You hear it all the time, publishers milking the players of their cash using microtransactions. Is it that bad, though? The term is Free to Play, used on games where there is no fee up front. You just download and play, but there’s a catch: microtransactions are used to monetize the game. Clash of Clans uses this by charging for gems that allow players to skip the time it normally takes to build and upgrade structures or train troops.
Call it greedy, but I think it’s a fine tradeoff for eliminating the first barrier, which is paying up front. Would you imagine Temple Run or Angry Birds to be as successful if they cost $1-2? Mobile gaming wouldn’t have taken off if this forward-thinking approach didn’t take place. To reach the masses, you have to give them something they want. What better way then than to give it for free? This is where microtransactions come in. The most common practice is putting workarounds when players want faster progression. Want to reach level 20 without spending hours of your time? Buy yourself an upgrade and immediately play as a powerful avatar.
It’s as simple as that. Yes, you hear complaints but this is just a vocal minority. Most of the players are just happy they can play games for free now. A small fraction of that player base is bound to spend cash for that quick workaround. It’s up to the developers to figure out what the player satifaction/money earning ratio will be.
It’s surely a players-first business model. You build up that audience first, then the money comes to you. Yes, there is room for abuse, but you can always count on players to stop playing when the artificial barriers are just too much. I can’t imagine the casual gamer population ballooning to this size before Free to Play became a prominent category. The perfect question to naysayers is, would gaming be cool if Free to Play wasn’t invented? We’d be stuck to that nerdy guy with no social life image forever if Free to Play didn’t take off.