All games should be free!

(mobile post) Theres a debate raging over on LinkedIn about protecting the relatively high price of iPad apps when compared to iPhone apps and i have to say i disagree. I got so far as: Games should be free!

Why would I say this even though I derive a living from games along with many thousands of other game developers?

Because it’s entirely possible to make money from ‘free’ games with a caveat that some aspects of the experience can be embellished, enhanced or sped up at a price. OK, I suppose I exaggerated the first point but I think you understand the point I’m making. :)

This freemium model has been proved to work time and time again but the old guard want to protect the old ways. Sadly the traditional locked game design is lazy as the current thinking about freemium requires just that, some thinking. Notice I say “current” thinking as this has been around for a few years now. It’s proven to work and is well documented including books like ‘Free’ that explore the reasons why Free is such a radical price.

Here are some quick examples to get you thinking:

  1. Think about items that decay over time, ultimately perishing once expired. E.g. 6 week ownership of a car, squad members contract
  2. Items that give you extra capacity but require regular payments to keep. E.g., a garage that allows you to have more than 3 cars, football physic that improves your squad performance
  3. How about items that have a single use. E.g., refuel mid-race, distract referee
  4. Maybe you want to skip 10 levels of XP with your 3rd character? Join the game straight into the Premier League

I can guarantee a lot more people will play your ‘free’ game than would pay £5 for it. And the more of people play it, the more some people are likely to drop you a bit of cash for some bits and that’s the beginning of a torrent.

This extends into add-ons too, there’s similar evidence to say that releasing free DLC for a game has the effect of stalling trade-ins and also improve up take as they increase the perceived value of your game.

The hard part is getting a game that people really want to play, and keep playing, and recommend their friends play too.

If you have faith in your game design, let it free.

I assume if you’re reading this you make games, do you agree with this? Is this selling you down the river?

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