Wired's Game|Life published a great article on freemium games - games which are free to download and play (mostly on mobile phones), but have in-game bonuses that the player may buy. Some games take the time honored website model of in-content-advertising to the extreme by:
selling eyeballs to advertisers instead of selling games to gamers.
For my money (or eyeballs, if you will), here are some key properties of a successful free-to-play experience:
- Free games are "safe" downloads - the only initial investment from the user is time. If they like it, they keep playing. It's an economy of interest.
- Players can spend money to save time - buy buying things that they could otherwise earn with an investment of hours. Games fail when what they sell cheapens gameplay, however.
Some games that have created a successful FtP model include Tiny Tower (on iOS), Packrat on Facebook, Bejeweled Blitz on iOS or Facebook, and League of Legends on Windows.
Tags: economics gaming marketing