The Freemium/Gambling Business Model and How to Improve It

The business model is NO different to gambling.

Create a desire to win and collect (much easier with characters loved by a wide audience, like Star Wars). Move & adjust the goalposts. Charge people as much as they can/want to pay to win.

A very few whales drop four figures that pay for the whole game. Another fraction spends $1 - $50 bucks. The largest fraction does not spend money. Developers cater to whales. Welcome to freemium.

A couple of questions for the forum:

1- Whatever happened to paying $40 - $60 bucks for a game off the shelf and playing it to your heart's content? The feeling of constantly being tempted to win faster by paying is annoying and many players end up feeling frustrated or upset that the game is explicitly not a level playing field. The difference between paying X dollars for Star Wars KOTOR and this freemium is that the devs incentives are different. In a full package game, the incentive is to give you a full/complete gaming experience, defined that as you will, often with a sense of closure. With freemium, the incentive is to keep you hooked and maximize ongoing profits (i.e. $100 pack available the same week as movie opening catering to the over-excited, likely under-age fan who will act on an impulse).

Follow up to 1 - People will say, "Well, that's the world we live in. The market has taken us to freemium." And my response would be: Will the gamer community ever ask for a fully developed game (hopefully Star Wars related!) where you would pay a fair price for it upfront and not need to worry about moving goal posts for in-app purchases?" What happened to a free demo version and then pay once for full price? Didn't work?

2- Will this gambling freemium model ever get regulated? How can people spend four figures on a cell-phone app that can easily (and almost explicitly) be gambling? It targets and tempts the same mental processes that cause gambling addictions. Gambling is fine, except that you gotta be over 21 to gamble at casinos...

Follow up to 2 - People will say, "What do you care if I can afford it." Wrong. This is not about how much four figures represents to your wealth/income. This is about aggressive tactics aimed at younglings designed to motivate you, then frustrate you, then present you with an answer in the way of spending more money. Many schemes follow similar patterns.

Finally, people will say "Well, this is the game that's being offered. If you don't like it, don't play it". Hey, sure. Peace and love, man. Funny part is that I do enjoy the game, login daily and have spent $1-$50 bucks on it and don't regret it. At the end, what I seek is the conversation and better games in the future. And yes, maybe a sense of closure at the endgame for this one.

Replies

  • Okay........So how do we improve it as the title stated???

    I only read about your opinion as to why they do it and that is pretty clear in a nutshell, MONEY!!!!
    The New Rebellion
    Guild Founder
  • Just a comment on your first point. This is rarely true of console games anymore, either. I view DLC as the bane of gaming. Once companies saw people will pay money for new maps in a MP shooter, the floodgates opened to what we have now.
  • Telaan
    3454 posts Member
    Just a comment on your first point. This is rarely true of console games anymore, either. I view DLC as the bane of gaming. Once companies saw people will pay money for new maps in a MP shooter, the floodgates opened to what we have now.

    This is very true. However in the non-mobile world you typically get way more bang for your buck. That's what people are really railing against. When you combine the gambling, with the low odds of "winning" (for lack of a better term), with the low return on investment for packs it makes for a very unhappy player base that begins to feel used.

    When that happens, people lose faith in the future development in the game and leave. This leaves less potential income for the game, which leads to a loss in revenue, which leads to less content, which leads to a loss of more players. The cycle continues until the game shuts down.

    I think most reasonable people recognize an income has to be made. But the pricing model needs to be fair and reasonable as well.
  • Free to play business model is the bane of the video game industry. What you're referring to is usually tied to a neurotransmitter imbalance. A deficiency in either Serotonin, Dopamine, or both. These people will and do have impulse control issues. They are also more likely to seek instant gratification. These impulse control issues are also exhibited in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    While I do spend money to support developers, I disagree with the business model. I have written my congressmen and sign every petition I encounter to ban IAP and the like.

    These games aren't much different from the now defunct senior citizen video parlors which were rightfully outlawed. Charge a fair price for your product one time and be done with it. Unfortunately, mobile gaming has proven to be extremely lucrative in the current form. As for money, there's never enough for the top 1%
  • Free to play business model is the bane of the video game industry. What you're referring to is usually tied to a neurotransmitter imbalance. A deficiency in either Serotonin, Dopamine, or both. These people will and do have impulse control issues. They are also more likely to seek instant gratification. These impulse control issues are also exhibited in people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    While I do spend money to support developers, I disagree with the business model. I have written my congressmen and sign every petition I encounter to ban IAP and the like.

    These games aren't much different from the now defunct senior citizen video parlors which were rightfully outlawed. Charge a fair price for your product one time and be done with it. Unfortunately, mobile gaming has proven to be extremely lucrative in the current form. As for money, there's never enough for the top 1%

    Yes, I agree with you there. OP just made me think about console games and what sad state it's in with DLC. I learned the hard way on a game I played several months ago that IAP, especially random pack purchases, are really getting out of control. I quit the game cold turkey, so to speak, because I knew to even keep up with where I was I'd have to keep spending non stop.

    While not a whale in that game, I spent a substantial amount, with $900 for one event my peak. I'll never buy a pack again because you can get lucky or you can spend a grand and be left with nothing.

  • Telaan wrote: »
    This is very true. However in the non-mobile world you typically get way more bang for your buck. That's what people are really railing against. When you combine the gambling, with the low odds of "winning" (for lack of a better term), with the low return on investment for packs it makes for a very unhappy player base that begins to feel used.

    When that happens, people lose faith in the future development in the game and leave. This leaves less potential income for the game, which leads to a loss in revenue, which leads to less content, which leads to a loss of more players. The cycle continues until the game shuts down.

    I think most reasonable people recognize an income has to be made. But the pricing model needs to be fair and reasonable as well.

    Part of the reason for my gripe is that I like the game just fine but see the future of SWGOH not lasting as long as anyone would like. I can see this unfolding for the worse and this game becoming abandoned in the near future if they don't change the pricing. If you guys like building up characters and resources for nothing, debate my point and call me crazy. My argument benefits all players and EA.

    I know, everyone looks at EA's balance sheet and says they're geniuses and all but this isn't genius here. To me, this looks like a corporate team deciding pricing when they don't understand the game, what the users want, don't listen to testers or customers, all because they believe they know how to make the numbers. They may make bank here in the end with all the ads they'll definitely start pushing soon but they could be far more successful. This isn't food or shelter, things people need to survive, this is a game.

    Looking at how their going, I'm so happy I didn't buy a thing right now so I saved myself a future rant when things go haywire...
    The New Rebellion
    Guild Founder
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