The freemium business model that underpins social and mobile gaming is considered to be a key pillar of success within these markets. After all, it creates an accessible platform from which multiple games can be enjoyed in real-time and without placing a strain on your finances.
There remains a core misunderstanding of the freemium business model and the free-play mobile gaming market, however. While many are inclined to believe that gamers choose to access mobile titles because they are free, there is evidence to suggest that this may not be the case.
If you like to play bingo at Swanky Bingo for an example, you’ll notice that users receive a free £15 free bonus to play with upon registering. Users will then, however, have the option to make further in-game deposits which is what makes them profitable for game developers.
According to analytics form Soomla; mobile gamers who make an in-app purchase of virtual goods are six times more likely to make further investments through the medium. This not only applies to single games, either, with players just as likely to make purchases across a range of social and mobile titles once they have completed their first transaction. This underlines the lure of paid mobile games, and proves that cost is not the primary factor in dictating players’ decisions.
Soomla’s latest reports tracked 20 million users throughout 2015, revealing its core findings across the mobile market as a whole. This is a vast market, and one that is clearly driving a trend for flexible, paid gaming experiences.
So what does this tell us about the mobile gaming market? In simple terms, players are motivated by the illusion of free that is provided by mobile gaming, as they access their favourite titles without having to pay a fixed (and often costly fee). The platform also offers players the flexibility in terms of how and when they spend their money, empowering them to invest in purchases that enhance the overall experience. The issue of whether they spend more or less over time is irrelevant to most mobile gamers, so long as they are not forced into making generic subscription payments or paying for features that they do not want.
This represents a clear trend in the market, and one that video and console game developers are finally beginning to follow. The upcoming Hitman: Agent 47 game is being released in optional, monthly increments on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 from March, for example, with each update affordably priced and providing a new mission for players. Individuals are under no obligation to buy, however, affording them complete freedom over their budgets.
We can therefore expect the console market to follow the template set by freemium gaming, as it builds on the true foundations of success for mobile and social platforms. Rather than simply reducing costs, they are focusing on affording players choice and encouraging purchases that improve their own, individual experience.