The "freemium" games model has ruined the industry.

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  • For those of us who would like to make an honest living selling the games that we've worked so hard on, the "freemium" game model has destroyed the game economy. Runaway deflation means that it seems that very few are paying for games outright anymore. Now the fees are hidden. Either the player has to be subjected to a stream of ads or is nickel and dimed to death to get upgrades that would have been included in a game of yesteryear. Of course there is no one to blame but the game designers - us. I saw the same thing happen to the book self-publishing industry. To get high ratings, people started selling their books for the lowest price possible, even going so far as to give them away for nothing. It's a sad state of affairs for those of us who have families to support and who would like to be able to make a living doing something we love. Is several hours of entertainment worth a couple of bucks? I think so. Think about movie prices - $10 bucks for 2 hours (or less) of entertainment. I'm offering several hours of entertainment for 99 cents. I remember when all video games came with premium price tags but now consumers are spoiled and don't want to pay anything for their fun. Can you blame them? I guess I'm unusual in that I still don't mind paying for video games. I PREFER not having ads shoved down my throat while I'm trying to relax and I don't want to pay for upgrades that should be an intrinsic part of the game. End rant.

  • There are still "premium" games that cost > $40 USD but I think the phenomenon of today is that SOO many people are playing games opposed to just 10-15 years ago.

    I don't mind, I think the more people playing games the better... let people find out how much a lot of freemium content is empty and unfulfilling. Some models I think are okay... but a lot are completely offensive to me as a gamer (especially when you sit down and try to play them).

    I still feel the "build-a-great-game-and-it-will-do-well" mindset is the way to go. Don't worry about everyone else... you can't. Just do your thing.

  • What if app/game makers has ruined the industry?

    In the past you need more efforts but your game had 100 competitors.

    Now you can make simple game in 1 week but your game has i.e. 100.000 competitors.

    Anyway I prefer to pay 50$ for 1 serious game (like i.e. Witcher 3) than play 50 x 0.99$ craps.

  • Non curated stores like Android is a death trap for amateur developers trying to make a break.

    It's swamped, there's too many games. There's no proper "New Game of X Genre" list at all. Only top new lists which require your game to compete with others for downloads, ratings & reviews to be on the list. This means its a race to "who can market better" their newly released mobile game. The small developer loses out because we don't have the budget to compete.

    Without being on any list that gamers can easily find, your game is as good as dead on arrival.

    Welcome to Android.

    On iOS, at least you are on lists that everyone can find. There's proper new games/apps list, with its own categories or genres. Want to find new strategy game releases? Done deal, its there, sorted by release date. Boom. Instant eyes on your game. The rest, it's up to whether your game is any good to convince people to give it a go. But you can't say it wasn't discovered or people didn't see it.

    Same for Steam. Newly released games are guaranteed 1,000,000 impressions on the front page. Steam also has categories of genres and tags that is sorted by release date top to bottom. As a small time indie, when you release on Steam and it doesn't do well, you cannot blame anyone but yourself, regardless if you have a marketing budget or not. Why? Because millions of gamers have seen your game. If you fail, it's because they deem it not worth their time and money.

    So if you want to make games to earn money, stop wasting your time and effort making games for Android (Android *only* = no way, just quit and save yourself all the eventual disappointment), particularly when there's just so damn many out there already that are similar to it or even better that are free.

    Note: This is from my own experience, it may not apply to everyone. But IF you want to release for Android a "premium" game, make it free with a single IAP to unlock all content once (restorable), this way, it's like a demo, if players like they buy the rest.

  • Any free destroys economy. Free is deceptive as nothing is free. And most of all, any "free" costs you a work in the future.

  • You could also argue mobile has ruined the industry. You could also argue quick, mediocre cash-grab shovelware garbage app developers put out by boatloads has ruined the industry. You could blame money hungry devs, Apple for pricing, Nintendo for starting the casual boom, market oversaturation or people in general eating it all up and expecting everything for free, with zero regard to if you can pay your electric bill or not. Lots of things you could be pointing the finger at, but what good does that do? Nothing we can do about it but adapt to the situation, stay on top of new developments and make best possible games and hopefully people will play them. I'm sure things will even out and new opportunities and business models will arise.

  • True.

  • The evolution of the internet also has a great impact on the situation. Having flatrates for easy access 24/7 also means, people are looking throughout the web for entertainment. I stopped dreaming about that one great game I would create 2 years ago. I was looking at Kongragate and saw "games" that I would be ashamed of as the author. Many of them were pretty much like a four year old kid's graphics and gameplay-idea. It was then that I realized that quality doesn't play a big role anymore. It is just the fun for a few minutes that is of interest.

    Game creation software does play a role in this. And the web being a platform for ads and not much more. Such games today aren't the child of a love affair, aren't created with passion. They are just the shiny hull for making money through ads.

    You can swim with the wave or sink. I decided to lay down on an island, enjoying the sun.

  • Nothing has ruined the industry. The industry is thriving. The fact is, is that you have to make something worth peoples time and money. Nobody wants to have to pay for something that probably sucks when they can get all the suckage they want for free. I'm not saying your game sucks, I'm just assuming that it has a greater chance of sucking than not because 1.) its on a phone. 2.) most phone games suck outright because they are on a phone. The cards are stacked against you.

    I can count a lot of highly successful indie devs that put their heart and soul into their games for years before they got a penny. The market really isn't any different now than 20 years ago. If anything its better. More people play. Sure there are more games, but marketing has always been important. The mobile market is different because honestly it is different. If you want to make a game and get paid for it. 1.) make a good game. 2.) convince people its worth their time and money. 3.) don't make it for the crappy mobile industry. Mobile was cool only when it was a gameboy. In the end, you still take a risk. Its called business. Most game makers forget that. They get all caught up in the idea that they are going to make a game and everyone is going to play it like it was God's gift to mankind. Have you done any market research? What are people playing? Are there any openings? What is the competition like? Who is going to pay for your game? How can you reach your target audience?

    Making games is also easier now than ever before. I mean I'm assuming you are using construct since you are on this forum. Shoot, I get paid to teach 5th graders how to make games. Are they making games that shouldn't be free? of course not, but the fact is is that everyone and their mother can make games now. You have to be better than all the rest.

    I must finish with, I do hate free to play games. I hate adds, and I hate having to spend more than I otherwise would to play a game when its all done and said. I am happy to pay upfront for a game I think I want. But I'm also not the average fiscally immature moron that inhabits most western countries. I can see what free to play games do and I don't like it. I hate it. But honestly playing candy crushers doesn't make you a gamer, it makes you a consumer of mobile media. There is a difference. And that also means if you want one audience and not the other you have to design your games accordingly.

  • tulamide -

    Fez, meatboy, shovel knight, dustforce, aquaria, terraria, broforce, limbo, starbound, copy girl, marty's island, axiom verge.

    These are not shining hulls devoid of passion. These are the results of passion. I only mention indie titles because they are an attainable goal for an individual.

    The mobile game industry is different than the gamers game industry. Consoles and PC games are as good as they have ever been. The indie game revolution made it even better. I feel sorry for anyone who traded their gameboy for an iphone and thought that was the future of gaming. Mobile gaming is simply media consumption motivated by boredom and and quick fix. Don't make phone games and you don't have to worry about it.

  • Freemium is toxic to me, I now totally refuse to play freemium crap.

    I'd rather pay £1, £5, £10, £20+ and "own" the game, rather than download it free and pay forever for iap's and consumable crap. I just totally avoid anything thats freemium or f2p.

    I have to also say that wading through the app store to find a good game is a nightmare right now, you search for any type of game and instantly you've 30 pages of freemium junk to wade through before you find anything good.

    Apple should add a filter to filter out free games from a search.

    I much preferred ios gaming 2-3 years back, when games came in two versions. The full game and a "light" demo. you could download the light version free and play for a little while and see if you'd like to buy the full game. that was ideal to me. I could try out loads of games and buy the ones I really liked.

    Now the app store is ruined by junk like candy crush, clash of clans etc. pure dross

  • Ruskul

    I fully agree and feel the same way. It was way harder before self-publishing became possible.


    There's still premium games for you. The masses want free, so there's games to cater to that.

    We as small time developers have to understand and target a niche. If you want to make a paid game, you have to target niches. Mainstream masses will never support a paid game on mobiles.

    This is why I make very niche games, I target a specific audience that appreciates these types of games, these folks are more willing to pay for them upfront as well, they shy away from freemium. I'll see if this approach works with the next launch.. but I fully intend to finally upgrade to the C2 business license.

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  • - agreed. The fact that only top ranking "new" games appear on play doesn't give those of us with less marketing resources a chance at all.

  • Ruskul - I can't agree that mobile is a shitty platform. We're talking about everything from phones to tablets. I've played some AWESOME mobile games. When I first got an android 3 years ago, most games still cost something upfront. It was an honest trade. Now all of the freemium crap has swept through like the plague and the market is trashed. Of course people often pay huge sums on "free" games and I guess that's a strategy, I just personally prefer a more honest, upfront trade. I'm not saying I have any control over the game industry or what consumers or producers do. Just stating my .01.

  • - agreed. The fact that only top ranking "new" games appear on play doesn't give those of us with less marketing resources a chance at all.

    And this is why I don't bother making Android games anymore. It's a complete waste of time unless you have a big marketing budget to throw at it. Nobody is going to find your game at all naturally.

    On iOS, you're on the new list for about 5 days, starting from the top so everyone who is into that genre (strategy, RPG, action etc) will see your game, regardless of marketing (it helps for sure) or not.

    Also making a paid game on Android is asking to fail. I noticed even Disney paid games recently have so few reviews/ratings, you can imagine how small a % of Android gamers are willing to pay for a game..

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