The best freemium mobile games are simply better than best paid mobile games

Discussion in 'General Game Discussion and Questions' started by hitmantb, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. hitmantb

    hitmantb Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2011
    #1 hitmantb, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
    Fact: There is not a single paid game on top 100 grossing outside of initial launch weekends.

    Fact: The three games with ads on Superbowl paying millions of dollars were all freemium, mobile games.

    Fact: Tencent, China's #1 mobile game operator, has higher revenue from gaming than EA and Activision.

    Fact: The top rated Touch Arcade games generally have no chance on top grossing charts. 99 cents games and support them with endless contents is a great way to win a Touch Arcade game of the week award! It is also a sure fire way to fail your start-up and find a real job.

    And it is not because people who vote with their wallets are all idiots. It is because freemium games simply provide a much longer lasting, fulfilling, social experience. The emotional attachment a player has to say, his base in Clash of Clans is far far greater than any game they play for a week or two, beat and move on. The top freemium games also have far bigger budgets and production values, because of the capital they have to introduce new contents and keep things fresh.

    They are also designed for mobile devices, allows you to play in bite sized time segments, not ports of console games with virtual controls. You can log in for five minutes and collect resources, improve your base, add another level/gear to a character and feel you have accomplished something in a persistent world. You want instant gratification and that is what freemium mobile games do best, especially for people with more money than time.

    Top 3 Grossing Freemium Games:

    Clash of Clans - 1.8 billion dollars last year, on target for another billion dollar year will definitely make it the most profitable game ever. Yes, more than GTA V! Easy to get into, hard to master and incredibly addictive, the only top 10 grossing game in US, Europe, Japan, Korea, China, you name it. No modern game ever broke cultural barrier like COC did. For all the meters people on this forum hate, this is one of the most time consuming games out there when played competitively. Inspired countless copy cats and revolutionary for its time. One of the very first graphical, fully interactive base building/fighting mobile games.

    There are millions of posts discussing build layout, offense/defense set ups, and how to read the defense and get 3-stars. No, you can not blindly deploy your troops and hope for good results, the same troops played by a top player will get 3 stars, played by a mediocre player would get wiped out against the same base. Clan wars is played very seriously at higher rankings and some of the most memorable gaming experiences anywhere when you have a tied game going into the final minutes. It builds strong bonds between players and requires a ton of coordination as a team to win. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PAID GAME ON APP STORE ANYWHERE NEAR AS COMPETITIVE AS COC AT ITS HIGHEST LEVEL.

    Puzzles and Dragons - Match 3 with card collection, a truly unique blend, revolutionary for its time. Requires a lot of skill to play in the end game, unlimited combination of team compositions. Truly satisfying to build up a box over time and conquer end game contents. The casino way of gambling for 5-star characters inspired countless copy cats. Two years and still insanely strong in Japan/Asia.

    Candy Crush - Extremely polished match-3, you can hate it all you want but it brought more casual players into mobile gaming than any other game. People who have skills can beat it without spending money and brag about it. People who want to speed up their progression can pay to do so. Best of both worlds!

    Honorable Mention - Heroes Charge, it is a much better game than what meets the eyes. The game it is based on, DOTA Legend was #1 grossing in China for a very long time. It looks like one of these auto-attack games but it really is a minimized version of World of Warcraft with arena fights, raid fights, guild competition and much more. Every hero can be leveled from 1-star to 5-star and many of the best end game heroes are what you get in the beginning for free, creating a much stronger bond between a player and the first characters he gets. There is a reason what looks like a run-of-the-mill game can afford a superbowl ad. It is also top 10 in Korea, one of the only non-Korean game to make it this far. It is the perfect example of how mobile games capture the essence of time consuming full flavor games.

    Now let me list the games touch arcade rate very highly:

    1) Infinity Blade games - What seemed like a big commercial success is now putrid in comparison. Without the financial resources the developers just can not keep things fresh with new contents. Very boring after 1-2 play through's, very poor weapon balance, it is a graphic showcase and nothing more. The top 3 games I listed above EACH makes more money in a month than all Infinity Blade games combined in their entire life time.

    2) Battleheart Legacy - I actually really like the mini-Skyrim feeling, open ended world with unlimited skill combinations. It is extremely well designed but the whole indie thing killed it. You beat it after say a week or two of playing and you are done with it. If someone mix the freemium formula with multiplayer/social elements, better graphics and Battleheart Legacy style game play, there is potential for a huge hit.

    3) XCOM / GTA and other big console ports - Again more of a technology show case and at best, make one splash on launch weekend and fall out of top 100 grossing chart forever. Console games are not meant to be played on mobile devices period. They are designed for extended playing sessions in front of a big screen. The virtual controls suck compared to games made for touch screens like clash of clans. And even with that out of equation, these games have the same problem with you play once, beat it and move on. Where the best freemium games simply last forever. Seriously why do traditional console developers believe people will enjoy playing 10 year old games with completely outdated mechanics and shoddy controls in 2015? It is a niche market that exists for nostalgia alone. A game like Baldur's Gate 2 was amazing when I played it decades ago because we didn't have anything better then, its graphics/pace are completely outdated to compete in the age of instant gratification.

    So there you have it. I have never spent a dollar for Clash of Clans and I do just fine. It is fun to beat players who have invested more but at the same time, my expectation is I will not compete anywhere near the highest level. Life itself is a freemium game people! Some will be born with more money than you will ever see in your entire life time. To me overcome economical disadvantages is a lot of fun, both in real life and in game.

    The best freemium games will make sure the low/zero spenders still get enough enjoyment to stay in the game, so the big spenders feel good about themselves because there is a huge population of no/low-paying players who will worship them. You can see companies like Glu and Gameloft crumble with the pay wall concept, their games just don't hit top of the charts these days.

    Today there are already more people playing Clash of Clans than GTA. The trend will not reverse. It is accelerating. We are in the age of instant gratification entertainment and we are not going back. Indie developers with NES/SNES graphics asking why their 99 cents games don't make money, do they even give themselves a chance to win?

    Also just a quote from Peter Molyneux, one of the respected old school developers from late 2013:

    "The newly released Grand Theft Auto V is a game that's everywhere, you can hardly avoid it," Molyneux said, speaking at Mobile Entertainment's Top 50 Mobile Innovators project last night. "It will achieve around $1 billion in revenue on consoles in just one month.

    "Sounds impressive, doesn't it? No. That's not impressive."

    Instead, Molyneux believes that the revenue some mobile developers are pulling in is far more exciting.

    "What is outstandingly impressive is the success of mobile companies like Supercell, who has released games including Hay Day and Clash of Clans," he continued. "Those games, which were released 18 months ago, are achieving revenue between $3 million and $5 million each day. That is impressive."

    18 months later, COC is still #1 and growing even bigger and bigger.

    Embrace the future of gaming, there is no going back!
  2. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

    Jan 13, 2011
    10 years from now people will still be raving about GTA V as a classic game rather than Clash of clans

    But don't you think you should buy at least one IAP as a way of thanks to these devs for giving you tons of gameplay ? If no one bought IAPs these games wouldn't exist for you to play
  3. chaos_envoys

    chaos_envoys Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Medical Doctor
    Pokke Village, Indonesia
    They have ads... Even when no one is buying iaps, the ads revenue is just so high....
  4. sweetdiss

    sweetdiss Well-Known Member

    Jun 15, 2009
    I'm excited to check back in on this thread in a day or two.
  5. slamraman

    slamraman Well-Known Member
    Patreon Gold

    Aug 27, 2011
    quite sadly the OP makes very good points, especially with the long lasting part - i'd argue against fulfilling, but my kids love CofC. Personally, I like games that give me satisfaction (like the Mikey series, Quantum Sheep games, Brough, Llamasoft, I'm playing and enjoying Folt just now) and don't really care what the masses think. Christ, I'd love to see a QS game break into the top 10 much as, for a laugh I'd love to have seen At the Drive-In make the top 10 in the music charts in their day but popularity has never really reflected quality.
  6. VaroFN

    VaroFN Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    LSHMSFOAIDMT. Because ROFL wasn't enough.
  7. Exact-Psience

    Exact-Psience Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2012
    The Work-At-Home Guy
    I gotta admit OP did bring up some good points, but none of them proves freemium games to be better games than premium ones. LOL

    Crappy balance, unnecessary grinding. Main things commonly going on for freemium titles. Oh yeah, and waiting for timers to complete. LOL

    Just because they earn more and are in apple's top charts doesnt make them better games. They just are more accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike, which leads to faster distribution and generally more revenue. Still doesnt prove they provide better gameplay experience.
  8. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

    Jan 13, 2011
    Might be wrong but to me a ton of kids love freemium as they're 'free' and they dont seem to mind grinding non stop. I also notice some younger users ALWAYS asking for promo codes and never contributing in threads about paid games.

    I think older games arent that keen on freemium games but play a few.

    Games like Candy Crush will go down in history but not in a good way.

    I'm not a huge fan of freemium games but if i do play a freemium game a lot i will buy one IAP, it seems a lot of younger players wouldnt do this regardless even if they've played a game for weeks on end. Even freemium devs have to eat !

    I play one freemium game a lot (Star Wars) but with so many great premium priced games out there theres such a wide range i just have tons to play on. I could stop buying games for a year and still have a different game to play every day for a few years.

    I want iOS gaming to carry on being great so i'll always buy premium priced games. IF i play a freemium game a lot i will buy an IAP or two as a 'thanks'.

    The kids who arent buying premier priced games and arent buying a single IAP in a freemium game are the issue.
  9. psj3809

    psj3809 Moderator

    Jan 13, 2011
    Boy bands sell millions of records, are groups such as the Spice Girls better than the Rolling Stones etc as they had more number 1's ? Of course not.

    For me personally freemium games no way on earth provide a much longer lasting fulfilling experience. I dont care for the social side of it.

    I do agree for bite sized chunks they work well, i think a lot of 'non gamers' seem to be quite happy playing Candy Crush/Flappy Bird and not bother with most of the standard premium games in the app store on their new iphones.

    But the masses are fine with freemium it seems, i think most gamers who have been gaming for years whether its since the 80's or 90's arent huge fans of freemium but can 'live with it' as theres plenty of other games to buy

    After buying 'expensive' games in the 80's , 90's and 00's i love iOS games as they're SO cheap. Its depressing hearing someone moan about a game when its $3 and wants to wait for a price drop (!?!?!). If my purchase of a premium price game helps the dev, perhaps helps him do a sequel or more levels then i'm happy

    Some people seem to think its a badge of honor to say they never buy an IAP in a freemium game or hardly buy a premier priced game. I mean thats hurting devs of both premium and freemium, put your hand in your wallet ! The games are SOO cheap
  10. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    I'm pretty sure this is true right now, Clash of Clan's daily active user numbers are absolutely positively insane.
  11. Only in mobile gaming does "most profitable" translate to "best" or "most fun." In what other area do people look for how much money something makes before deciding about its quality? McDonald's is one of the most profitable food chains, but would you consider their food the "best" just because they make so much money off of it?
  12. Spindler

    Spindler Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Minecraft is #31
  13. Der-Kleine

    Der-Kleine Well-Known Member

    #13 Der-Kleine, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    I play games to have new and interesting experiences, not the same experience over and over again. I don't buy games based on how many people are currently playing them, how many people will be playing them in 10 years and how much money they are making because that's ####ing stupid.

    This pretty much sums it up.
  14. Gregz0r

    Gregz0r Well-Known Member

    #14 Gregz0r, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    People who buy freemium games are so blinded by the fact that they gained access to the game for 'free!', and therefore subconsciously don't factor in the total amount of IAP they subsequently buy.
    If CoC(or any other) was $4.99 with no IAP just timers for example, it wouldn't even make the charts - that has nothing to do with the 'quality' of the game.
  15. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    But people don't spend money on things they're not enjoying. Knowing that this is exactly how most people feel about spending any money on the App Store, it has always seemed weird to argue that Clash of Clans isn't a great game. Here you have a customer base that purchases with ultimate scrutiny freely spending tons of money on something. If that's not a vote of confidence I don't know what is.
  16. Neutronized

    Neutronized Active Member
    Patreon Silver

    Nov 26, 2013
    ..on the other hand if I were to develop a f2p game like Clash of Clans, I'd prefer working at McDonald's instead.

    Just wanted to share this opinion as developer of mobile games. Most f2p games out there seem very flat from a creative point of view, biz developers are probably getting most of the fun.
  17. #17 AppUnwrapper, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    That's the thing. The developers who are really passionate about creating games and getting them out into the world because they feel they have something worth sharing, are very different from the ones who see dollar signs before anything else.
    It's great to see quality games like Monument Valley do well. And they don't seem bothered by the fact that they're not making as much as CoC. They cared about the art before the money, and it shows. I'd like to see someone deny that CoC or Candy Crush would be more fun without the timers, limited tries, and all that other junk meant to make people spend. Pretend King decided they didn't need to make anymore money because they're fine with what they've made so far. Do you think their next game would still have timers, free or not?
  18. George Broussard

    George Broussard Active Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    #18 George Broussard, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    f2p games are fun and legit in every way. Like anything there are great ones and poor ones. Ones that have decent and fair monetization and some that are pretty bad.

    One thing is 100% certain. People do not spend money on things they do not enjoy. They spend money on entertainment. They stop when they are no longer entertained (do not buy into the addiction nonsense you hear).

    Disagree with the OP in terms of quality. There are a million great quality paid apps, as well as f2p apps. You can't really argue "best" there. All you can argue is who makes the most $$$. Being top grossing has NOTHING to do with best and EVERYTHING to do with economics and the way humans work. Period.

    The mass market customers and gamers at large have spoken on mobile. Most want f2p for obvious reasons.

    End of the day f2p is no different than an open, long running demo. You can play or not. If you pay $10 a month to play a game that you spend an hour a day in, that's not bad value at all. It's better than a movie or a $60 game.

    It's ok not to like f2p games or their mechanics. It isn't for everyone. It is, however, for most people.

    There are a lot of game snobs out there in terms of customers and developers. This will change over time because f2p is not going away.
  19. Squarehead Studios

    Jan 20, 2015
    Game Development
    Something to bear in mind is that the top grossing games are likely to be spending huge amounts of money on user acquisition (facebook ads etc). For every $1 in revenue they generate, they might be spending $0.95 in ads.

    Although the numbers are huge and they are no doubt doing fantastically well, there is a world of difference between revenue and profit. Looking at the apple store figures alone only tells part of the story.
  20. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    I don't think free to play is ever going away, but I think the way the free to play beast is being fed is going to need to change. When you look at the way most* highly funded free to play outfits work, their business model is very similar to agricultural factory farming where everything is one big financial formula balanced in an Excel spreadsheet and if you can put $1.00 in and get even $1.01 out, you might as well put a million dollars in and get ten grand out of it. But why stop at one million when two million will make you twenty grand, etc. Right now the factory farming iOS game machine is based on user acquisition and the costs of "good" users is skyrocketing. (I saw someone on Twitter mention paying $8 a user now, but that has to be a joke, right?)

    Eventually said Excel spreadsheet just isn't going to balance out anymore, regardless of how much money you feed into it... At which point, what happens? Are we still going to see these style of games once no one can afford to stoke the money fires with more users?

    *I say "most" because there's obvious exceptions everywhere. The mistake tons of people make in arguing about this is disregarding any level of nuance and instead making broad claims about all gamers and all free to play.

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