If a game is given out for free, how does it make any money? Back in 2009, a strong PC soccer management simulation franchise, Championship Manager, decided to put up a ‘pay what you want’ offer for their latest game: the studio didn’t continue the series on PC after that.
As so much time and money goes into game development, offering your creation for free can be a very risky strategy – or so you’d think. In the modern age of gaming, many developers have found success by offering free ways to play games and games that are entirely free to play. After seeing the impact of the word ‘free’ being on certain titles, it’s easy to see why many more developers and publishers are taking risks.
The freemium model isn’t going anywhere
Many PC and console gamers write off mobile games as not being proper games. In fairness, many of them are very shallow, based around the principles of freemium gaming – in which players are hit by time walls to slow progression, but which can be removed by paying real money each time. However, mobile gaming revenues exceed that of any other platform, accounting for 45 percent of the industry and $68.5 billion in revenue, per techcrunch.com.
As opposed to paying rather hefty sums of money to get a console and then games, mobile gaming is easily accessible as everyone has a phone and the games are free to download. Playing the game for free, gamers are happy to pay up the $1.99 now and then to speed up progression. The same ideologies have started to breach the boundaries of console and computer gaming, with Investopedia.com reporting that the absurdly successful Fortnite reaped $1.2 billion in its first ten months and $2.4 billion in its second year.
Some gamers don’t like the way that mobile freemium tactics have entered into other gaming platforms, but still appreciate the appeal of free gaming. Knowing this, other developers have started to embrace an old technique that embraces both free and premium gaming models.
It’s retro, but people love it
Before the internet properly caught on, the best way for people to discover what game they wanted to play next was through demo discs. Often coming with the game magazines or along with new releases, demos were the perfect gateway for players to experience new games and decide if they want to buy the games.
The first of the new age of game platforms to readopt this strategy was those in iGaming. Everyone knows that at online casinos, you pay per play. So, to help make the experience much more accessible, developers removed the need to pay to play, with the free slotscalendar.com offering the chance for players to try demos of the most popular slot games so that they can try before they put down real money. It has helped players to understand if they want to play certain slots as well as which ones boast preferable volatility ratings.
Perhaps the most innovative console ever created, the Nintendo Switch not only sells itself through the hybrid hardware but also its expansive game library that offers so many ways to play for free. Not only are there free titles, but they also offer demo versions of a huge range of their biggest games, as you can see at nintendo.com.
Offering a demo is a sure-fire way to increase a game’s potential audience at and after launch. It’s a free way for players to interact with the title, meaning that they don’t just have to go off of advertising slots and the front cover to decide – which makes the choice to put down hard cash a lot easier.
Gamers love to play for free, but revenues and unit sales across free games and games with demos are indicating that those who get into a game for free or try a game for free often commit money to it at some point down the line. As such, the free play looks set to become even more prevalent and influential across the many forms of gaming.