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Free to Play: Evolved - Aki Järvinen - Grand Cru


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The free to play business model has transformed the game industry in recent years, and continues to do so. This shift has occurred so rapidly that anticipating future permutations appears impossible, yet in order to evolve and further expand the audience, that is exactly what F2P game developers need to do. Aki Järvinen has worked through the change with a number of titles under his belt. He argues that we can learn by looking back at the F2P shift and chart its evolution through a number of both successful and failed examples. Aki will offer insights into the evolution of F2P, and point at future directions where you could take your product in terms of game design and monetization techniques.

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Free to Play: Evolved - Aki Järvinen - Grand Cru

  1. 1. Free to Play: Evolved Aki Järvinen, Product Lead, Ph.D.
  2. 2. Aki’s dev path
  3. 3. One headline here •Exciting text goes here
  4. 4. How has F2P evolved?
  5. 5. Agenda F2P History F2P Shortcomings Free vs Paid Evolved vs Devolved F2P Evolved
  6. 6. Crash Course to F2P History
  7. 7. F2P Games Timeline •1997-2007: ‘The MMO Era’ Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands launches 1997 NeoPets launches 1999 RuneScape launches 2001 MapleStory launches 2003 Kart Rider launches 2004
  8. 8. F2P Games Timeline •2008-9: ‘Facebook Era’ EA launches Play4Free with Battlefield Heroes 2008 League of Legends launches 2009 Kingdoms of Camelot launches on Facebook 2009Happy Farm launches in China 2008 Mob Wars making $22K a day on Facebook 2008 Mafia Wars by Zynga is launched on Facebook 2008 FarmVill e launches on Facebook 2009 2009D&D Online goes F2P & triples the revenue
  9. 9. F2P Games Timeline •2010- ‘The App Era’ SingStar F2P reboot 2013 CityVille; Zynga’s profitable year 2010 Backyard Monsters launches on Facebook 2010 ‘Mighty Eagle’ appears in Angry Birds (December) 2010 World of Tanks launces 2011 Team Fortress 2 goes F2P; 12X revenues 2011 Candy Crush Saga launches (Facebook; iOS) 2012 Clash of Clans launches (June) CSR Racing launches (June) Puzzle & Dragons launches
  10. 10. F2P Game Genres Timeline •Which genres have embraced F2P? MMORPGs 1997 Virtual Pets 1999 Racing 2004 Shooter, Farming 2008 MOBA, 4X, RTS 2009 City sim, Hidden object 2012 Match-3 Infinite Runner 2010
  11. 11. F2P Monetization Timeline •How have virtual goods evolved? Skills & Gear 1997 Currencies Resources, Consumable s Decorative items Premium Ammo 2013 Energy
  12. 12. Core vs Surface F2P Models •Surface: sell more content •Volume (downloads) matters •Core: sell virtual goods •Lifetime value matters
  13. 13. Agenda F2P History F2P Shortcomings Free vs Paid Evolved vs Devolved F2P Evolved
  14. 14. Giving F2P a Bad Name
  15. 15. Giving F2P a Bad Name •Failed Economy
  16. 16. Giving F2P a Bad Name •Bad Design •F2P ‘Devolved’ •Rises from insecurity regarding the quality of the game
  17. 17. Giving F2P a Bad Name •Pay to Win •Alienating non- paying players •Yet, there should be also a benefit for those who pay
  18. 18. Agenda F2P History F2P Failures Free vs Paid Evolved vs Devolved F2P Evolved
  19. 19. Free Fun vs Paid Fun
  20. 20. The F2P Defense Argument •“Free to play is more fair (than, e.g. a $60 console title) to the customer, because they can decide if they pay, and how much they pay.”
  21. 21. The F2P Defense Argument •But... •This only holds true, if the game supports it’s premise: •the more you pay, •... the more fun and engaging the game becomes!
  22. 22. Spending = Fun/Convenience ++ •“Ultimately the whole structure of the game must be as much about having an enjoyable experience as well as being able to make the experience more enjoyable by injecting money, with the knowledge that the more money you put into the game the more it becomes enjoyable.”’
  23. 23. Flipside: accommodating non-payers •Case: World of Tanks •Answers: Yes. And Yes.
  24. 24. Agenda F2P History F2P Failures Free vs Paid Evolved vs Devolved F2P Evolved
  25. 25. F2P evolution • ‘Devolved’ • Pay to win • Aggressive merchandizing; bad design • ‘Time to shop’ < 60s • Excessively whale-driven • Spending exhausts engagement • Evolved • Grind & master to compete • Clear value proposition; good design • Shop that solves player needs which arise organically • Whale-accommodating • Engagement relative to spending
  26. 26. F2P Evolved Monetization Engagement Retention Fun
  27. 27. Make Better Games! •= The Challenge remains the same! •It is in every F2P developers interests to evolve F2P, not devolve it!
  28. 28. Let’s not give F2P a Bad Name!
  29. 29. Thank you!