Some quotes from EA All Play senior vice president Nick Earl have been making their rounds across gaming sites today. Earl defended EA’s stance on microtransactions to GamesIndustry by saying “Even though there’s some vocal minority that don’t like it, ultimately the numbers would show that they and others all support the freemium model better.” The gut reaction of me and those who think like me is to call Earl out of touch with what gamers really want. But the truth is Earl is right. Despite what we the “vocal minority” feel about it, the free-to-play model has seen a lot of success.
Free-to-play games have a bad reputation thanks to shoddy business practices. Many F2P games can be seen as pay-to-play or pay-to-win. These games are the proverbial bad apple that ruins the whole bunch. There are fine examples of F2P done right such as Path of Exile, but games like that seem to be a rarity. The mobile gaming space is polluted with companies that drip feed gameplay such as Glu Mobile and Gameloft. They’re only willing to unclog the pipe if you hand over steady payments of at least $0.99 for a few minutes of progression. But regardless of all that, people keep buying into it. People keep purchasing virtual currency and virtual weapons for extravagant prices. Sure I don’t do it, and you likely don’t do it, but we’re the minority. The $23 million EA made in a single quarter on The Simpsons: Tapped Out for iOS proves that. Think about it. $23 million for one game, in a single quarter, on a single platform. By now, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is available on Android with over 1 million downloads. It’s the 8th highest grossing game in Google Play. Real Racing 3 also has over a million downloads on Android alone.
Let’s look at some of the other big money makers in Google Play. Below are the top six highest grossing games and the number of downloads they have. They’re all free to play.
- Candy Crush Saga – 10 million+
- Blood Brothers – 10 million+
- Rage of Bahamut – 5 million+
- Dark Summoner – 1 million+
- Slotomania – 5 million+
- Megapolis – 5 million+
Out of the top 50 highest grossing games on Android, only one of them isn’t free. That game is Minecraft: Pocket Edition at #18. Mobage, which is a platform utilized by DeNA, consistently brings in the most money out of any other apps in Google Play. Pandora is the highest grossing non-gaming application in Google Play right now. It comes in at #22 preceded by Zynga Poker and Age of Empire.
I’m sorry guys, the numbers don’t lie. The majority of people want free-to-play. They don’t view it with cynical eyes like we do.