A review of freemium gaming



When it comes to gaming, players in the 80s and 90s were accustomed to spending a chunk of change to enjoy their favourite titles. 


Getting the newest game cartridge and settling down for hours of fun was a feeling you could not beat. 


Until technology improved and freemium gaming became the norm. Free-to-play games on mobile took gaming to another level. 


Freemium isn’t entirely free, and it doesn’t always involve costs either. 


It might sound confusing, but the freemium gaming model is something most people have experienced – and many of the most popular mobile games are a freemium model too. 


Freemium gaming is one of the most popular ways for developers to release games to the public. Using free gaming modes and other teasers to entice them into buying extra hearts, gems or download content.


What is freemium gaming?


A freemium game is free to download and free-to-play, but it is only free for a certain amount of levels or achievements. 


The key feature is that you don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to purchase lives, unlock new features or pay for adverts to be removed – if you are happy with the game as it is. 


If you wish to progress at speed, you will want to purchase lives, levels and unlock extra features without the timers and timeouts. 


A freemium game model is most popular with mobile gaming, although it can be seen across PC and consoles in MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic. 


Almost all freemium games will operate with in-game money. Players can buy in-game coins; these in-game coins buy upgrades, unlock special side games, and are exchanged for items in-game. 


Freemium games also typically have something called pain points. Pain points keep the gamer stuck – they have to achieve something complicated or buy premium elements to get out of it quicker. 


Mobile gaming popularity


Mobile gaming has seen rapid growth from 2018, and that is unlikely to slow down. 


2020 was an excellent year for the mobile gaming market and saw $77.2 billion in revenue, and was one of the highest performing industries globally. 


The mobile gaming industry saw a 12% increase in the player base between 2019 and 2020, and of that $77.2 billion, $19 billion was spent just in the second quarter of 2020. 


It is a close call between Android users and Apple fans when it comes to downloading the most games. 21% of app downloads belong to Android owners, and iOS has 25% of all gaming app downloads. 


Freemium popularity 


Freemium popularity and mobile gaming go hand in hand. Freemium apps have seen an increase in popularity due to the developer cost of creating mobile gaming apps. 


Freemium apps are free to download, but almost all freemium players will pay to unlock extra features. 


A game might cost $10 to buy outright; however, players will pay more than $10 over time for the unlocks, lives and extra options. 


A gamer will enjoy the game for a while, and after some progress has been made, a paywall will happen. 


The add-on features, although they cost money, will allow the player to make progress. 

A freemium model allows mobile app developers to get maximum exposure, and as players play the game advertise to them – selling more content at a higher cost.


Players want to try before they buy, which is why freemium provides the perfect option for them. They don’t need to invest anything to play the game – unless they want to. 

What types of games are freemium?


There are freemium game genres to suit all gamers. Although mobile games do dominate the market, freemium games are very popular on PC too. 


Online games like League of Legends, is free to download, but you will likely want to make some skin purchases and make your favourite character cooler. 


Star Wars: Hunters and Star Wars Commander are both freemium games. Star Wars Commander was a strategy game available across Windows, Android and iOS for mobile gaming. 


The freemium model has seen a variety of different games and gaming niches have huge success. The following games and apps have achieved huge gross sales:


  • Minecraft – Pocket Edition
  • Facetune
  • A Dark Room
  • Clash of Clans
  • CandyCrush
  • Pokemon Go
  • PubG


Each game will also have a different ‘exchange rate’. As an example, in Clash of Clans, they use Gems.  


14,000 gems costs USD $99.99. Everything within the game can be upgraded, but you need to make a time and cash investment to do so. Troops, spells, pets and heroes all cost gems. 


There are modifiers within the game that can speed up processes, store more elixir, and so on. 


Pay attention to how much in-game cash you are getting for your real-world money.


Freemium modes in online casinos


Online casinos are seeing massive success with freemium models, allowing players to learn and play free games, then offer paid games available when the players are ready. 


This technique has proved successful with many casino providers around the world especially in countries in the West like USA and Canada where the use of online casinos is rapidly growing due to the relaxation of attitudes and laws towards gambling.


Online casino providers have tried to utilise the freemium modes into a variety of their casino games however slots are one of the most popular online casino games in the freemium area. 


Free spins and free play slots mean that players can test out many gaming options before deciding which one to pay-to-play. 


This method has proved successful for both parties, as players can try out a site before depositing their own money and casino providers hope that the players like the game so will deposit their own money eventually to continue playing.


Future of freemium


Freemium gaming has proven to be successful across mobile platforms and online gaming alike. 


Is there a possibility to see more freemium games on consoles? 


Loadout, Spartacus Legends and DC Universe Online all have freemium type models, but in most cases, you could sidestep a lot of the difficulty with hard work instead of paying. 


When it was released, DC Universe Online had a considerable amount of content behind paywalls, and that frustrated many players. 

Indicating, at the time, console players weren’t as accepting of the freemium model as PC and mobile gamers. 


If the balance is correct, and the game already has a wide fanbase, then a freemium model will likely be incredibly successful in the future. 


For now, the freemium model is taking the mobile world by storm and benefiting players and developers alike. 

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