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Ethics of free to play games

Ethics of free to play games






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    Ethics of free to play games Ethics of free to play games Presentation Transcript

    • Whales, True Fans and the Ethics of Free-to-Play Nicholas Lovell GAMESbrief Develop Liverpool November 24th 2011
    • Nicholas Lovell, GAMESbrief • Author, How to Publish a Game • Director, GAMESbrief • Clients include Atari, Channel 4, Channelflip, Firefly, IPC, nDream s, Rebellion and Square Enix • @nicholaslovell / @gamesbrief
    • Subscribe to the blog
    • Show offer: Get 80% off • Go to www.gamesbrief.com/store • Enter code DEVELOP • Get How to Publish a GAME for 80% off: • Digital: £99 £19.80 • Physical: £149 £29.90 • Both: £149 £29.90
    • Q1: Are free-to-play games evil?
    • Q1: Are free-to-play games evil? Interactive options:  Yes 14%  No 86%
    • Q2: Is Zynga evil?
    • Q2: Is Zynga evil? Interactive options:  Yes 46%  No 54%
    • Q3: Is Tiny Tower evil?
    • Q3: Is Tiny Tower evil? Interactive options:  Yes 10%  No 30%  What’s Tiny Tower? 60%
    • Q4: Is the National Lottery evil?
    • Q4: Is the National Lottery evil? Interactive options:  Yes 35%  No 65%
    • Free has been hugely successful • Zynga: • filed its S-1 • $600m + in revenues • Valuation expected >$10bn • Tiny Tower: • 2 men, four months • Currently #12 in the top grossing chart • Conservative estimate: $3m revenue in first 12 months • (PS: # 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 are free too) • Bigpoint • €200 million in revenue • €650 million valuation
    • Free is a marketing technique• Free means you have a lower barrier to entry• Free means more people try your game• Free gives you players; players are potential customers• It’s all about the conversion from free users to revenue generating users• If you are not free, you are competing with free • Advertising-funded • Pirated • Free from someone else
    • The price/demand curve • In an era of physicalPRICE distribution, you need to set a single price • For games, around $40 “It’s great value, I’d have paid much more” “That’s too expensive for me” Demand
    • Now we let users set the price • Hypothesis: Allow users to choose howPRICE much they spend on your product, and your revenues will go up  DDO revenues up 500%  LOTRO and Everquest II showed a similar story $3 $5 $5 $1 $5 $3 $10 MMO $3 $3 $3 $1 $5 subscription Demand
    • WRONG!
    • Allowing users to choose how little to payis not the secret • We all knew that 95% of users played forPRICE free • We now know that 80-90% of revenues come from 0.5% of users  Spending $50 - $10,000 or more Demand Paying: 5% Free: 95% 80-90% of revenue from 0.5% of users
    • Making it pay • The 10th Drone from DarkOrbit • Sells for €1,000 • 2,000 sold • That’s €2 million in revenue • In 4 days!
    • The Nine Inch Nails Example Ghosts I – IV Ultra Deluxe Edition: $300PRICE Ghosts I – IV Deluxe Edition: $75 Ghosts I – IV physical: $10 Ghosts I – IV digital: $5 Ghosts I: $0 Demand
    • The rule of 0-1-100• Make it enjoyable for people to play for free for ever• Make it easy for people to spend $1• Make it possible for people to spend $100 per month
    • An iOS example: Pocket Frogs
    • An iOS example: Pocket Frogs
    • NO
    • F2P = evil (or not)• The business model is designed to take money from you • So is the coin-op, or the MMO, or the DLC • Games are a business – we should always remember that• Some people spend lots of money on it • You get lots of content for free • Instead of paying for access, you pay for the experience that you VALUE• They’re not real games • Grow up. • Oh, and the games will grow up too• They don’t have enough skill / fairness / challenge • Well don’t play them then • Just because you don’t like them, doesn’t mean they are evil
    • Some valid concerns• How much money is it ethical to take from a single player, in a single month?• Are microtransactions appropriate for children?• Are there certain games that aren’t suited to free-to-play • I say no • There may be some players who aren’t suited to microtransactions• Free-to-play games that are just operant conditioning chambers (“Skinner boxes”) are likely to stop working
    • Beware marshmallow eaters
    • Whales versus true fans• True fans spend money because of what you do• Whales spend money because of who they are• This is not a perfect distinction• Make high-value content and consumables THAT YOU BELIEVE IN• Hold your head up high
    • Avoid buyer’s remorse
    • Conclusion• Free-to-play doesn’t have to be exploitative• Sell things that players value – these don’t have to be expensive to make• Be generous• Seek out true fans, not whales• Make games you can be proud of
    • Thank you nicholas@gamesbrief.com Follow my blog www.gamesbrief.com Buy my booksDEVELOP (until Friday 11 pm)