comment_box_33-1It wasn't really planned, but our "What Do You Think?" features have become a regular weekly thing, and it's been fantastic to see everyone's responses to the questions we've posed so far. As with our previous installments, this week's What Do You Think? arose just through a topic that we were discussing behind the scenes here at TouchArcade Towers, and now we'd like to find out what our community thinks.

There's no question that free-to-play is all the rage on mobile nowadays, and there's no question that a seemingly large pool of gamers absolutely despise that pay model, or simply the inclusion of in-app purchases in any form. However, even a cursory glance at the top grossing chart in the App Store reveals that people are spending big time money on free-to-play games, and they seem to be perfectly happy doing so.

I go back and forth with my feelings on free-to-play. Maybe being a part of "the industry" has given me a greater insight into just how damn tough it is to make an iOS game and still be able to keep the lights on, as opposed to your average person or even your average gamer who does pay more attention to how the video game industry works. It's brutal, you guys. You really can't blame a developer for going the route that gives them the best chance to make money in any way possible if it's a matter of staying in business or not.

screen1136x1136However, I've seen the free-to-play model abused too, and ruin otherwise perfectly good games. There are all sorts of psychological tricks you can play on people in order to get them to open their wallets, and there are companies out there who specialize in finding out just what those tricks are and then exploiting them.

We've been discussing Candy Crush Saga [Free] a lot lately, as it makes money hand over fist and seemingly everyone from senior citizens to children are out there playing this game like crazy. To regular lifelong gamers like myself and Eli, it just looks like your average match-3 game that's been done to death for over a decade now, but stuffed with IAP, timers, and pretty much all the stuff about freemium games that tends to make us groan. So what is it that makes people go so gaga over Candy Crush?

It's interesting actually, because once you dig into Candy Crush–and I mean really dig in, past the first 40 or 50 levels at least–it opens up considerably and is an incredibly deep and strategic matching game. To regular gamers, those first sets of levels might as well just have a big "WIN" button they're so easy, and then you run right into this huge difficulty spike that, to us, feels like the point in the game where the developers have decided to turn the screws and nudge you towards the in-game store.

To a casual gamer though, those first sets of levels are just secretly and subtly teaching the mechanics of the game to someone who probably hasn't played a million matching games already. It's like one really big, long, gentle tutorial. As a result, when those casual players get to that later point in the game where difficulty ramps up and strategy gets deeper, they are likely equipped to take on the increased challenge that they probably couldn't have dealt with at an earlier point in the game.

screen1136x1136-1From there, maybe your non-gaming mom who has dumped hours upon hours into something like Candy Crush might go in search of a new challenge, and be turned on to more gaming in general.

There's a very big difference between "gamers" and "people who play games." Gamers grew up with just buying a game and getting the whole shebang upfront, save for things like expansion packs and additional content post-release. This whole free-to-play thing is new to people like us, and new things can be scary. I've played games for 30 years a certain way and enjoyed it immensely, why should the way I buy and play games have to change?

But that means the things that scare us might not be so scary, or even noticeable, to casual gamers who enjoy playing games on their mobile devices. Sure, I hate hitting a timer wall and being told I can't play more unless I wait it out or pony up some dough. Someone who leads a busy life and just fills the gaps with some Candy Crush throughout the day–granted for many, many times a day and for many days–won't be as affected having to wait 10 or 15 minutes to "regenerate" or what have you. They're not used to, or even in a position to, sit down and play a game straight for hours at a time. So that occasional wait isn't a big deal. Often these same casual gamers have disposable income where flipping a few dollars every once in a while towards a game that they enjoy and have dumped considerable time into isn't an issue either.

So, the question I'm getting to with all this is, are you willing to put up with free-to-play shenanigans if it means that more people will be attracted to gaming in general, hopefully making it grow even faster and further than it has already? Or are you content with gaming being somewhat inaccessible except for those who grew up gaming in the first place or take the time to fully understand and obtain the skills necessary to enjoy gaming on a "hardcore" level?

Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to give our TouchArcade Show podcast a listen tomorrow as we discuss this very issue at length.

  • SickSilvo

    It's a trap!

    • C. Stubb

      Like the Lotus Eaters though, most people don't mind it.

    • Eseres

      Its okey with some free to play games, but don't base the market on it.
      Gamers want a great game that takes some time to complete.
      Free to play games tend to be cheap runners or other energy based games that only asks for more money.
      Give us quality games for an acceptable amount of money, and we'll love the devs!

    • 61050


  • ptdshiznit818

    This is probably gonna sound bad but I can't see freemium and free2play games as anything but scams. I just can't see an upside to them.

    • shadax

      And this article's argument is "but more people who don't like games, will kinda like games! The only expense is a substantial loss of depth in every game!!"

      No. I'm being dramatic.

  • ODMay

    It's free and they are (most likely) new to it.


    You bring up an excellent point that I have found myself thinking about recently as well. Despite being young, I consider myself a "gamer", having grown up on handheld devices such as the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS, not even owning a console until the age of nine or ten. My sister, however, has only ever played on my mom's iPad, and is a very casual gamer who tends to enjoy freemium experiences such as Candy Crush. I am not so opposed to freemium gaming as many others, because I remember times when I only picked up my iPad to play games a couple times a day. Different games fit different lifestyles. If you want to pick up and play a game all the way through, you're not going to like something like Candy Crush Saga. But if you only have five minutes every now and then, I say go for it!

    • captain hugs

      "Not even owning a console till 9 or 10"
      I don't mean to sound rude, but this comment makes you seem a little out of touch with reality.

      • futuresgreen

        I think that was his point. He says he is a gamer despite not having a console until he was 9 or 10 which in his view is against the norm

  • SumoSplash

    "So, the question I'm getting to with all this is, are you willing to put up with free-to-play shenanigans if it means that more people will be attracted to gaming in general, hopefully making it grow even faster and further than it has already?"


    • macatron

      I second that! I think gaming should be left the way it's always been. You pay up front for the FULL game, and can purchase expansions later if you see the need for it. It seems like these F2P games all stemmed from those crappy Facebook flash ones (i.e. FarmVille). I never got into that, or any others like it. Maybe it's because I grew up with DOS based games, or maybe it's because I'm a die hard gamer. Either way I'd like to see F2P games go away, or at least become A LOT less prevalent.

      • LOLCAT

        Unfortunately for you or me, I don't think that's going to happen. What I don't understand is why you can't just ignore them. Why should you care if there's F2P on the App Store If devs continue to give us gamers what we want? Some people like the kinds of games, and the App Store has to cater to all audiences. If you don't like freemium, don't play it. Let others have their fun.

      • macatron

        Oh, I totally agree with you. However, with big companies, like EA, converting almost all of their major IPs over to F2P, I think a good portion of gamers (myself included) are worried that this metric will completely take over if left unchecked. I'd really love to play Real Racing 2, but I refuse to be told when and how long I can play a freakin' game. It's just ludicrous.

      • LOLCAT

        That's true. I hate it when good games are ruined by IAP.

      • bilboad

        I see your point, and I generally have a "live and let live" attitude. The problem I have is I'm worried that even the type of games I like will all convert over to freemium. I've already seen that start to happen. For example RR3 makes me a lot more sad than something like Candy Crush, since I love racing games, the more realistic the better, and if they removed all the timers and other freemium stuff and made it a premium game like RR1 and RR2, then RR3 would easily be one of the best racing games on iOS. Similarly with the Dungeon Hunter series. I love the first 2 games in that series, and Dungeon Hunter 4 would be a totally awesome Diablo-like game if it weren't for all the freemium stuff in it.

        Unlike some though, I don't just blame the game companies. For a variety of reasons there is a completely unreasonable downward pressure on game prices on iOS, so that people think even $5 for a game is expensive, no matter how good or extensive the game is. Under those conditions it's no surprise that developers will try to make money in other ways.

      • captain hugs

        Unfortunately IAPs are becoming more prevalent in "hardcore" (read regular) games. Not in quite the same intrusive way as the casual/mobile market, but paid dlc is now a staple of any major title and it feel like you aren't getting the full game when you first buy it. A lot of the "old" PC mmos have gone down this f2p route offering a cut down service unless you go from free to premium. Io can see that any company that has produced a title wanting to get as much from its product as much as it can (updates aren't free to produce after all) but don't make the consumer feel like its a necessary to buy anything.
        There are only 2 f2p games I play at present : tf2 and dust514 and they both do freemium well, but you can't help but thing "is the guy who's killing me doing so because he paid money?"

        I'll always be one for paid titles. I know what I'm getting

      • futuresgreen

        I completely agree that it's scary that the bigger companies are making their top titles F2P and it seems as if they are wiping out the market of paying up front for a game. This could really hurt indie devs in the future or maybe carve a niche that you get what you pay for.

    • toxiccheese

      Unfortunately, F2P and IAP's are not going away anytime soon. Even the next-gen consoles will be falling into this trap, it's inevitable. The only way to change it is by not participating, but only more core-centric players think this way. Everyone else is just contributing to the problem. I admit I have fallen into the trap as well. When games like Asphalt 8 and RR3 present amazing experiences, it only makes it that much harder to keep from downloading. I may not spend any money, but my download helps push the game up to the more visible spots on the App Store... And that just leads to profits.

  • Lyra

    It's shitty, because then they only think gaming is frivolous time wasters instead of complex pieces on par with movies.

    • LOLCAT

      But that's kind of what iOs gaming is to some people 😉

  • William Hartman

    See, I disagree that Candy Crush Saga gets to be more strategic. I think it blatantly falls into the category of "pay to continue, or wait for random mix of elements to make you win". There is little strategy beyond what is exhibited at the beginning, but the random mix of elements makes it less puzzle, and more "Coin toss" as to whether or not you can even complete the level presented without a power-up or boost of some kind. That, to me, is bullshit. I hear my friends all the time saying crap like, "Oh man, finally got past level blah blah, took me like 50 tries!". REALLY? Is that what we call strategy and fun nowadays? Waiting for 50 tries to get that one lineup of a randomized "puzzle" level that can actually be finished?

    I deleted Bubble Witch Saga for the same reason. Eventually, you can't even see what you are shooting at, without having to plop down 10 bucks on powerups to allow you to even SEE WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

    Seriously, TA, how the hell can you even justify an article about this crap, bring more attention to it, and then somehow refer to it as "difficulty" or "Strategy" while keeping a straight face?

    • Derek Chin

      Yep. Candy Crush doesn't get more strategic. The suggestion is laughable and speaks to the lack of design experience on the part of TA.

      In reality, it gets more random. The distinction isn't even a subtle one. Also, every few levels is one that is especially luck dependent relative to the other levels nearby, creating artificial gates.

    • Protoman

      These articles make them money, TA has just as vested an interest in f2p as companies that make them do. Ever wonder why they started the "spend as little as possible" articles instead of making a dedicated and sincere statement for or against f2p. I've seen high praise for a lot of f2p here and yet they trash another game with the same model. Unfortunately f2p makes everyone money except the end user so no one in the industry is going to wish them away anytime soon.

      • futuresgreen

        But it's all about how the F2P model is used. In Candy Crush everyone seems to be aware it's abusively used but still mega popular.

  • MidianGTX

    It'd be less annoying if Candy Crush actually was a stepping stone to "better" games, but all of the people I know that started playing it are still playing it and nothing else. If they do move on, it seems far more likely they'll find something equally as dreadful rather than "advancing" to deeper, more complex premium games.

    As far as freemium goes, I feel there are pros and cons. The cons almost always outweigh the pros, and even the freemium games I genuinely enjoyed (Warframe most recently) would be more entertaining as a premium product. I'm happy with the model existing as long as the premium model continues to exist and none of my favourite IPs are converted over and ruined.

  • worldcitizen1919

    Ok here's a question for Touch Arcade Team.

    WHY can I play and enjoy Hay Day and buy IAP now and again and love it but am ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS AT MADDEN NFL??? Can Touch Arcade explain that to me? I love NFL but I simply WON'T play Madden 25. Yet I poured money into ULTIMA!!


    I love Ultima and Madden EQUALLY but will pour money into a ultima and NOT MADDEN WHY?

    With Ultima I can play and my play is NOT RESTRICTED. Only if I want better gear I have to pay. BUT WITH MADDEN -I have to PAY TO ACTUALLY PLAY and when I run out of energy I have to wait for timers to fill the energy.

    WHAT IF Madden allowed me to play indefinitely but I only had to pay to get better players and gear??? MAYBE then like Ultima I would feel good about it? I think maybe so. I think its the timers that kills freemium nothing else.

    What do you think Touch Arcade team? Is it the restrictions on gameplay that kills freemium and NOT the IAP?? RR3 is another. I love the game but have deleted it like Madden because I can't play CONTINUOUSLY without having to pay.

    • LOLCAT

      Interesting idea, though I will say that, more often times than not, timers are linked with the most infuriating kind of IAP: consumable IAP. I don't mind paying a couple bucks for something that will stay in my game indefinitely, like new levels or even characters, but consumable IAP I just don't do. thoughts?

      • macatron

        I completely agree with that. I'm completely ok with IAP just as long as it's for things that are permanently unlocked. If I have to continually purchase items to keep playing you've lost me as a potential customer.

      • Avantyr

        I am in favor of iaps as additional campaigns and full game unlocks(like when you get a few tutorial levels for free). Other than that not really, I don't like pay to win mechanics, or dum timers. iAPs should be more like content pack unlocks, rather than what they are now (pay to win on singleplayer isnt as bad as for multiplayer games).

    • conscript

      Bingo! It is the timers. I have never owed a F2P until Plants vs. Zombies 2 and Amateur Surgeon 3. I have spent real money in PVZ2 but refuse to do so in AS3 because it wants me to pay to continue.

  • wedge598

    I'm of the same era when you paid for the whole game and could play it as long as you wanted. However I'm not totally turned off by the freemium model. If done right, like with Dead Trigger, you can play a good long time by spending just a couple bucks. What boils my blood is what EA is doing to good games like Real Racing 3 and Ultima Forever. The pricing in those games is so over inflated you could literally spend dozens of dollars per hour if you wanted to play continuously.

    When your pricing model is such that the consumer would need to spend more than the price of a full console title just to play for a few hours then your pricing is greedy and insulting.

    Sadly it's the casual gamers that perpetuate these overpriced titles because they don't have the same sense of what is excessive pricing. I feel that companies like EA are exploiting the casual gamers ignorance at the frustration of the serious gamer.

    What's really maddening about it is that a game like RR3 is actually very good. But it's potential is stymied by absurd wait times and extremely steep pricing.

    • macatron

      THIS!! ^^^^^^

    • LOLCAT

      Smart people...

    • captain hugs

      You mean Madden-ing!

    • bilboad

      This+! I loved RR2 and would gladly pay $10 up front for RR3 without all the timers. Dungeon Hunter 4 is another game I feel this way about, a very good game ruined, for me at least, by the timers and intentional imbalances to support the pay model.

  • ThaBiGGDoGG

    I think more games need to go this way. There are lots of people without jobs these days & playing some games is their entertainment.

    A game like Real Racing 3 would be great on Xbox Live Arcade. Sure you have to wait at times for repairs etc but you got the game free. It did cost them money & time to create these games.

    Would you rather spend money on a game then find out you didn't like it? Or get a free game & really enjoy it & decide to spend a few dollars on it?

    • captain hugs

      The first part of your argument doesn't make much sense. You just imply games should be free because people have no jobs.

    • Leo281993

      Devs used to provide limited trial/lite versions where the customer could try the game out before purchasing the full version. So I don't think you can use this as a justification for F2P.

    • bilboad

      Your argument doesn't make sense as a justification for freemium. In fact XBLA is a good counter-example, since most games on there have a free demo available, so you can make sure you like it before buying it. Most people have no problem with IAP being used the same way on iOS, to allow one-time payments to permanently unlock a full version of a game or additional content once you've verified that you like it.

  • Adams Immersive

    Free-to-Play has its place; I don't mind it in the mix any more than I mind ad-supported games being in the mix. I just don't want them taking over the plans/time/energy of developers, resulting in some great "premium" (um... "normal") games not getting made!

    My preferred free model is simply a Demo/Lite/Free version, then you pay once to buy the full game once you know you like it.

  • Jake7905

    Actually, this article does make a fair point. While I'm no fan of freemium, and always prefer my games IAP free, it was the App Store's
    affordability that brought me back to gaming.

    After growing up a gamer in the late 80's and throughout the 90's, I quit console gaming simply because of cost. I had other responsibilities and not much income, so it (unhappily) had to be done.

    When I got my first smartphone (iPhone 4) the cheap games available on the App Store, along with the fact that my phone was my console, made it easy for me to get back into gaming. So I can say from first hand experience that the App Store's pricing does draw people in.

  • rednekzomby

    Gaming did evolve from brutally difficult money hungry arcade cabs so I may be showing my age here but not a lot has really changed from that perspective.
    No one is forcing anyone to pay, and research has shown that the "wales" are far from the non gamer stereotypes we believe them to be. There is room in this world for experiences like X-Com and Candy Crush.

    • captain hugs

      The arcade market could do that because it had the monopoly. When home consoles became cost effective for the average consumer they couldn't compete.

  • UltimateRhodes9000

    The F2P model is a double edged sword, it could go either way, for every Candy Crush or FarmVille, there is a Madden 25 or something out there as well

  • monoclespectacle

    Consumable IAP-The bane of all that is good. Unless it is 100% optional (See Foursaken Media).

    IAP Expansions and Permanent IAP- No different from the shareware days of old, in my opinion.

    Carry on.

    • macatron

      Exactly! 🙂

    • LOLCAT

      Perfectly said

  • icoker

    makes the gameplay pointless regardless of its quality.

  • EscortGamer

    Making a game free when 90 percent of it is paid is nonsense. It IS a trap!

  • Rejera

    Some free to play games are fine as free to play. The match 3 type of game is an example of that, but there are some types of games where it shouldn't be done. Action adventure/RPG games should NOT be free to play. Online Dungeon hunter is a series that shows this. Multiplayer games are a mixed bag. If all the IAPs are purely cosmetic, then it's fine. But if it effects play AT ALL, it should be shunned and should not be downloaded.

  • Nick

    There are a very small group of people who do F2P/Freemium well. The remainder employ incredibly shady tactics to get people to sink in as much money as possible.

    Candy Crush and Puzzles and Dragons are two of the most exploitative games currently on the App Store. They use disgusting tactics and because we are so susceptible to tricks on our brain, they work and people end up throwing money at them. Maybe a portion of players that pay buy one or two things, but enough people throw literal piles of money into the game that they stay in the top free/top grossing categories.

    I would so much rather drop a full price on a game and pay for added content (DLC, expansions, etc) but not be nickled and dimed into buying energy so I can play longer. K

    When a game has a solid base behind it, like Scallywags, I don't mind the IAP as much. I have spent some real money on the game, but that was to support the developers who created something very fun. Did I need to buy it? No, but it didn't OP the game and it ensured that there might be a few bucks going into the pockets of the brilliant Ron Gilbert.

    I did the same with Punch Quest, Tiny Tower and Pixel People. Great games, great developers (though I'm really unimpressed with the recent Pixel People changes, and I am putting it on hold for a while) and they deserved to get more attention, and earned the few dollars I paid.

    But for energy or something otherwise consumable in a game that doesn't have really solid gameplay mechanics, no. Not a penny will I spend, and I think the entire gaming world needs to stand up and say no.

    Give us DLC with real content or add fun little trinkets like in Junk Jack. Then, and only then, is money

  • Flynn Taggart

    I think less people need to be attracted to gaming. When I was a kid being a nerd meant that you were a pariah. Ever since that damned play station came out in ninety-four suddenly gaming is "cool." Now everybody has one. And the result? The death of platformers and jrpg's. Everytime I see some pretty boy asshole on tv talking about how much of a "gamer" he is it makes me sick to my stomach.

    • captain hugs

      Call of Duty is the bigger culprit, but I get your point. You could also say it was cd based games in which case it's Nintendos fault for screwing Sony (giving birth to the ps1)

      • Protoman

        Totally agree with the CoD statement. That game has single-handedly made gaming popular and dumbed down an entire generation of FPS players.
        I convinced a couple of buddies who are good at CoD to give Red Orchestra a try. It was hilarious watching those morons play a game that takes actual gaming skill to play. It really showed me how ridiculously dumbed down CoD was. Now I hear they plan on adding IAP to that game with the next iteration, so there's the EA pricing model jumping to consoles and PCs. Yay.

    • Guest

      I don't like Freemium at all. Even despite the fact that some F2P games are done ok such as Plants vs Zombies 2.
      Unfortunately, we can thank cheap gamers and pirates for this awful trend in iOS gaming.

  • Scot D

    It's as if gamers have been blitzed by the general public and their spending habits. The sheer mass of these casual gamers far out weigh the typical hardcore gamers. So what we end up seeing is a shock in response to this IAP and its success.

    The other problem is that most developing studios are also a business and businesses are in it to make a profit. If they see they can make X amount with a F2P model next to a traditional premium model, they'd be bad businessmen. The way to keep the hardcores respect would to delicately balance IAP which is entirely possible. In its current state, there is a mass flood of these poorly balanced IAP ridden games. I hold on to hope that we will see better days.

    • Scot D

      To add to the above. If there are games that you would really like to play but refuse to play because it has IAP, you are likely only hurting yourself. You're missing out on a game that you could be enjoying. You not playing it doesn't mean anything and won't change their model because way more people do play by there model. You could live any fantasy land and think in the back of your mind that others are doing this too so it will amount to something but the truth is, it won't matter. Look at Candy Crush, that game alone makes something around $650,000 every day. So you and your imaginary alliance are but a speck that they simply won't cater to. Do yourself a favor and download the games you think you might enjoy, you can always delete it. Because if you don't download it, you're the only one missing out.

    • pdSlooper

      I think the problem is more complex. The way the app store is set up doesn't allow for much diversification amongst gaming apps. If you look at a console market, there are niches -- for bullet hell devs, Nintendo Hard platformers, jRPGs, and more. Companies like Atlus, NIS, and XSeed exist to make/localize niche games...there's a place in the console market for them. So no matter how much "hardk0res" fear the dissapearance of their favorites genres to the "cashualz", their games are around to stay because there's profit in them.

      But the app store. It's not like the console market at all. There are too many games, they are barely differentiated from each other in-store, and every search method is set up so that niche, unpopular, or obscure titles are as inaccessible as possible. Great for the casual consumer or first time iOSer, but awful and downright infuriating for an interestered gamer. Good devs suffer from this set-up, that pretty much dooms their games to obscurity.

      • Scot D

        You make some solid points.

        I believe the App Store can most certainly support different niche genres. Look at the shmups. If a good developer makes a good quality non IAP game and puts it up on the market, I believe it can sell well.

        The problem is the typical console developer doesn't mess around with iOS games. At least not yet. The majority of the game types we consider for core gamers are made from smaller or independent studios. Since making an iOS game, or Android game is so much cheaper and quicker to make, those same developers naturally have far less money to spend on what would help distinguish themselves; advertising.

        Even still, to make the maximum amount of money, you need lots and lots of downloads and I'm not sure the amount needed can be accomplished with a premium price. The reason is that you want as many people as possible to download your game. Make it cool looking, and get it in as many peoples hands as possible. Once you have a game that is easy enough to play and is free, its all gravy from there with just a few IAPs. So why would the bigger developers that need big profits do a niche game with a premium price compared to a free game that is casual in nature and features cute IAPs that appeal to the masses?

        That, I believe, is what makes so many of these IAP ridden freemium games.

      • pdSlooper

        "I believe the App Store can most certainly support different niche genres. Look at the shmups."

        Yeah, Cave is doing pretty well on the app store, aren't they? They're a bit of an anomaly to me, along with iOS shmups in general, though it definitely gives me hope. Though Cave has some benefits that might not translate to all companies or genres: shmups adapt well to current iOS controls, plus Cave is a recognizable brand name and has a distinctive visual style.

        "Once you have a game that is easy enough to play and is free, its all gravy from there with just a few IAPs. So why would the bigger developers that need big profits do a niche game with a premium price compared to a free game that is casual in nature and features cute IAPs that appeal to the masses?"

        It's a good question. There was an interview with Miyamoto once where he was talking about how hard it was to convince shareholders to just let him make a Mario game, when what they wanted was another 100 Brain Ages. So, I think part of the answer to your question is: it's up to developers to make games they want to make (and we've seen some here express an interest in making niche, "gamer's games", over mass market IAP stuff).

        It's also up to consumers to keep those niche markets existent. (By saving their time and money for premium games, by networking with each other on TA and other sites to keep each other informed on the existence of good games that the app store obscures, etc.)

        Sadly, we're a market niche, so I don't think we'll ever load up the app store and find the top 100 games flooded with premium priced deliciousness. Even the "Top paid games" list tends to be...disappointing.

      • Scot D

        I completely agree. I can't think of anything to add to that. Well said. 🙂

      • pdSlooper

        I enjoyed our exchange. 🙂 Though it hardly feels like an internet conversation without insulting each other!

      • Scot D

        LOL That made me bust out laughing! Yes, indeed, I did as well! Thank you!

  • diaskeaus

    Free-to-play is fine, in my opinion, except when the game experience becomes different for different players based on how much money they spend.

    I have no problem with gated content (like expansions) or non-gameplay affecting purchases. However, forcing players to spend money like a madman just to play the normal game is insulting and unethical. Just charge an upfront fee, and allow the community to judge your game based on how much you have charged.

    • timborama

      Isn't that the whole point?!? If the experience were EXACTLY the same, no one would spend any money on IAP.

      I for one will never spend 1¢ on IAP. Or download another EA game.

  • wingsofdestiny89

    I think it's a good way to start non-gamers to game by removing the 1st barrier of entry: paying for it. It's better than a demo, since demos cuts you off after you've just starting to enjoy it (after 1st stage). Freemium games gives you the full blown game with the options to "go the easy way" by purchasing the IAP.

    Unfortunately I feel that recently, developers are pushing the freemium models to the point that I'll rather just pay money for a game that doesn't bug me to buy more stuff.

  • ineptidude

    Eh, gamer skill is just muscle memory and comprehension. Not much elitism going on there.

    • captain hugs

      The elitism comes from not rage quitting due to smack talk

    • pdSlooper

      You must play some really boring games. ;P

  • Retero

    Is freemium a good way to get non-gamers to gives casual games on iOS a shot.

    YES, YES, and YES. But let me explain myself.

    I have friends that only play games that are free because they have some mental problem about spending money on iOS games. But they would have never played any games period without these freemium games. And eventually when I tell them that they should get a good premium game they sometimes give in. Eventually they will start to buy some on their own.

    However, this comes at the cost of losing some premium IPs to freemium, but this shows non-gamers what an iPhone and iPad can really do. And we can't lose that. I see no easier solution than this on iOS. But if anyone has one, please share it.

  • Darkkwolfe

    I find it amusing when people take a moral stance on this argument and call IAP and F2P tactics "unethical". This hasn't got anything to do with ethics! Video games in all their forms are simply products that a FOR PROFIT business is bringing to market. The "sneaky psychological tricks" are called good marketing.

    Business has to be about money first, otherwise you don't stay in business long! The method of the sale, whether F2P or conventional, is the choice of the business and they will succeed or fail based on how well executed their product is. Period. Demonizing the companies that choose F2P is just infantile.

    As a business owner, I am intimately aware of the challenges of staying in the black. If IAPs are "keeping the lights on" then so be it.

    That said however, I hate playing games that limit my playtime, so those always get deleted. Most F2P games are horribly unbalanced and are clearly designed for the casual player (which I am not).

    On the other hand, I think that F2P can be done very well. My current favorite money pit is Clash of Clans. I got seriously hooked on that game and was happy to pay some money (still far less than I would for a console game) to have certain advantages provided.

    I think my ultimate preference would be to have the F2P option, as well as a conventional purchasing option. Obviously that wouldn't work for all games, but I think it could for many.

    • Dr. Woodenstein

      Not fond of much of what I've just read aside from the last paragraph. The worst thing about having dual purchasing options is that the free versions usually have ads and eventually the paid version gets ads too. Seriously, it happens and it sucks.
      P.S. Yeah I know in your preference the paid version wouldn't have ads. It's late, I'm bored, just felt like throwing that little tidbit about the ads out there.

    • Protoman

      So I take it you have no qualms with rampant drug abuse as well?

      • Protoman

        Or people addicted to gambling...

      • Rubicon Development

        Why are you saying words. The subject is F2P.

      • Rubicon Development

        Thank God there are no straw men and hyperbole else this conversation would descend into pointless posturing.

        Oh wait...

      • Protoman

        Give me til after work. I will post a bevy of psychological studies showing all 3 things work off the exact same brain chemistry involved with the reward and pleasure centers of the brain.

      • Rubicon Development

        I'll go find some studies that proves gaming casuse psychosis if you like. I prefer to just deal with stuff as I come across it though tbh, anything I don't like I just pass by.

      • Protoman

        Than why fucking even comment about my post?

      • Rubicon Development

        Because your pointless bullshit was made as a comment to someone elses post. But I guess yours are special. Good wisdom, the swearing underlines your opinion marvelously.

  • Dr. Woodenstein

    I notice some people saying they dislike freemium games, but they don't really hurt the gamers. I don't mean to be rude, but they do hurt us. Have you noticed Ultima lately? That could have been such a great game but instead it was turned into a freemium game. Yes we get some good, no I take that back, we get some great games but some games that should have been great are being turned into freemium games because companies think they can make more money that way. Now as Jared mentioned in the article, some companies go freemium because it's the only way to survive. That doesn't cut it with me. I prefer classics (i.e. KOTOR, Baldur's Gate, Final Fantasy, etc.) to the games made specifically for ios. Well guess what! Those companies will survive without going freemium. In short, if there was never another free game made, I would be much happier. At least we could get back to what matters in gaming.

  • Atangerine

    Well if you really want to get past timers, you can always change the date or time of your phone

  • daniel schroeder

    I don't think there's anything inherently bad with F2P because of a lot of the points made in the article. It's nice to be able to talk about games with people outside of the "hardcore" gamer community. I just think too many companies tweak their games to push people into paying, and it gives it a bad rap. At the same time, I don't think it affects me negatively when other people get into a game and decide to spend some money on it.

    When it comes to beloved IPs that go the F2P route, it can be a bummer sometimes. But there are so many other games out there that it's hard to be loyal to any certain developer or title, at least to the point of throwing a virtual tizzy fit when this happens. I just feel like if my favorite game series went F2P, and in a bad way, I would just move on to another game I could enjoy.

    In line with the article, while I'm already a gamer, it was the move to F2P that brought me into the Real Racing series!

  • captain hugs

    For anyone who's bought a product from Games Workshop, their entire business model is based on Dlc and IAP. I'm pretty sure they invented it.

  • lazrhog

    The problem with IAP is no one is advising the developers on IAP implementation. They look at the top grossing charts and think that is the way it should be done to generate revenue.

    If the grossing charts were removed, the developers would have to find the best IAP model for their game, rather than fitting their game to the best IAP model .....

  • SkyrimMaster

    RR3 has a timer thing? The only timer i know I is that race stuff that allows you to do time trials or whatever. That doesn't seem to be bad since you only do the time trial thing every once in a while.

  • Reignmaker

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't get the impression that gaming is in dire need of a bunch of new recruits. Most of the current generation is addicted to the practice anyway. It's not like we need to dumb down our offerings just to open the door to people. Based on what I've seen, most of these "new gamers" don't venture further than Angry Birds or Bejeweled anyway.

    • pdSlooper

      I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good game. Not everyone *identifies* as a gamer (or as a *video* gamer), which is a problem for people who want to make money by selling video games, but, eh, not my problem. I know how to con my mom into a video game when I need to. ;]

  • bryanpetrol

    Depends on how they're done. I wouldn't mind paying to open new levels or extend playability but having to pay almost every time you play something... I trash those immediately.

  • WarMachine

    Only good free to play games out there are Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, and DOTA 2. Only free to play games I've played that takes skill over money to win.

  • poorwealthyman

    Why should non-gamers be offered something they're not interested in? I don't really like reading novels, but they don't offer me a free picture book for entertainment.

    But... If you have to do it, don't neglect the people who *are* gamers. At least offer them something, too. EA is pretty much freemium-only now - basically saying "Screw gamers who like games, we want people who aren't interested to buy our stuff."

    • tinkie277

      Pure greed they just want money, FIFA 14 is going to be utter shite.

      F2P should go dig a hole and lay in it.

  • KB24

    Free games make sense for developers because you can get many more downloads which leads to higher rankings in the App Store. Unless the game is from a reputable, established developer I feel that people will not pay $4.99 for a AAA game.. So if a dev invested $100k+ and they are a new studio, FTP seems like really the only way to go..

    • KB24

      As long as there are no restrictions to gameplay, such as timers etc

  • Garbagemaster

    I've sworn off F2P...and as a result I'm not downloading nearly as many games anymore. Feels like I'M the one being gamed.
    I don't mind a "lite" version that can upgraded to the full game via IAP.

  • heresandypandy

    Great for casual gamers, but what the publishers/developers need to realise is that hardcore gamers simply won't give them the incremental IAP payments; it's just not what we're used to. So while FTP games make them a lot of money they're still losing quite a big customer-base potentially. They should always give the option to unlock the full game without restraints for a premium price, then they've got the best of both worlds and are hitting maximum profits, and everyone's happy.

  • abdul.wahab

    Games must be 0.99 not free to play

    For example tiny thief is for 1.99 ( I think ) and there is no in app purchases

    So free to play games are kinda sucks

    • Rubicon Development

      this is why developers are moving away from premium

  • iamjanosch

    People who only 'game' on ios aren't proper gamers. You'd have to play games that take longer and a few hours to complete to become a gamer, not just minecraft and terraria and co. ios isn't made for games it's made for music, work and to be a phone.

  • Bhearus

    Things change. There will be well made games and poorly made games regardless. Perhaps the pool to choose from is thin with regards to well made free to play games but that should change over time.

  • Nachtfischer

    F2P is horrible. It destroys any game's competitive viability to begin with. It's good the get non-gamers addicted and interested in a very WRONG kind of gaming. Nothing more.

  • Dai Lion

    As usuall, most users who write comments says no to f2p. The millions of people that love f2p, dont write a word. Yes, i know a lot of people become casual players thank to the f2p.

  • Bewi

    I don't mind that games like Candy Crush (or whichever game of the same kind) earn their developers millions of dollars a month (or even more), that's good for them, and for people enjoying this game too.

    But I fear this kind of games give a bad example of how the gaming industry could evolve. You could ask why bother developing good games for a premium price of 1, 2, 5 or even 10 bucks when you could go for a gentle and colorful and cute mini game that you will give for free and load with IAP ?

    As long as this kind of industry does not interfere with the development of good premium games, that's OK. But what if one day a game like Terraria, fully premium and deep, does not sell enough ?

    Attracting new people with games like Candy Crush will not make these people willing to pay for "normal" games, I'm pretty sure. They will go from Candy Crush to Jelly Splash and Tetris Blitz. Good for those games, but no impact on premium games, as long as they continue to find their public. And that's why the presence of toucharcade (for instance) is so important.

    Someone, no, everyone must shout that Junk Jack X, Terraria, X-COM, Rymdkapsel, are good games and that it is normal and fair to pay for them. Because it feeds honests developers who love what they do and who deserves to eat thanks to their work.

  • blakedaking

    I've always felt that if people keep purchasing in app items, companies will do it. I will not do it and am against free to play

  • pkmaximum

    I wish I could start a fundraising effort or something to convince gaming companies to do away with free to play. I know some people like the model, but it's definitely taken too far with certain games.

  • Sithinious

    Grognard here, 30+ years gaming crowd. These free-to-get-hooked-and-then-give-all-your-money "games" seem like nothing but cash grabs. Sure, there's a place for them with the casual crowd, my concern is that more and more developers will jump on that bandwagon and quality games will go the way of the dinosaur. I fear the day that the App Store is full of nothing but candy crushalikes.

  • CzechCongo

    I'll throw my 2¢ in. I have very very rarely bought IAP. The only one that sticks out is the coin doubler for Jetpack Joyride. I have kids, so I have IAP off in restrictions, so I have to really try to buy them. I'm thinking I'll probably get the doubler for Zombie Highway Driver's Ed too, partially because of all the fun I've had with the original. Like many, I haven't bought anything for PvZ2 since I haven't needed to and challenges are FUN; that's part of gaming.

    Things like a coin doubler make sense - help the dev out a bit, your grind is easier; you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Games that have IAP set up like a PAYWALL, though, are right out. Forget it. Once I get to that point, it's instance delete. There are lots of good comments about this above re: Candy Crush. It's just so obvious they're funneling you towards IAP to proceed it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Yes, it seems like some franchises are being "ruined" by IAP and there are lots of great games that might otherwise be more fun with different economy mechanics. And yes, devs can choose how they want to monetize their work. From my perspective, there are plenty of fun games out there without egregious IAP and they get my time and money. Thanks to TA and commenters/forum-folk who make the selection process more informed.

  • JohnnyJ301

    I can't stand Freemium despite the fact that some F2P games ( not a lot) are done ok.
    We can all thank cheap gamers and pirates for this awful trend in iOS gaming.

  • josiath21

    I consider myself a gamer, for about 20+ years. I know i don't understand the difficulties in development, and I appreciate that a free-to-play model might make the difference betweens a dev's game happening or not. I don't begrudge a dev this, and I appreciate that such a model engages a whole new set of people in gaming (casual who may not otherwise be engaged). That's technically a good thing, but I don't like this feeling that its going to encroach on "my realm" of gaming. I payed full price for Bloodmasque ($7) and have had a lot of fun with it. Despite the comparatively high initial price the game has IAP, and i feel its just slightly shady. Admittedly, Squenix did IAP right, if it MUST be there; its there if its worth it to you but not necessary at all. Ultimately I will end up disappointed because after the story is over the point is to continue grinding for the best equips, which I feel is only further opportunity to convince players to IAP. Some would say, "IAP is here because us gamers have bought into it and fueled the IAP flames." My main objection: the large group of people who play casual games and spend money on the free-to-play games could sway the industry in another direction; I don't want this large group to be seen as representative of gamers (me) when they are the ones who view the past time as throw away entertainment (which i do not).

  • kkthxybye

    I'm willing to pay 20€ or more if the game is worth it. Like XCom for example. I don't Download any free2play Games.

  • twopiearr

    What you're describing isn't an approach to turn non-gamers into gamers as much as the approach the stereotypical 80s drug pushers use to get kids hooked on drugs. Non gaming mom who wants another challenge after Candy Crush isn't going to go by Swords and Sworcery or a port of a classic dungeon crawler like The Bards Tale, she's going to go download another freemium title that has all the bullshit of Candy Crush, dump hours and dollars into THAT, and then rinse and repeat - and since freemium has become the model of choice for the industry, shes going to be looking at the dreaded Top 200 Free list, which is full of Candy Crush clones in terms of design theory. This is the opposite approach of bringing someone to gaming because it trains them to believe that games are something you do because everyone else is doing them rather than because you get some kind of pleasure out of the act. This is an insidious blight that turns non gamers into consumer zombies, not into hobbyists who think critically about the industry.

  • tpianca

    ...And nobody ever heard about a cheat code anymore, as people who where bad in playing were good in paying...

  • bigjack66

    It depends on the way the game is set up. I've been playing Real Racing3 for months now got a load of the top cars and haven't payed a penny. Same with Dungeon Hunter4 finished it payed nothing. Some people are impatient or have too much money so buy stuff upfront. But other games like Frontline Commando and Contract Killer zombies are impossible to complete without spending real money! There is something much worse happening where lone programmers are charging extortionate prices for crap that wouldn't trouble one of the earliest computers. Check out Game of Crowns £ 6.99.( maybe UK only) very very bad and its not the worst!

  • Brandon Nodnarb

    I hate Free to Play and DLC I will never spend a dime on either. Ever.