The gaming sector has undergone significant changes over the course of its history, with many of those advances concerning hardware performance and graphics. But those evolutions tell only part of the story, particularly during the last decade. One big change is the way that games are monetized by developers and paid for by consumers. It has altered significantly with the introduction of free-to-play and “freemium” titles.
By mapping this change to the industry, we looked at how this format is currently being utilised across mobile gaming as well as the impact it’s had.
From the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System, standard pricing across the industry has remained steady for large periods in the history of console gaming. New release games have typically been priced between £50 and £70. Some special editions of games, including downloadable versions that include extra features can be priced higher, but the average cost to the consumer has remained roughly the same. In addition, these prices usually drop significantly in the months and years following a release.
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This pricing model has worked well for the industry for around three decades. However, new releases are increasingly being built around the provision of the game itself at no initial cost to the player.
Naturally, the idea of a game being free-to-play can be enticing to a customer. The player can begin engaging with the product more quickly and at no cost. The key obstacle of cost, which is a major consideration for younger players or those without much disposable income, can quite literally be a game-changer.
But of course, developers and publishers aren’t in the habit of giving away everything for nothing. So, unsurprisingly, there are often limitations around what parts of the game a player can access for free. Typically, the free version of the game would offer enough to entertain a player for a limited time. Without giving too much away, the player is encouraged to make a purchase in order to enjoy the full experience.
Games released on mobile helped blaze a trail for the free-to-play format, with thousands of titles released to players for free and in-game add-ons available to purchase. This model has proved to be very lucrative and many genres within the sector have experimented with the idea, including puzzle-solving and battle royal games as well as casual gaming.
Traditionally synonymous with paying deposits to play, even the online casino industry has embraced the idea. A growing number of casino platforms are offering players the chance to enjoy the games for free, without making a deposit. This is something of a departure from what the industry at large has traditionally offered players and shows the widespread influence and effects of free-to-play games.
There are, of course, those who wish to make a wager. As the customer journey therefore typically starts with a deposit, the casino sector pays very close attention to safe transactions online. This has been a key consideration for the industry for many years. If you navigate to this website you will learn a little more about the platforms and the methods they use, including Paysafe, which utilises a 16-digit code for added security.
Console and PC
Console and PC gaming has enjoyed its own foray into the world of free-to-play, with several major titles being delivered on this basis. For example, battle arena game Fortnite is completely free to play, with the only add-ons available to players being cosmetic, such as skins, costumes, and accessories which don’t improve performance.
Other games, like Pro Evolution Soccer, now release ‘Lite’ versions, which allow players to play matches for free. However, the selection of teams is strictly limited and the settings aren’t very customizable, so there’s still a strong incentive to buy the full version.
Free-to-play gaming has undoubtedly become a major part of the sector, operating alongside the traditional pay model. It will be fascinating to observe how the marketplace evolves in the coming years and decades to adapt and further implement this already successful format.