Friday, March 23, 2012

Free vs Freemium vs Premium

Do you enjoy some mobile gaming from time to time?  Do you purchase your games, or are you the type that goes for the free titles.  What do you think about in app purchases for games?  Well those are the big questions in mobile gaming these days.  You get a great free gaming experience that offers in app purchases to give you an edge.  There are free titles that are literally just that, completely free.  What about those titles you actually spend money on?  Should those have in app purchases?

While checking my Google+ stream, I saw a snarky comment by Gameloft about being "tired of birds", obviously referencing the much awaited release of Angry Birds Space.  Gameloft is obviously trying to turn some attention to their products.  Don't get me wrong, they have some amazing titles!  The Modern Combat franchise is comparible to that of any modern console title being released.  Same with a large majority of their A titles.  Even their B titles are worth a play.

What bugs most players though is you spend up to US$6.99 per A title.  With that, you don't expect to have to do any in game purchases to get what you want.  That is something that is bugging many a player alike, including this guy!

Titles from Glu Mobile are normally free.  However, to get an edge, such as more gold/gems, you can purchase more within the game.  However, you do not need to make those purchases to fully enjoy the game, as you constantly earn by logging into the game on a daily basis.  Sure, it takes forever to earn enough gems to get cool stuff, but it still is free.

I am one that doesn't mind a game that is in game purchases involved, just as long as the purchases are not required for me to continue enjoying the game.  I have honestly yet to run into a title that has done just that.

How about the premium titles from Gameloft that require the in game purchases?  Modern Combat 3 is one such title.  Another one that SHOULD NEVER have in game purchases involved is Order & Chaos.  Why is that you ask?  Not only does the title run you US$6.99, but also up to US$3.00 for a 6 month membership.  If it would have been a situation of paying for the game, and then online play is completely free, then I could certainly see in game purchases.  However, I am hit with a trifecta of nickle and diming here.  I realize that the servers are not cheap.  However, if that is the case, then take away the reduced 6 month membership fee and leave the overall price at .99 a month.  Even though that adds up to nearly $6 after 6 months, that is still worth it if the in game purchasing is discontinued.

Methods such as these tell the gamer that the company is looking for a quick buck.  This is not a message you want to give them.  Yes, these titles are NOT cheap to develop, but you can't squeeze every penny from your fanbase.  It will ultimately hurt the bottom dollar of your investment.

All in all, my opinion is you do one of the following...

  1. Free game = completely free experience with no in game purchases, however ad support is optional
  2. Freemium game = Game is free to download and enjoy, but to get "the edge" you offer in game purchases
  3. Premium game = You pay for the game.  No ads, no in game purchases unless to give the player an edge, but is NOT required to continue the overall enjoyment of the game.
  4. The ONLY exception of sorts is the Premium Subscription Game = You buy the game, or it is downloaded for free, but you have a monthly subscription (MMORPG's) in order to play it.  There should not be any in game purchases to gain any edges, as you should have to earn them based on leveling up.

So how do you feel about this trend?  Leave your comments below.

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