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Freemium Must Die

// January 29th, 2012 // By Archon // First Game, Game Dev, iDevBlogADay

OK, now that I’ve got your attention… I’ll explain.  Freemium should be viewed for what it is, a tactic.  As such, it cannot become the de facto standard by which our gaming market exists.

A tactic can only be successful when it is properly deployed.  Which means that the general (you) must understand his troops (app) as well as his target (paying players).  A Greek phalanx, naval raking fire, and panzer bliztkrieg are all fine examples of successful tactics that have been employed.  Note also that in these examples, each tactic is impossible to deploy by the other example tactic.  In other words, just because Capcom could make money hand over fist with the Smurfs, does not mean that your game can leverage the same “troop” assets to achieve your goal.

Don’t be so quick to jump on the freemium bandwagon just because others have had success with it.  A smart general would never even consider using a tactic that his troops (app) could not properly execute.  Sure, you could use your archers to melee attack mounted cavalry, but that’s just stupid.

Really think it over, should you be giving your game away?  If you do give it away, are you hobbling it by making it an incomplete experience?  No one (or rarely) does someone want to play a game where they feel like they need to spend more money to really enjoy the experience.  If you think your game is worth something, charge for it.  If you make a good game, people will buy it.

Owner’s of Apple devices have shown that they are willing to pay for quality.  It’s your job to give it to them, not give it away to them.  That is unless you really know your troops & target, and it’s the best way to achieve your goal.  Not just because those guys did it.

9 Responses to “Freemium Must Die”

  1. Kyle Newsome says:

    Sounds like what you are saying isn’t “Freemium must die” so much as “Freemium is a strategy not an industry wide revolution”. In short, I would agree. I’m a huge believer that price is a big part of strategy and not this toy for us to play with.

    • Dane says:

      yeah great point kyle. price is strategy, which is why this is a great post. people have very strong attachments to the belief that the more something costs the better it is. just convincing them out the gate that it’s worth the price of admission is the difficult part.

  2. Archon says:

    Exactly! I just had to get a good hook to garner some attention. Too many devs are hurting their game, their company, and the industry by putting out crippled apps that just aren’t fun to play.

  3. Phuong Vo says:

    What about Tiny Tower and Temple Run. What are your thoughts on those games?

  4. Archon says:

    I have played both on my devices, and they are great games. The reviews, awards, and sheer number of downloads shows that. They are great companies too, I’m a big fan of Niblebit and Imangi. Both have shown innovation, and are to be admired. As far as them being freemium, I’m no insider, so I have no idea how successful that’s been in making them money. If it’s working for them though, great.

  5. Matt says:

    Hi, I have to disagree with you. Freemium is the only way right now to make money unless you’re a big company or get very very lucky. I’ve seen many games better than Angry Birds do badly in sales. Unfortunately, great innovation doesn’t translate directly into sales. For our game, SpinGem, we sold only 40-odd until we went free and then we had 500+ obtain our game within a week. If we had an in-app purchase in that particular game we would have stood more of a chance making more money. If people who would like our game are not getting it because of the price tag then we’re in a bad position.

  6. I completely agree, from a user perspective. I won’t even download a freemium game anymore. It’s just a bad experience. Put the user first, always.

  7. Leonardo Vergani says:

    Tiny Tower, Temple Run and some other games are great exemples of how a studio can implement a freemium model without hurting the experience and still make every user happy!

    @Archon, Temple Run is on the Top Grossing for days, so they are doing very well in revenue.

    I think the best is to cluster: indie studios using freemium X big studios using freemium.

    Glu Mobile, Gameloft and Zynga uses a freemium strategy that will squeeze every dollar of every user! Smaller studios are more friendly, therefore, more successful. :)

  8. Phuong Vo says:

    I would like to share my experience also.

    My game, Are You Quick Enough?, was 99 cents when original launched and I sold a couple of thousands in half a year. Then I switched it to free with inapp purchases and got 2 million downloads and my revenue went up tremendously in 1 month. The key was more people was able to try the game since it was free and the people who liked the game bough extra content.

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