4/22/2013

Premium Vs. Freemium

If you read the title, you probably know what I'm talking about: two of the most discussed models in the mobile gaming world.

In case you don't know what these terms mean, I'll give you a brief explaination.


Premium are games which you buy upfront and play as much as you want (This is what you're used to do if you play console games, or PC games).

Freemium are games which are free, but during gameplay you can purchase virtual currencies, power ups or other goodies which usually let you advance at a faster pace than you normally would. These are called IAPs in the app store (Which stands for In App Purchases).





A quite recent article from App Annie shows that Freemium is generally much more profitable than Premium in the App Store. This means that, strange as it may seem, free apps are making more money than paid apps. Why is that?

I think the reason behind this is that people before iPhone and Android came out weren't really used to pay to get games on their phone. On a console, instead,  it sounds pretty natural to buy a game before you can play it. And it's not suprising that the majority of today's console/PC gamers hate freemium while mobile gamers generally dislike premium: they just want to play on their phone for free and if they like the game they'll end up spending money on IAPs.

The main problem with Freemium is that it's extremely hard to balance. Gameplay may suffer for being too much crippled or slowed down in order to make space for IAPs and players can easily get annoyed and give a bad rating to the game for being too much IAP heavy, even if the developer thought the balance felt quite right.

Another model which is kind of a middle way between Premium and Freemium consists in giving the app for free and offer a "full" version or additional content as IAP. This is what games like Pangolin, RuzzleHardest game ever and many others are doing. I personally believe this kind of IAP is the fairest and I think I will take this route for my next game and see how it goes.


If you have any thoughts as player/developer feel free to leave a comment below! :)

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