I read a piece today about a mobile developer trying to make his game less about F2P consumable purchases — like energy — and more about one-time purchases. Sounded like the kind of thing I might be able to write an article about, I thought.
I grew a little less optimistic the further I got through the article. The CEO of Glitchsoft, Andrew Fisher, talked about how he sees the industry veering away from free-to-play with loads of microtransactions and more toward free-to-play with paid expansions:
“Glitchsoft’s own Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past game launched earlier this year as a premium game with no in-app purchases, but an update next spring will see the core game made available for free, with additional expansion packs available for fans who want to pay to play through other storylines from the comic series.”
It doesn’t sound like Fisher plans to add microtransactions to the core game, so it’ll be more like his company’s giving away the base game for free and only charging for the expansion content. It’s a little like F2P meets DLC.
The article is still fresh, as of right now, with only two comments. And those comments pretty much strike at the heart of the free-to-play vs. pay-to-play debate:
To put it simply: “Man, F2P can be annoying, but man, it really sells!” Or at the very least, “F2P is annoying, but people pay for it anyway.”
It’s worth noting, too, that while both respondents are in the game industry, the first, “F2P is annoying,” comment comes from a Senior Programmer from Epic Games, while the second, “F2P sells,” comment comes from the CEO of Kakouri Mobile Entertainment. In other words, I’d guess the first commenter is a gamer first and businessperson second, while the second commenter might be the reverse.
Both have their place. You can’t make a company of just “gamers” without any executive oversight, but you also can’t have a company full of executives with no idea of what makes a game “fun.”
The other thing you might take from it? That core gamers like Mr. Martin — and probably like you and me — who don’t like the annoyance factor of F2P make up a tiny percentage of the number of people who actually consume those games and don’t think twice about forking over an extra $5 for another 25 energy or a cool hat. People like Martin can debate or rage all they want on forums and comment sections, but they’re probably greatly outnumbered by the masses who never visit those kinds of places and download F2P mobile games — and spend appropriately — by the millions. I mean, is there a subreddit devoted to that Kim Kardashian game? (If there is, please don’t tell me. Please. I’m begging you.)
Those silent millions are the ones that Kim Soares, as the CEO of a company, tries to appeal to, and it’s hard to blame her. Both commenters are espousing the virtues of what’s important to them — just like we all do whenever we debate the virtues of one payment model against another.