Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Freemium Gaming

John B. Marine | 9/20/2017 11:00:00 PM | |
Play premier games for free! That is... until you realize you may need to pay to be fully competitive or beat the game. Welcome to "freemium" games. These are free to play, but some coin "pay to win" to beat them. Customization and boosts in most games are also the norm with freemium games. How do I feel about such games on the market? You are about to find out in my blog post regarding freemium games.

Freemium Gaming at a Glance

Real Racing 3 freemium game
^ from: - Real Racing 3, which I reviewed in my "John's Race Space" blog, is an example of a "freemium" game. Shouldn't free games REMAIN free?

I recently reviewed a "freemium" game on my racing/driving game blog, "John's Race Space"- Real Racing 3. The concept of a freemium game is for gamers to play high-quality games wihout having to purchase extra material to enhance the experience. A lot of games can be completed without having to purchase anything. However, a lot of games may require your own money whether from your hard money or from digital money. A game that is free-to-play is free; but as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as a free lunch." The experience is never completely free. If your goal is to beat a game, and if doing so means having to purchase extra material, the free game isn't entirely FREE now, is it?

Games that are offered for free are inviting. Freemium games are there so that you don't feel like you have to download a free demo to play. In a way, freemium games are reminiscent of shareware games of the 1990s for PC. Only difference is that these free games feature the full game and not entirely bound to being a glorified trial.

Understanding Freemium Games: An Analogy.

Let me give you an analogy to explain the concept of freemium games. It would be like me offering you my blog to read with and interact with. If you wanted to access some of my unique content or some exclusive content, you would have to pay to access those services. This would mean that you would have to pay credits to view certain topics I post or to access certain material, though the majority of content is offered for free.

"Pay to Win."

People call it "pay to win" in which you have to spend money on a free game to really be competitive. These are for times where to beat the core game and all of its objectives, you need to purchase extra in-game material.

How Should Freemium Gaming Be Handled?

Is it possible for games to be completely free to where you can complete the game without needing to spend money for extra content or to gain the edge? I think a free game should remain free to where you don't need to purchase extra content just to clear the base game.

You have to look at games much like some of your favorite subscription services or something. You may have to pay a one-time fee to be able to enjoy certain services or features. You may need to pay a certain subscription to be able to enjoy the content you want to use and enjoy. As unfair as it is to have to pay for things that should be free, games and such are entities and businesses. People have to come up with some sort of way to make income or revenue for their work despite the fact they are offered for free. Most of the time, a lot of the in-app purchases are non-essential material and completely optional.

A case where a game can be free to play but have to be purchased to fully enjoy it and beat it, you have to look at the model provided from the OUYA and its lineup of games. A lot of games have in-app purchases to where you can unlock the full game to be able to play and complete the full game. Again- these are not ENTIRELY free; and to beat them, you will need to make purchases. Such games are pretty much glorified game trials, only not considered trials. Another example of a "glorified demo" would be a game like "Minecraft: Story Mode." You get the first episode free, but you have to pay for playing extra episodes.

A few times, some of the in-app purchases are not in-app purchases at all- some are mostly in case you want to donate to the developer(s). I think this is the safest and most appreciative aspect of implementing in-app purchases. You get a game for free and maybe want to show your support by offering a donation. To me, this is a case where "freemium" is a great thing. You aren't paying to access extra content or gain an advantage, but you are rather making in-app purchases to simply provide a donation. Almost like giving a tip after a meal at a restaurant. And again- it is completely optional. This is perhaps the smartest way to do in-app purchases without feeling like you wanting to rip people off. You allow loyal and respectful persons to donate so you can help the developer(s) out in making more content or maybe helping their financial needs.

Now it is time I offer some final thoughts in regards to freemium gaming.

Freemium Gaming: Final Thoughts

It doesn't seem fair to have a free game and feel compelled to buy things to be competitive or access certain features. It may sound greedy to have to pay things in a "free" game to stand the best chance, but there are two schools of thought here. Some tasks can be overly difficult in trying to unlock everything. Gaming- like most other creative works- is a business. We wish we can do everything for free, but there has to be some sort of way to seek benefits and profit from our work. The sad reality goes back to an earlier statement- "there is no such thing as a free lunch." To be really competitive, people would feel gypped into having to pay for elements in a game acquired for free. If the game is free to play, why not keep it free and not have to purchase things? I see it more as a business deal. A freemium game that is great is one that doesn't REQUIRE you to purchase extra material to enjoy it or to add more material. If you want to be smart, provide the best quality game and not charge people to gain extra material. Or if you want to be smart, offer as complete a game as possible and offer the option to donate to the developer(s) for future development or to help them live happier lives. Gaming is a business no matter how you look at it. That, sadly, includes free-to-play games that aren't entirely free if you want to be competitive. It is a sad gaming reality that makes perfect sense in the grand scheme of things.

Feel free to express your thoughts here or even respond to discussion questions like this:

What do you think about "freemium" gaming? What are your favorite "freemium" games?

Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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