Consumers no longer want to pay for games

Posted by Mike Luttrell

What do you think happens when the "freemium" business model becomes the norm across mobile platforms and MMOs?

The answer is pretty obvious - people start feeling like they're entitled to free games. The cost of delving into a new title should be zero, and it's on the game maker to prove, after the fact, that their game is worth spending money on.

That seems to be the prevailing theory at places like Electronic Arts. In an interview with UK website MCV, EA Interactive senior VP Nick Earl made that clear.

"The future is not about one-time payments, the future is about freemium," he said. However, this isn't a bad thing. In fact, there have been multiple studies showing that "free" games end up costing more to the average user than games that only have an upfront purchase cost.

"A decent number of people convert to paying and they may not pay a lot but most of them actually pay more than you’d think," Earl said.

But the question is how far of a reach this business model has. "I’ve wondered if freemium expands beyond the tablet, Facebook and smartphones, and out into consoles? I don’t think it’s impossible for that to happen," Earl opined.

The problem with gaming consoles, for example, is that there is more friction in terms of overhead costs for developers, and a much more rigid mindset among console gamers.

But clearly the industry is heading in that direction. We'll see how much further it goes.