Free-to-play games are often criticized for being disreputable; coercing or even forcing unsuspecting players to hand over as much money as possible. But that’s not how we see it.
At deltaDNA, we believe that F2P actually puts the power firmly back in the hands of the players; giving them freedom to choose exactly how, when and if they spend their money.
With your typical AAA console game, players pay their $50 or even $60 up front, often before playing any of the game in question. Many players spend a lot of time reading reviews and watching preview videos, but they often have no way of trying the game out for themselves before purchasing.
Not only that, but they may never even complete the game. So their $50 may have only paid for a few levels.
This makes the player powerless. If they can’t get past a certain level, short of going back to the start and changing the difficulty setting, if they can, there’s nothing they can do. Similarly if they just find it dull or uninteresting, they’re still down $50.
However, F2P puts all of the power back into the hands of the players. Firstly, it allows them to try out a game without putting any money down. If they don’t enjoy it, they’ve not lost out. This means that players won’t feel like they need to struggle through a game that they don’t like, just to get their ‘money’s worth’. Instead, they’ll just uninstall the game and move on to one they prefer. It’s not like there’s no other games to choose from!
When it comes to payment, it’s often said that players are ‘forced’ into paying in a F2P game, but players are much smarter than that. Because they haven’t invested any money into buying the game, players won’t think twice about quitting a game for good if they feel forced into paying.
On the upside, if players enjoy your game, then they will be delighted to make purchases in-game, particularly for items that will help their character or base stand out from the crowd.
This all means that developers are under even more pressure to deliver a game that’s engaging straight from the start, they need to put much more thought into on-boarding, so the player comes back the next day, and hopefully really gets into the game.
It’s vital that F2P game developers can balance & personalize their games. The most effective way to do this is through good Player Relationship Management; discovering the different player types in your game, and then ensuring that the game responds to these different players. For example, this could be by providing extra resources to new players who are struggling or upping the difficulty level to challenge the experts.
F2P really does put the power in the hands of players, by not only allowing them to spend as much or as little as they’d like, but also by ensuring that the game suits their individual playing style.