Discussions on freemium-related topics always draw the most attention, mostly because the freemium model has been greedily explored by many developers at the expense of the end users. For those wondering though why exactly more developers are going down this route by the day, just have a look at the Top Grossing charts on Google Play.
In the Top Grossing charts at the time of writing, I only see 7 paid games in the top 100. Yes, only 7! These are Need for Speed Most Wanted (58), Minecraft PE (60), Asphalt 7: Heat (80), Asphalt 6: Adrenaline (84), Where’s My Water (88), Wild Blood (94) and Football Manager Handheld 2013 (95). Take note that this list might vary from region to region and device to device, but you generally get the idea where I’m getting at, right?
Looking back a year ago, I remember paid games featured much more prominently on this chart. Now though, the highest paid game is at No. 58. Only. There is talk that it is us, the mobile gamers, that have ourselves to blame. For shunning paid games and instead getting free ones. For only ever considering getting a paid game for $0.99. And for many other reasons including piracy.
These may be valid reasons, but to me, the biggest reason why developers are going down the freemium route is because (surprise, surprise) people actually support it. There are people who, believe it or not, refuse to pay outright for a game (even if it is priced at $2.99), but will then happily spend $19.99 on IAPs. Maybe none of this site’s readers do that, but that’s what the casual audience does. Quite a baffling, ain’t it?
The Top Grossing charts don’t lie, and most if not all mobile game developers are compelled to embrace the freemium model as a result. This is especially true for the bigger developers, who like every successful company, have the intention of reaping a handsome profit off their products. And from a strictly business point of view, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Gameloft and Gamevil went down that route a while back. EA is joining in the fray, and even the illustrious Square Enix has embraced the freemium model. Thing is, these are the very companies that have the capabilities and resources to make really good games, but due to their business model, they spend more time thinking of how to extort more money and make life difficult for their users rather than focusing on providing a breathtaking and immersive gaming experience.
Last year this time, more than half of the games in the top 100 of the Top Grossing charts had a price tag other than free. But come February 2014, there is the stark possibility that not even a single paid game will make it into the top 100. Or the top 200 for that matter. You and me may not like the sound of things, but we better get used to a future where top-quality premium gaming experiences are going to be far and few between. Well, as things stand, this is already rare, but it will only get rarer as the months pass by.