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.

    It is strange that there is this pool of videogames that are free, and yet they make so much money. Players spend money on the choice they made freely. If it's something they enjoy, then they are willing to spend money on advancing their enjoyment.

    Does the freemium model suck? Oh Yeah. The times have changed and with it, the industry has too.

    Btw, I played your game. You need to realize that the app store is vast and people look for exceptional art work first. Your heart was definitely there with the game, but the art work is not. It's not your fault though, creating good art work is difficult, and hiring artists is expensive.

  • When it comes down to it it's all about how you adapt to the situation, just like any business (unless it's regulated) you have to give people a reason to play your game and a reason to talk about it, those are the most important things you can provide your audience. It doesn't really matter how much time and money you put into a game if you can't convince people that your game is what they want, this can be achieved by pushing genres, innovate, perfect, utilize an underserved genre or having a great style/tone because those are marketable things. You have to always stay on top to survive in the "free market". If you make a thing that most people either don't have a reason to be excited about or if they can get something equal or better somewhere else, you're out.

    And this is not just the games industry, music, film and books are in the same situation, anyone can pick up and guitar and a cheap mic and play music or make videos/short-films on youtube, write a novel and put it up onto Amazon. If something is worth paying for, people will pay, the race to the bottom mostly apply to games that are mediocre or similar to other games where the price matter more than the product, it's probably the only thing that matters because why pay when you can get something similar that's better and free/cheaper?, if you have a solid game that's good, on-top and marketable you can definitally charge a decent amount of money for it. Ruskul made a good point about this, look at the developers that put not just their soul and heart into it but they are all very competent designers and they all have distinct, marketable visuals and style/tone.

    That said, "make it good and they will come" is not really true either even though that's the impression you might get, I think that statement is vague and not particularly applicable because what is good differs and sometimes having a mediocre game that is amazingly marketable will break through and sometimes it's the other way around but the point is don't settle for mediocrity, strive for marketability and like I said above give people a reason to play and talk.

    That's my experience from reading and talking to people about these things so take what I said with a grain of salt.

    I saw this image on twitter the other day, thought it'd lighten up the mood a little as I found it pretty funny:

  • Ruskul

    The list doesn't prove me wrong. For each of them I could post a dozen of nameless shiny hulls. On the mobile market, if you want to make a living, you have to hop on the freemium bus. And that is hard for small or single developer groups. And even harder, if you tend to another philosophy.

    Freemium has already influenced the whole games industry, not just the mobile market. Don't pretend you've never seen AAA pc titles with IAP or product placement.

    Really, the focus has changed. From "making something you are proud of" to "making something that generates money". Not true? How many flappy bird copies came out, how many match 3 games do you see, how many FarmVille clones are out there? Etc.

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  • Ruskul

    x "making something you are proud of" to "making something that generates money".

    It was always like that, especially since free capitalism. However in the past people were better informed and educated in what is good and what isn't,and most of all, they were very active in going out and meeting with the "product". Nowadays it's whatever goes, and people I'd call connoisseurs are being attack and called snobs by uneducated with no developed taste, who are unfortunately in majority. And it looks to me, that when there is no proper understanding of what and why is good, and instead everything is good if someone says so, brought that overwhelming flood of mediocrity in all forms of art. Inspired art needs time to develop. And nowadays, especially due to technology,we have even less time to do stuff then before, since a lot of influential people thinks of machines as magic boxes that do everything by themselves and human is only there to click buttons. Less is more.

  • 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.

    This man speaks truth about the Android market... It's the same exact reason why I long ago gave up publishing personal Android games to reskin games and sell them on sites like Flippa, Chupamobile and CodeCanyon. I make more money doing that instead of waiting for 100 downloads to get like 0.02 cents in a day...

    [quote:1nkjcaby]Really, the focus has changed. From "making something you are proud of" to "making something that generates money". Not true? How many flappy bird copies came out, how many match 3 games do you see, how many FarmVille clones are out there? Etc.

    This is sad but it's true. Everyone trying to do what thinks they can make a living off from.

  • Another reason why I hate Android:

    Also all the crap devices that have so many weird hardware configs that can't run your app well? "1 Star cos it crashes".

  • iOS, here I come after learning that whole export process... LOL.

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