Swrve report: 0.15% of freemium gamers account for 50% of all in-app purchases

Swrve report: 0.15% of freemium gamers account for 50% of all in-app purchasesLove 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.

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2 comments

satchef1  Mar. 2, 2014 at 10:46

I disagree. With the exception of Plants vs Zombies 2, Real Racing 3 and no doubt a smattering of other titles, the smartphone free-to-play market sucks, but it doesn't have to be this way. Look at the PC. Crossfire, League of Legends, World of Tanks, DOTA 2, Team Fortress 2 are all raking it in. They all offer free gaming experiences with the option of purchasing extra content, in game currency or premium accounts for those who are happy to pay up for more content. These games show off the future of freemium, and it's a model I hope to see a lot more games using. I get to play a decent game for free, while someone more committed and with considerably more spare cash drops big bucks on extra content, helping to make the game profitable for its creators.

JanSt / MOD  Mar. 3, 2014 at 13:55

I hate it. Not only games - a lot of other apps that used to be free or used to cost a buck or 2, now come "free"® .
Especially with photo editing apps. You install it, thinking you know it and you what it does. Then you try to use it on the go, and bam - you suddenly need to download another 50MB and pay twice of what it used to cost.

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