Game Development Reference
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
Second thing is, I've been in the games industry forever, and I remem-
ber the shareware model. You'd get to play three levels of a game and
at some point, you'd need to pay your $10 or $15 and you'd get the full
game. The problem is, you really never know when the user is going to
convert. They might decide five seconds in that they like your game and
want to pay money. Or they might decide it wasn't three levels that did
it; ten was the magic point at which they were ready to reach into their
wallet. If you design a system around freemium and do it well, then play-
ers can have a satisfying experience playing free, but there's always this
carrot dangling in front of them. If you just pay a little more money—not
much—just to convert them, then their experience is going to be just a
little better. And people who fall in love with your game are constantly
being reminded that if they could just spend a little more, then they'd
enjoy the experience more. And that's the best way to snag them and turn
them into payers.
Lastly, the most important part of the freemium model is that it never
caps what your players can spend. If you design the game right, people
can spend money hand over fist. You're going to have whales out there
who will knock your socks off with the amount of money that they are
willing to spend on your game. Way beyond what they would have spent
on a subscription, and way beyond your highest expectations. I'm sure
it's a bell curve with your whales at the top, but those whales can defi-
nitely pour a lot of money into your coffers.
Q: Why do you think that in the mobile space we're seeing freemium, but
not yet in the console space?
A: That's a good question. I've not thought about the console space in
a while. I love consoles, but I find myself so attached to the PC space. I
think it probably has to do with players' habits of locating content on con-
soles. And even though they are all networked now, I don't think they're
as social as Facebook games or MMOs. Playing a Wii party game with
your friends is definitely more social than anything else out there, but
when I play console games, I don't think about them being web-enabled.
I don't think about going to check message boards, or a forum, or chat
with other people, or read a FAQ to see what's cool about the game. I'm
sure it'll evolve that way. It has to.