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Free to Play Games: It’s Not All About Huge Memberships

One of the biggest criticisms among industry observers of Free to Play games is that such games need a huge member base for the game to make any money. On a superficial level, this might make a lot of sense because at this level, it’s all a numbers game. In other words, you would need a hundred people playing your Free to Play game so that maybe ten of those people will eventually pony up money that would continue to support the game and would make the company behind the game a little profit. Well, it turns out that the whole idea of needing a massive base to play Free to Play games for every youth might be misplaced.

It turns out that another analysis is needed. If you look at the actual behavior of a Free to Play game’s member base, you would realize that only a tiny proportion are actually very active and among this active base is a higher proportion of people willing to pay money. This kind of goes against the whole “bigger is better” mentality for a Free to Play game. Instead, maybe a philosophy of “less is more” is needed because the focus here is not so much about the market penetration but user engagement. It’s all about having fewer but better players because of loyalty and higher engagement with the product.

This makes a lot of sense because if you look at websites or games that succeed, they succeed because they have their management build a community along with the product. A lot of game developers should pay attention to this. Free to Play is now the default industry standard for app games and massively multiplayer online role playing games like Rift. Developers of these types of games should definitely look at it from the fewer member angle because that might be where the money is.