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article imageOp-Ed: How freemium games may become another pump and dump scheme

By Milton Este     Nov 8, 2013 in Technology
Freemium games have soared in popularity as mobile devices and application developers see the potential in this new revenue generation model. At the same time, they have also gained popularity among gamers as they offer free play with a twist.
Freemium games are basically "free" and "premium," or paid, combined all into one. The best way is to illustrate through some examples. Some popular freemium games include Fast and Furious 6: The Game, Deer Hunter 2014, The Simpsons Tap Out, CSR Racing, and many more listed in Google's Play store and and Apple's AppStore.
In case you haven't played any of these games, freemium games are simply games that allow the user to play for free, but if they want exclusive access to upgrades, items, or skill levels, they will have to pay a fee. Let's take the latest example of CSR Racing. In the case of this racing game, fuel will be used for each race the user enters. The user only has a limited amount of fuel and so it will reach a point where the user is out of fuel and will have to wait for the refill. Here is where the "premium" part comes in. Rather than waiting for the fuel, the user can simply purchase a fuel refill.
Of course, these games can belong to any genre, age group, audience, and devices. Nevertheless, they do share this one characteristics and it is in both the developers and gamers' interests to keep it this way.
Freemium games are a huge revenue generator for developers. This is because they are not longer earning money on a per download basis. Each application download generates no revenue. Furthermore, revenues are not generated through premium ad-free upgrades. Why not? Because it makes no sense to. Why should app developers charge a one time fee when they can charge on a per-usage basis?
This leads to the idea that gamers' interests are captured by the free download. Their interest then shifts to frustration as they experience the limitations of "free." This motivates the purchase of additional one time use in-game features such as a full play counter refill. The less patient gamers, the more they will spend on the in-game play refills. As a result, rather than paying a one-time fee, players are constantly shelling out money in order to progress.
This actually introduces a problem. The one time payment for the full game version or ad-free version presents obligations. Purchasers are obligated to keep the game on their devices for as long as possible or else otherwise it would go to waste. Meanwhile, freemium games have the reverse effect. Each additional payment presents the desire to quit as it reinforces the cut of monetary losses. Due to this, freemium games do not last for very long.
Taking a look at a few examples, games such as CSR Racing, The Simpsons: Tap Out, and Deer Hunter 2014 all slipped from their respective top spots. Taking a look at Google's Play store, these games all slipped a few slots from the "Top Free Games" list. A more dramatic slip was probably Fast and Furious 6: The Game. Why? Probably this could be better answered through the lower number of plays between refills and the higher costs associated with in-game gold, mystery boxes, and premium cars. In comparison to CSR Racing, with a greater number of free plays and less paid content, the ranks of top rated games is quite closely related to the balance of "free" and "premium" features.
Due to the faster loss of interest in freemium games, app developers have to constantly come up with new games that will quickly capture interest through the free download and revenue through purchasing progressive in-game features to the point where gamers lose interest after exploring how the game works and wish to discontinue making payments. This formulates the idea of a pump and dump scheme. The "pumping" involves generating hype and interest with the masses and hope for the accumulation of a quick buck. As for dumping, it's quite straightforward. App developers simply move onto the next app that will potentially gain our attention. By doing so, does this emphasize the progress towards quantity and diminishing quality when it comes to app development when it comes to generating revenue?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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