Love it or hate it (seriously, I doubt anyone really loves it), the freemium model is here to stay: download a game for free, and find yourself relentlessly cajoled into paying for in-app purchases. Meh.
We’ve often mused that a small spend-happy minority is most likely funding the mobile gaming habits of the majority, but we hadn’t realised just how extreme the statistics are.
The stats in question are provided by Swrve, and kindly relayed by bearded man Eric Johnson, of re/code fame.
The first key takeaway is that a tiny 0.15% of free-to-play gamers account for a whopping 50% of all in-app purchases. Good gawd. Imagine going out for dinner with 10,000 people, and 15 of those foot half the entire bill.
The second point of note is that only 1.5% of gamers in the Swrve study spent any money at all. Now imagine going out for dinner with 1,000 people, and 985 of those pay nothing. Delicious.
One could infer from those stats that it’s not necessary to pay to enjoy a freemium game, though I’d argue that a fair number of people will inevitably have bailed on such games when they've become too aggressive in their panhandling. Heck, I know I have. People who pay will almost certainly play longer.
Popular freemium tactics include charging to negate waiting times for lives or upgrades, charging for additional levels, and charging for characters that would otherwise necessitate months’ of play.
I’d certainly argue that the best games of the past couple of years haven’t been freemium titles. Maybe I’m generalising a little, but freemium developers seem more interested in profit than churning out groundbreaking titles (here's looking at you, King.com). Maybe I’ll back up my wild claims with some sort of feature. Interesting… Working title: The best games in life aren't free.