"Free to PAY" - an experiment to honestly monetize the game

    What emotions does the term free-to-play evoke in you?

    There is nothing wrong with the monetization model itself. Moreover, in the general case, free-to-play is more convenient for both the player and the developer. Problems begin when the game requires more money than you are willing to spend on it or does it too obsessively, clumsily, dishonorably.

    Large companies cannot afford to risk investing money and experiment with monetization. They just implement what works, even if you have to make a deal with conscience.

    But what if you are a small independent developer, with a small budget and moderate ambitions? If you do not want (and can not) make an endless game-as-a-service? If you hate advertising and first of all want to make a good game, and consider the possible income from the game more as a pleasant bonus?

    In my new game I realized something new, in three words it can be called Free-to-pay.


    I propose a radical, risky (and someone will say “naive”) approach, the essence of which is in the title: “free-to-pay”, that is, the player is free to pay, but the game does not try to persuade him to this:
    - All the content is initially available for free and is tied exclusively to the in-game economy
    - Only the fan of the game and nothing more: no energy, artificial timers, payvols and premium content
    - No advertising
    - But when the game ends we politely ask the player to pay.


    Yes, it sounds utopian, but I have arguments:

    - I’m sure it happened to everyone that after getting to know a quality product, the thought “Well done, guys! Where can you bring money here? ” My goal is to become "these guys." But if we begin to show ads, obsessively hint at paid content or make a mediocre game, then such magic will not work.
    - 2-5% of players pay in games, you won’t make everyone else pay with any tricks. At the same time, you can easily scare away those who pay with the same tricks. And so - everyone is happy.
    - because we ask for money only at the end of the game, then you can be sure that the player is loyal and he likes the game
    - there is no point in piracy, so you do not lose a single potential player
    - micropayments in the game will remain so as not to infringe on the rights of players who want to "pay not to play"
    - there is an opportunity to reach out to those players who usually do not pay in games, but they will consider this situation fair
    - when you feel human developers, then I want to tell friends and colleagues about the game, I want to support, reciprocate, I want more such products!


    But, of course, this alone will not work. It is not enough just to make a free game from start to finish and expect at least some payments. You need to convey your thoughts to the player, hint that you are coming to meet him, but count on reciprocity:
    - To say at the beginning of the game that everything is free and without advertising, but “we will return to this question when you complete the game, ok?”
    - To remind at the end of the game that to pay for your favorite gaming experience would be fair.

    Yes, it’s obvious that potentially on the same amount of traffic, I’ll earn less than if I pressed on the players and squeezed all the juices out of them. But it is also obvious that making tight monetization, it is difficult to count on a large audience, word of mouth and the love of the players. If you need to choose between the number of players and the size of the average check, then I choose the first.

    Why might this work?

    So why do I find this approach acceptable in my case?
    - I'm small and independent, I have a modest budget, which is not afraid to take risks
    - there should also be flexibility to experiment
    - the game can fully go for a couple of hours, which means that there is a good time to talk to the player "from the heart"
    - deliberately adult target audience (a feature of the game)
    - unlike large studios, I have different success criteria, different scales; there is no goal to earn a lot, to earn at least something - it’s already success
    - the response of the audience is more important to me than commercial success


    So far, I can’t say that this will work and most likely my arguments did not convince you. I purposely wrote this flock right after the start of the game, when it is still unclear whether this approach justifies my expectations. All the more interesting! You can make a bet, check your insight - I suggest everyone to make their own forecasts in the spirit of “shoot / not shoot” and check their predictions in a month or two, when it becomes clear whether the described strategy worked.

    I also wanted to open access to all statistics, so that anyone could see in real time whether his predictions are coming true, but the Game Analytics that I use does not allow me to do this (I wrote them in support - they promised to think).

    In the meantime, make your bets, gentlemen:

    UPD: a month has passed since the launch of the game, the results of the experiment can be found here in a new article: megamozg.ru/post/14408

    UPD2: another 4 months have passed - we managed to recapture the costs due to video advertising. Read more here: megamozg.ru/company/anvilgames/blog/18710

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    Free-to-pay - a viable game monetization model?

    • 26.8% Yes, everything will turn out (within expectations and assumptions) 275
    • 37% You will earn something, but obviously less than if you had tightened the nuts 379
    • 24.1% No, it will be a failure and striving for 0 earnings 247
    • 1% Custom (in the comments) 11
    • 10.9% View 112 results

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