The online gaming industry is an increasingly competitive one with start-ups pushing the major players in the field which, in turn, is driving innovation and development.
What such competition also drives is a rush to mop up as much market share as possible, so that a gaming company with big ambitions actually has the customer base it requires to launch itself into new projects.
While there are many ways of going about establishing that robust and loyal customer base, when it comes to gaming there is one particular technique that has for years been leaving others eating its dust. That is, of course, the free-to-play model.
In this article we look at exactly how and why this client acquisition strategy continues to pay dividends for those who employ it, such as PlayStation, Epic Games and many more.
Fortnite was one of the trailblazers when it came to launching free-to-play games into the mainstream
Free-to-Play Model Lets New Players Sample Fresh and Exciting Games
One of the reasons that the free-to-play model has been so successful in the world of online gaming is because it is not only a good way to show a proof of concept, but also because it can attract huge swathes of players to a new game, who then over time can be transitioned over into games they pay for.
Of course, the benefits work both ways, with gamers reaping the benefits of games being free, allowing them to sample a new open-world setting, Texas Hold’em Poker variant, or battle royale, meaning a player can test things out and get a feel for an online card game without having to part with any hard-earned money.
If the player enjoyed his or her team-based melee, poker ring game, or open-world adventure then they are free to delve deeper into what their chosen gaming company offers.
For the gaming company the hope is that the free versions of the games they produce are playable enough that they retain the players they attracted and migrate them over into more advanced and complex games that require a monthly subscription or a pre-tournament buy-in.
It is a tried and tested model that shows no sign of slowing up anytime soon.
There are many fantasy RPG games which are free to play, with lots being excellent additions to the genre despite being gratis
A Few Free Months or Levels Equates to Long Term Profits
While some free games such as poker, Fortnite, or COD: Warzone, have managed to strike the right balance between offering things for free and charging for additional benefits, there are other games that have been altogether more aggressive in their pursuit of customers who are willing to pay for things almost immediately.
This has irritated many gamers to the point that they have abandoned a game altogether, unwilling to put up with annoying pop-ups, adverts, and having their gaming experience interrupted by badly timed requests for payment.
However, most gaming companies now have the balance just right, only politely requesting payment from their clients once the customer feels it is justified.
Games Companies Have Multiple Revenue Streams
The other reason that companies can afford to launch free-to-play games is because the days of revenue only coming from the initial buying of a game are well and truly gone.
Games companies now have multiple revenue streams which include product placement in their gaming titles, all the way through to incremental in-game purchases for everything from merchandise to in-game weapons upgrades or avatar skins.
The Rise of In-Game Currencies
Allied to the previous point about in-game purchases, more and more games – as well as the streaming platforms they are increasingly available through – are now taking cues from cryptocurrency markets, as they go about developing their very own currencies, which can only be used on their products and around the interfaces of their games.
Some examples of this are ‘Play Money’ as offered by sites like PokerStars India and ‘COD Points’ that were dreamed up by Activision.