Smart Phone Consoles, Growing Up & Why F2P Matters

Growth & Monetization Weekly

We follow a ton of news and blogs about apps, growth and monetization to keep up on industry trends, so each weekend we share some delightful reads for your enjoyment and learning.

If you think we missed something, let us know in the comments!

This Week’s Best Reads

Lots of free-to-play stuff this week…

Why the power of free-to-play matters

Ascend reaches 1 million downloads free-to-play

Brandin Tyrrel takes us on a tour of the current state of free-to-play in gaming.

To the consumers of games, “free” is the black spot: a mark of prejudice and implied deficiency. Free-to-play has become synonymous with quickly developed and quickly forgotten games.

That needn’t be the case, he argues. Free-to-play is not only an irreversible trend, but one that evens the playing field for smaller studios to reach (and delight) large audiences. Not all F2P games are bad, and in fact some are great.

The industry is changing — the business that drives it, the people that make it, the products that encompass it — these things are shifting in directions that defy preconceived notions or past infractions. In the future, “free” is going to be important. In the future, free-to-play matters.

Tyrrel points to Card Hunter and Ascend: Hand of Kul as strong examples of free-to-play done well. Ascend reached a million users in one week:

Not too shabby!

In The Click Of It: the last generation

Consoles vs Mobile

Edge’s Clint Hocking put together a nice piece positing on the future for consoles in the age of mobile. He’s not compelled to buy a next generation console mostly because he doesn’t see anything they’re offering that he can’t get with his current-gen models.

I’m not really constrained by an inability to buy a game at a store, so what does an online store offer me? And while I am looking forward to crossplatform compatibility and being able to engage with certain games on the couch or on the bus, this is all possible on current-gen hardware. Why do I need a new console?

His theory is that we’re five or so years away from getting a console-like gaming experience through the mobile smartphone as “console”. The tech is almost there, and both the industry and its players stand to benefit from it. Smaller indies will gain the same distribution potential as their bigger AAA counterparts, but the big guys will also find converting their back catalogue into these new environments is cheap and profitable. A “smart-phone as console” era is sure to attract a wider audience than the current console market does.

So when I lie back and stare at the ceiling and imagine the experience, it just seems totally inevitable. Everybody wants it from a gaming perspective, everybody needs it from a financial perspective, and the technology is rolling out and converging towards it rapidly.

Compelling piece.

Opinion: To rival the film industry, games need to grow up

GTA V

There’s a pretty significant amount of attention around GTA V generating more than $1 billion (with a b) in three days. That’s not terribly surprising, but it’s enough attention that it’s causing a lot of outsiders to take a look at video games in a new light. In many ways, video games is proving it should be taken more seriously as an entertainment genre.

For an industry with a market cap over $100 billion, video games don’t get as much press as one might expect. At least they didn’t until this month.

Chris Plante thinks it’s time the industry grew up and began acting a bit more like the movie business. His arguments span the development management of bigger publishers, industry worker representation, and even the flavor of the games that are made which lean towards violence and misogyny.

Blockbuster games have developed a reputation for being creatively and morally bankrupt. Perhaps the most widely recognized, yet persistent, problem is these game’s insipid and archaic view of women.

Chris suggests certain elements of the movie industry, like unionization and a heavy dose of consolidation in Hollywood, make it a more stable and (thus) mature industry. The result is quite a debate (check out the comments) but I think it’s hard to ignore that a new dawn is here for the video game industry.

Visualizing the importance of retention in Freemium

Eric Seufert has relaunched and rebranded his website, now called Mobile Dev Memo. It’s much better looking and involves a bit more velocity, sharing bite-sized memos linking to mobile-related news along with Seufert’s original content.

This piece on monetization is a must-read for free-to-play designers, articulately demonstrating that improvements in retention are the true path to better monetization when analyzing cohorts. Developers are almost naturally baited to push up their monetization schemes in the face of a low Day 1 retention, but the resulting complexity and risk makes this decision detrimental in the long run.

Monetizing a user early in their tenure with a product runs counter to the purpose of the freemium model, which is to allow for higher levels of engagement […] Users generally don’t become highly engaged with a product on the first day they interact with it.

Instead of iterative improvements to a monetization scheme, Seufert suggests focusing on retention:

[P]roduct iterations focused on increasing retention, by definition, attempt to increase the number of users present in a product in the future. […] Users that have been retained can always be exposed to improved monetization mechanics later.

The post includes quite a few helpful charts as well as a spreadsheet for evaluating your own cohorts.

That’s it for this week!

Did we miss any? Share your favorite articles and posts of the week with us in the comments below, or tweet us at @superrewards.

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