It Pays to be “Free”

It’s been longer than I should care to admit since I have contributed to CaribGamer. A smarter blogger would choose a topic of such universal ‘epicness’ that none would doubt the reason for my return. Instead, I use a word that only exists on urban dictionary in my opening paragraph-with the intention of dropping that dirty F-word in the paragraphs to come.

You know the one…Freemium.

Just in case you don’t know the word (though I’m sure you know the concept), I’ll save you a trip to google search.

FREEMIUM (ˈfriːmɪəm/)
noun: freemium; plural noun: freemiums

a business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for.

freemium

For gamers it usually boils down to DLC. Downloadable content is big bucks particularly in mobile and internet gaming. In fact, in 2013 the most lucrative mobile game was FTP and embraced the freemium business model…you may have heard of the title…Candycrush. NOW HOLD ON DON’T STOP READING….HEAR ME OUT.

It doesn’t matter if you consider the addictive app a real game or not; and I’m not just saying that because the market does, but rather because it affects things you consider ‘real-gaming’. The reality is that freemium games are profitable, and profitable things have a pesky habit of shaping our everyday lives.

So what does this mean to gamers?

It means that just around the time underground websites (that I’m sure I don’t know the names of) gave geeks (and pretend geeks) the far too easy ability to pirate computer games and entertainment (and quite frankly anything electronic with enough patience)….the publishers that lost revenue because of it might have stumbled onto some core information.

People like playing/sampling games without having to pay for them.
Gamers tend to get addicted to games they like.
Addicts will happily pay for the next fix.

wow Vs. (games like) lol

Giants in the industry like WoW find their subscription fees at ever decreasing levels while League of Legends is laughing out loud to the bank. If you’ve been listening to the reports you would have heard the higher ups at WOW actually speculating that FTP MMO titles were stealing their subscibers by providing more micro-transaction content than the “pets and mounts” that they offer. I can’t help but wonder how many loyal MMO fanboys on CG have crossed over to FTP titles.

Sure you see twists on the basic freemium model emerging; but as the industry plays around with the way we play, I couldn’t help but wonder just how far the deep pockets of freemium will go.

clashofclanshayday

Clash of Clans and Hay Day reportedly make 2.4 million a day for the still-young company Supercell who was acquired by Japanese Softbank Co. in October last year. FTP with Freemium may not last for ever, but it will rule for a while. I’m sure the huge telecommunication and internet giant Softbank will find new ways to harness this wave since freemium games already account for 70% of the revenue made by mobile gaming.

Personally I think the greatest fear should come from my good buddies at Nintendo, whose console reign tended to lean towards more family-oriented (and I’ll argue classic and casual) games. This is the same market of people redirecting their funds to FTP games with a freemium model. The experiment that is/was WiiU (as I understand it) is little more than throwing the game content in your hands to a larger screen and “I’m sure it would be incredibly hard to duplicate from a tablet or smart phone without the deep financial investment the (confusing) WiiU requires. ”…(I hope my sarcasm translates here).

In many ways Nintendo is targeting the same crowd that typically use FTP but charging increasingly for the experience. (I really wonder about the exec that made that particular call).
Wii-U-Failed
While I don’t predict the death of the online subscription market (this year), I do believe that if Asia keeps their development pace and marketing pushes the use of console controls as second-nature to the masses playing online FTP MMOs…the price to kill PC gaming as we know it…just may be free.