This blog post is based on a recent talk I gave at PGConnect Bangalore titled "Premium Mobile Games : Alternative Routes to Monetization". The talk was well received and it encouraged me to share some of the points I made in the talk here.
At this event, most of the talks focused on the Free2Play (F2P) or Freemium games. Hardly anyone was talking about paid games. Almost all the developers that I met were making a F2P game, regardless of the genre or target audience. Making a premium paid game was not even an option most of the developers were considering. It seems like the industry rhetoric regarding F2P games has convinced every developer that F2P is the only option in the current market.
During my research for the talk, I came across an interview with Mike Bithell, of Thomas was Alone fame, titled 'Why Freemium is not for everyone'. On mentioning this on twitter, Oscar Clark of Unity, tweeted 'Why F2P is for everyone, but not every game' and linked me to this brilliant article written by him putting forward the situations where making a paid game makes business sense. You should definitely read the article here.
Even Unity put forward an article recently on how to make successful mobile games using the premium route. This is another must read article.
So what I am saying is, 'Not every game has to be F2P'. Some games, like Monument Valley by ustwo or Year Walk by Simogo, are built as experiences focused on immersion. These games would never have worked with timers or other virtual gates that F2P games need. Other games, like Blek by Kunabi Brother, are an artistic expression and ads would dilute the game. Still other games, like A Dark Room by Amirali Rajan, are weird creatively interesting niche games, which target a very specific target audience willing to pay a premium.
And there are other games like my studio's (All in a Days Play) under development game Movie Studio Tycoon, which is a passion project. The game is influenced by the tycoon games that I grew up playing, like Zoo Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon. I remember spending hours sitting in front of the PC managing my virtual Zoo. We started designing Movie Studio Tycoon as a F2P game because of the 'premium games are dead' rhetoric. But I soon realised that the reason for developing this game was to recreate the experience of being totally immersed in a virtual world and how much fun that was for me. I knew we will lose a lot of that if we were to introduce F2P mechanics like timers, multiple virtual currencies etc. and as such we decided to go premium for this game. We have also decided to target PC / Steam first for this game before bringing it back to mobile devices. I will go into the reasons in a future blog post.
To clarify, as a studio, we are still doing F2P games, but for this particular game, F2P did not make sense. Not every game has to be F2P. There are successful premium games. Platform holders are also encouraging premium games by featuring them heavily. And some games will never work as F2P.
I hope game studios look at specific game before deciding F2P or Premium, instead of defaulting to F2P.
Thank you for reading. Do share your feedback here or on twitter @abhimir