Game thinking from Adam Clare

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How to Make Money With a Freemium Model (F2P)

The free to play (F2P), AKA freemium, business model for games is a popular one but because it’s still a relatively new one for video games people are still figuring it out. That being said, some things are fairly obvious strategies, but the beauty of games is that the mechanics of the game itself may require new monetization methods.

Here’s what people who have experience and researched this topic deeply have to say:

First off, the person who literally wrote the book on Free 2 Play, Will Luton, sat down for interview on the basics of the F2P approach.

With publishers of console games testing the free-to-play, do you think it will work or is it only for mobile gaming?

F2P will work on any platform as long as games can be delivered digitally to it and the platform owners allow the model to occur. Consoles will need to embrace the model, indeed on Ouya free is the only model.

What’s the best way to ensure your game stays free-to-play without just becoming pay-to-win?

By letting players gain anything paid that gives advantage through play. Most games that offer a competitive advantage IAP are really offering convenience: Keep on grinding or pay and get it now.

You can read the full interview here.

A much more indepth article on the F2P cane be found at Gamasutra. Ramin Shokrizade outlines his top F2P magnetization tricks which range from genre-specific to psychological tricks to get people hooked.

Reward Removal

This is my favorite coercive monetization technique, because it is just so powerful. The technique involves giving the player some really huge reward, that makes them really happy, and then threatening to take it away if they do not spend. Research has shown that humans like getting rewards, but they hate losing what they already have much more than they value the same item as a reward. To be effective with this technique, you have to tell the player they have earned something, and then later tell them that they did not. The longer you allow the player to have the reward before you take it away, the more powerful is the effect.

One place to launch a game is on Kongergate, and online gaming portal. The portal has a great presentation on keeping players and getting them to pay.

Reflection on Making a Free Version of a Game

One of the creators of Catch the Monkey wrote a neat reflection on their making of a promotional free game to promote sales of the full version on the App Store.

The creators always had a problem with demo and free versions of games and it turned them off of the idea. They decided to go ahead with it and apparently the following talk by Matt Rix (Trainyard) greatly impacted their approach to making the free version.

Part 1 of Rix’s talk:

Part 2:

We determined the following principles:

  • Don’t do anything that would make the people who bought the paid version regret their purchase. The free version should complement the pay one, and theoretically co-exist side by side on the player’s device.
  • Don’t do anything that would make a person regret buying the paid version AFTER playing the free version.
  • I recently had a negative experience with an iPad game where I played 12 levels of the demo, bought it, and then had to play through those same identical 12 levels. I regretted buying it, and I did not want to spend hours redoing my previous progress. I didn’t bother to play the pay version. (InApp purchase obviously solves this.)

Read the full reflection at

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