Should Smartphone Game Developers make Free or Paid titles?
Before gaming on the mobile got big, people used to go pay for a physical copy from the local games store and play at home. That was all there was to it in the “good old days”. These were the days when CDs and eventually DVDs were king. Internet speeds weren’t quite as fast and online services delivery was still in its infancy.
But as we all have come to know, technology is evolving at a breakneck pace. It has made so much possible in so less a time that the old ways of doing things are no more applicable anymore.
The same goes for the games industry. After the debut of the App Store for the iPhone 5 years ago, the games industry went over a tech Renaissance of sorts. Gaming on mobile smartphone OS went on to become a big juggernaut – and ‘casual gamers’ became the norm. You didn’t need to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and many other mobile gaming hits. Everybody and their grandma were glued to their smartphone games like ducks to a pond.
Why Mobile Games are Exploding in Popularity?
The major reason why mobile gaming became mainstream is the widespread adoption of the free-to-play model in the mobile industry. Smartphone game developers make addictive games and recoup their costs by either displaying ads or integrating in-app purchasing (IAP) model in their titles. This model has made game development studios such as Rovio Mobile and Imangi Studios into financial powerhouses. Some games and game development companies however, are not sold with this ‘freemium’ model. How they make do is by selling their games for a nominal price. Like Terry Cavanagh, creator of the puzzle smash hit Super Hexagon, for instance:
“I think I’m doing just fine by selling games as whole, complete things,” Cavanagh says.
His iOS game has gone on to sell 300,000 for $0.99 in the very first week alone. When done right, even the paid game model works.
Smartphone game developers be advised. In the end, it all boils down to a couple of factors that will ultimately determine game your monetization model. Free is great but don’t let it compromise your game design. Making the perfect game that people are going to love is the first and foremost step. Only when game development wraps up and testing done should you proceed to brainstorm some revenue generation ideas.
A game is only as good as its design and replayabilty rate after all.