Freemium games have more or less taken over the iOS App Store. They are everywhere these days, and some of them make tons and tons of cash. And those almighty dollar signs have encouraged gaming developers to move to the freemium model.
The latest gaming company to get sucked into making free to play games only is Gameloft. The company recently tweeted that it would no longer produce premium games, and that all its future games would be free to play.
This is a major bummer for gamers like me who prefer to pay outright for a complete game, instead of being nickel and dimed to death by annoying in-app purchases in freemium games. I hate having to pay for in-game items and abilities just to complete a game or compete at a high level.
iOS gamers have no one to blame but themselves for the freemium mess
But who’s really at fault here? It would be easy to lash out at game developers like Gameloft, but they are just going with their money is and I can’t say I blame them. Game developers aren't running charities, they have to make a profit to remain in business and keep making more games.
Many iOS gamers have also made it clear that they don’t want to pay for games if they can avoid it. Quite a lot of them would rather have a “free” game that offers in-app purchases instead of paying for a complete game. Of course the joke is on them since gaming companies end up making lots more money from in-app purchases than they ever did by letting users purchase complete games.
And even if iOS gamers were willing to pay for a complete game, the prices that developers could charge probably still wouldn’t make it a viable business. A lot of gamers are, quite frankly, notoriously cheap when it comes to paying more than a dollar or two for a game on iOS.
Freemium games are why I mostly play on Nintendo’s 3DS
The situation with freemium gaming on iOS has encouraged me to game much more on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system. It’s still possible to buy a great game for the Nintendo 3DS for $20 or $30 and get the entire game, without having to bother with in-app purchases.
Of course Nintendo has also been watching the explosion of freemium games, and it’s first game for iOS uses that very business model. So far the company is raking in $280,000 per week with its Miitomo social game.
So it’s entirely possible that even Nintendo will eventually succumb to the same freemium disease that has infected Gameloft and other iOS developers.
Gameloft’s move to freemium doesn’t sit well with some iOS gamers
I caught the news about Gameloft’s switch to freemium in an article on Touch Arcade, and some of the Touch Arcade readers didn’t pull any punches when sharing their thoughts about it. I’ll leave you with this selection of comments from the article thread:
Schpank: “One more company to ignore.”
Hellscaretaker: “Well the way the market is going you are going to have very little to pick from as I can’t see many making premium games.”
Wizard of Odyssey: “…the numbers don’t lie. If free-to-play with micro transactions are significantly more profitable, that’s where most of the big developers are going to go, assuming there’s not someone propping them up with artificial subsidies…
You know what I like? Free to play games that have a reasonable thing to buy that is actually worth it. A monthly “subscription” purchase that gives you significant value at a low price is pretty much OK. Extorting money to get past a choke point in gameplay designed to take money is just evil. Which will Gameloft choose?”
Theo: “RIP real mobile games.”
Khann: “I can’t blame them. F2P makes so much money. Get them hooked on a free games and cash in. If a dev puts a higher price on their game, you automatically restrict your audience, even if it is a huge game.”
Stetch: “Then Gameloft can go to hell.”
Dlaroc: “Huge disappointment. I remember when Gameloft made some of the best mobile games. Now they’ve fallen to greed. Freemium is the devil. So this means all future Modern Combat games will be complete garbage. The only mobile FPS game worth playing. Not anymore.”
Shining Jade: “Freemium is BS, full of timers, Wifi locked.”
Apolloa: “So it’s grind grind and grind some more then grind and continue to grind, if you don’t want to pay $, and then you’ll not be able to get all the games content without spending real $ anyway. It would be totally fine if the $ you need didn’t equal much more than the RRP of the latest AAA Console game.”
XperimentalZ Games: “Given that Gameloft is under pressure by Vivendi, they’ll probably go for the shortest and most lucrative road on monetization, which mean using proven models.”
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