Free to play video games

Is free to play really free to play? That’s a good question. Some are and some are certainly not. When I open the AppStore app on my iPhone I always look at the “Top Charts” and browse through the top “Paid”, “Free” and “Grossing” chart. It’s interesting and it also gives you a picture of what’s in and what’s out.

And some people may know that the top grossing app is marketed as a free to play app (actually the top three). How can a free app make so much money? The key word: In-App purchases. Depending on the game you can literally buy anything from gold as game currency, booster weapons & armour, continues or extra power ups.

The question is why would anyone buy those items? Or more to the point: exchange real money for digital bites & bytes. That’s what they are. Nothing more and nothing less. Just some line of code that gives your game character extra power and options. I read somewhere once that most free to play games makes their money from just 3% of their player base. Those are the hardcore game addicts (who also have the money to pay for it, or kids with access to their parents credit cards).

So how do they get addicted to those games? The first step: get them to download it. Advertisement, marketing, mouth to mouth, paid reviews etc.

The second step: give them an accomplished feeling when ever they achieve an objective in the game. Item and gold rewards. This gives them the ability to complete the game objectives faster and better. Plus when they get a faster time, give them start & medals. Who doesn’t like to feel like a winner?

The third step: introduce an online competition. This can be a leaderboard system showing high game scores. Or a battle arena where they can fight other people with their game character to see who is the stronger one. There can only be one at the top, right? Even when it’s a fictional one.

The fourth step: is give daily bonus rewards. This motivates them to play the game each day.

During step 2 and 3, give them hints and pushes for some premium options in the game that they can only get now with in-app purchases and…. gotcha (the 3%).

But I do wonder if those 3% will ever stop and think why they play the game in the first place? That’s play the game as a form of enjoyment. Something to pass the time with. You know the limited 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 52 weeks a year. The years you have to live. I guess those 3% lost track of this and only see the game objective to be on the top, get a better score or a faster time.

Anyways this is what I ask myself whenever I feel that I’ve been playing a certain game to much. You know: I like everyone else have an expiration date, that’s… when you die. Wouldn’t you rather spend your time doing something else that’s more fulfilling and accomplished then… playing a video game. Which you can delete in seconds with a tap of your finger. And then what do you have…?