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What is with the freemium games on android?

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Please correct me if this is not the right site for such a question.

So basically what I want to ask is how likely a game that is not a clone of successful freemium game likely to survive in the mobile gaming market?

Nearly all top mobile games seem to be on the same bandwagon of stylised cartoony graphics like Clash of clans, even their screenshots follow the same extremely generic labels like "Build your team" ,"Fight epic enemies","Choose your heroes" etc with some character standing on the foreground of the screenshot. It is extremely unoriginal and irritating at times, not to mention they put in the same screenshot over and over , which is a trend all games follow.

Even the giant microsoft is culprit of the same behaviour with its Age of empire:castle seige bearing a icon extremely similar to clash of clans icon , this cannot be coincidence right?

Its quite hard to find a popular game with original idea without pay2win model. I've seen some better games that do not include in app purchases and not made by some million dollar company.
So If I had to make a game , which of the following is more likely to survive the market (or even get some exposure and make decent money):

1. A freemium game with lots of in app purchases and cartoony graphics with children as target audience e.g. CoC clones, endless runners and other generic stuff etc.

2. A game that requires more skill without no in app purchases to progress and non stylised graphics 

Theoretically speaking the biggest fear one'd have is putting a lot of work and time into an original and fun idea , release it to the market and then see it drowned by freemium cashgrabbing clones of it made by multi-million dollar companies that an indie can never compete with.

Sure nobody can own or copyright a game idea but it makes you wonder whether you should put effort on making a genuinely well designed and fun game to see it die before your eyes or just make a mediocre shovelware version of it with pay2win, timers, cartoons and other trending stuff, jump on the bandwagon and earn from it?

 

 

Edited by yash verma

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The answer to your first question is "not likely" and the answer to your other question is obviously '1'. The market is the way that it is because that is what the developers and publishers found generated the money. Freemium is the evolution of 10 years of mobile players and app developers finding an equilibrium. Most mobile gamers won't buy a game without playing it first, most mobile developers don't want to make a game that most people won't pay for, so "play now, pay later" is what we have.

The cartoony graphics aren't 'aimed at children'. It's more a combination of factors - cheaper to produce, more appealing to a wider audience, works better on small screens, etc.

Should you spend a lot of time and effort (and money) on making a traditional pay-once-up-front game and release it on a mobile platform? No. If you want to make a game like that then you're better off aiming at the traditional platforms where the audience is expecting higher prices and higher production values in return. (Steam sales and refunds are eating away at this unfortunately, but that's another matter.)

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16 minutes ago, yash verma said:

So If I had to make a game , which of the following is more likely to survive the market (or even get some exposure and make decent money):

1. A freemium game with lots of in app purchases and cartoony graphics with children as target audience e.g. CoC clones, endless runners and other generic stuff etc.

2. A game that requires more skill without no in app purchases to progress and non stylised graphics 

You are asking if a game that appeals to a wide audience and is free to play will be more likely to be successful than a game that appeals to a core audience and requires up front payment. On Android. When phrased like this, I think the answer is quite obvious.

However, you are missing an important aspect: marketing. Nobody will play game number 1, or even know about it, unless it is heavily advertised and featured prominently on the Play store. I guess you don't have the money or influence to achieve either, therefor you actually have better chances with a niche game that might get a decent following through word of mouth and reviews.

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27 minutes ago, Kylotan said:

The answer to your first question is "not likely" and the answer to your other question is obviously '1'. The market is the way that it is because that is what the developers and publishers found generated the money. Freemium is the evolution of 10 years of mobile players and app developers finding an equilibrium. Most mobile gamers won't buy a game without playing it first, most mobile developers don't want to make a game that most people won't pay for, so "play now, pay later" is what we have.

The cartoony graphics aren't 'aimed at children'. It's more a combination of factors - cheaper to produce, more appealing to a wider audience, works better on small screens, etc.

Should you spend a lot of time and effort (and money) on making a traditional pay-once-up-front game and release it on a mobile platform? No. If you want to make a game like that then you're better off aiming at the traditional platforms where the audience is expecting higher prices and higher production values in return. (Steam sales and refunds are eating away at this unfortunately, but that's another matter.)

hmm, there are other ways to do a "play now, pay later" by say releasing demo versions like old times. However I do agree that cartoony graphics are easier to produce

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1 minute ago, yash verma said:

hmm, there are other ways to do a "play now, pay later" by say releasing demo versions like old times. 

The best practice for this is to have a free app and then have advanced content unlockable via IAP. If you make two apps (demo & real game), any store ratings, rankings and reviews won't be shared, which can only hurt your exposure.

It's also what Nintendo did with their Mario mobile game.

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2 minutes ago, Rattenhirn said:

The best practice for this is to have a free app and then have advanced content unlockable via IAP. If you make two apps (demo & real game), any store ratings, rankings and reviews won't be shared, which can only hurt your exposure.

It's also what Nintendo did with their Mario mobile game.

yeah , but like everything it'll have its own challenges and complications , e.g say if you allow only 5 levels free to play and charge to unlock the rest of the levels I dunno how many people would be willing to pay and not rate it badly stating its not really free as stated on the store page.

Anyway I guess that's the reason why freemium games are the norm i.e people play demos and pay for more content without realising it thinking they had the full game from the beginning. Clever trickery. Money or Creativity choose one :D

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57 minutes ago, yash verma said:

hmm, there are other ways to do a "play now, pay later" by say releasing demo versions like old times.

This typically leads to less revenue than having smaller microtransactions, because this just makes the problem smaller rather than fixing it.

If a player plays the demo and feels that the game is worth $5 but the full price is $10, you get zero, losing a hypothetical $5.

If a player plays the demo and feels that the game is worth $50 but the full price is $10, you get $10, losing a hypothetical $40.

If a player plays the demo but doesn't feel that they got enough gameplay to make a decision, you get zero.

Compare to $1 microtransactions; a player will buy as many as they want, so you lose no hypothetical money and you get as much money as they think the game deserves.

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1 hour ago, Kylotan said:

This typically leads to less revenue than having smaller microtransactions, because this just makes the problem smaller rather than fixing it.

If a player plays the demo and feels that the game is worth $5 but the full price is $10, you get zero, losing a hypothetical $5.

If a player plays the demo and feels that the game is worth $50 but the full price is $10, you get $10, losing a hypothetical $40.

If a player plays the demo but doesn't feel that they got enough gameplay to make a decision, you get zero.

Compare to $1 microtransactions; a player will buy as many as they want, so you lose no hypothetical money and you get as much money as they think the game deserves.

Seems about right, however I don't know what is the trick to find the right balance between fun and micro transactions so that the game is still fun to play but still generates enough revenue to sustain its own development . Maybe that's what define the games success or any shovelware with enough microtransactions would make money? My aim here is not to make million dollars but just enough so that the game can sustain itself at the least without sacrificing the consumer satisfaction . Or am I being too naive lol?

Edited by yash verma

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On 10/11/2017 at 12:01 PM, yash verma said:

Or am I being too naive lol?

It is an extremely complex subject.

All the companies I know that are serious about it have people with backgrounds in economics, psychology, marketing, business, and similar who are constantly debating and discussing what is happening right this minute.  There are patches and updates that are pushed out with little more than tiny tweaks to the monetization strategy.

 

On 10/11/2017 at 9:01 AM, yash verma said:

Its quite hard to find a popular game with original idea without pay2win model.

When you say it is "quite hard to find", that seems to me you aren't doing very good market research.  

When F2P was introduced many of the inexperienced developers (and nearly all the evil scummy developers) had pay to win. There was an ENORMOUS backlash from players, and the industry has a whole has mostly -- but not completely -- recovered from it. 

Every major publisher and developer (and most of the minor publishers and developers) recognize that "pay to win" is an evil model that destroys the marketplace.  Developers who do it are shunned.  Major publishers who notice it in their catalogs will force the developers to fix it. If the entire game is F2P, then the industry standard is that it must be winnable without any paid content.  If levels are free, the same is true for those levels, they should be complete without any money.

True "pay to win", not "pay instead of grinding", is getting quite rare from my perception.  Yes some developers are pushing the bounds again where grinding are 10+ hours instead of paying, but most are respecting the difference between "pay to save some time" versus "grind for untold hours until you either quit or pay up".

Violations invoke the wrath of players, and other developers, and publishers.  Steam routinely dumps true P2W games. Apple and Google will crack down on games when they get enough substantiated P2W complaints.

 

 

Your games can certainly be profitable, but don't expect to make millions of dollars.  If that is your goal go buy some lottery tickets, the odds are better.

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