garbage like Farmville and Angry Birds. That is 100% their fault. The Republicans made video game revenue drop by almost 97 percent in their 1983 crash. Hopefully they'll never attain those destructive levels again, but they're trying.

Re:As long as Republicans... (2)

greenwow (3635575) | about 5 months ago | (#46963321)

I lost two friends in that Republican-created crash. I will never forgive xians for doing that. One had a six month-old baby girl when he killed himself. That girl is thirty now, and I'm proud to say she is making a difference with the work she is doing with her occupy group. They are the one hope we have in this new attack on gaming and gamers. So far, they are the only group standing-up to them. We had hope Obama would, but he so far, hasn't found his backbone.

Re:As long as Republicans... (1)

Yunzil (181064) | about 5 months ago | (#46963437)

Man, I know Reagan was terrible, but I wasn't aware he was responsible for Atari Pac-Man and E.T.

Re:As long as Republicans... (1)

greenwow (3635575) | about 5 months ago | (#46963473)

Wow, you Republicans are disgusting. Trying to give him credit for the greatest game of all time. No, he used his power to try to kill the entire industry. As Wikipedia con confirm, he killed 97% of the market. We are in the middle of yet another attack from the Republicans. They want us to starve.

Publishers? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46963255)

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 aren't non-existent in the mobile business. But they tend to crank out nothing but shit (King) or crank out nothing but shit slowly (EA).

Directional control (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46963873)

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.

Reminds me of the Adult online market (1)

PktLoss (647983) | about 5 months ago | (#46963289)

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 get that user to spend money is closing, so any opportunity is worth looking into. You make less money sending them to your competitors, anything > 0.

 

all about numbers (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 5 months ago | (#46963303)

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

Gaming is Dead (2)

The Cat (19816) | about 5 months ago | (#46963333)

The concept of "we want everything for free" sure as hell didn't originate with mobile games.

When the industry finally implodes (and the writing is on the wall) the "customers" will have only themselves to blame.

It's a phone... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#46963729)

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 enough that people will pay for it. But it will be a long wait.

Screen size (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46964247)

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.

Re:Screen size (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46965749)

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.

Re:Screen size (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46966059)

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.

Re:It's a phone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46964775)

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.

Gotta disagree with you there. I play Bejeweled Diamond Mine on my iPhone and I prefer that form over any other. And yes, BDM is a pretty decent game.

Sounds good. (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#46963743)

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.

Amusing story. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Not playing games anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46963789)

I used to buy a game/app at least once every month. But I hardly ever do that now. I hate f2p games.

90% of apps are crap (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about 5 months ago | (#46964435)

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.

These games will eventually kill themselves (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46964509)

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 another game, and by the time he's done, the first one is ready again. It's probably some kind of a coping strategy...

The world only so many games (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 5 months ago | (#46964529)

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.

Use demos (1)

Clsid (564627) | about 5 months ago | (#46964583)

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.

Re:Use demos (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 5 months ago | (#46967539)

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?

B. S. simple games killed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46964625)

SpeedX 3D, Air Control, My Paper Plane 2, and a handful of motorbike & car race games. These are older phone games that were well done, and showed what could be done on Android. Then games went the kiddie route to make easy money from kids who didn't realize that coins cost their parents real money. Someone needs to make up a list of just the quality games out there on Android, I'd pay for that.

Percentages mean nothing (1)

houghi (78078) | about 5 months ago | (#46965075)

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 interested if the people that DID react did also buy. Because that was who he was targeting.

So 0.2% might sound like not a lot, unless we have some real numbers, there is no idea how good or bad this is. You also need to compare it to the original investment in money. This over many or all games. Because some games will have taken an afternoon to put together and make a shitload while others might have taken years and make a loss.

Not to mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46965383)

The biggest thing constricting free-to-play games is that most of them aren't actually any fun. I'm not even limiting it to the crappy zinga type games that are pure skinner boxes, but even the few mobile RPGs are typically just not very good in the first place.

It would also help if they didn't have absolutely ridiculous prices for their purchases. It's sort of funny to look at these simple little mobile game and do some ballpark calculations of how much money they expect you to spend to get a remotely even experience in them.

I don't see the confusion- Too much entertainment (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#46965485)

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.

and your point is...? (1)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | about 5 months ago | (#46966133)

"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.

maybe free is overpriced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46966401)

the fact that most of these games are played once or for a few hours seems like evidence that they suck.

"Mobile gaming" is free because, (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 5 months ago | (#46966733)

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.

Most downloads are just to try (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 5 months ago | (#46967043)

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 pay for.

As to the in-app purchases, I'm not interested in that wallet sucking method of paying. If I like the trial version of the game then I will register it and pay for it. If it is a game that requires little in-app purchases to play, then I delete the game and find another that is a simple buy and play type purchase.

scams (1)

Tom (822) | about 5 months ago | (#46967435)

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 variations. And I'm pretty sure the 80/20 rule applies - 80,000 of those games are probably clones or versions of the same 20 basic game concepts.

But it's all the result of copyright infringement and downloading stuff. When developers can't live from sales, they need to find another way to earn money. The three ways that work are a) advertisement, b) subscriptions (early MMORPGs) and c) F2P.

Of these, F2P works best because it's a scam, one name bait-and-switch. Everyone knows that "free" doesn't really mean free, and that 90% of the game are designed intentionally as incentives to spend money. And more, often much more, than you would've paid for a comparable box-sale. It's a scam, designed to fight illegal downloads. Difficult to say which side one should be on.

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