About in-game ads & purchases

Is the gaming industry about providing high quality entertainment and being paid for that, or is it just a matter of milking as much money as possible from gamers? Is absolute quality still a value for game developers, in this new era of gaming?

I usually don’t install or I promptly uninstall games that feature in app purchases. Especially when they’re games that cost money. This became a strong trend in gaming and I really can’t stand it; I understand developers need to make money and pay bills and so on, but this must happen following some ethic, in my humble point of view. I think games should be sold for a price or be free: everything in between is a territory where dirty behaviors are feeling home. The same goes for in game ads: why should I see them if I already paid for the game? Why should I see ads at all? If you need to earn from the game, fix a price and don’t fill them with shit. But the business model became roughly something like that: set a low tag price to attract users so they download your game and you get nice stats (look we got 10000000000 download so we are cool) and then you put in game ads and/or in app purchases to get more money for the game. This is disturbing me: gaming is something important, I believe that.

A good game can help people forget their problems for a while, it makes you kick that shitty co-worker or boss away from your thoughts for a while, it maybe helps you forget the bills you must pay or the fact that school kills your mood etc. You play to live adventures, maybe to evade reality, to kill time having some fun and relaxing.. and when you do it and you get some flashing ad in your face this is all screwed up. The same happens when the game asks you MONEY: once you buy the game, there should be no more money talking. The developer sells the game so that the user can live it and play it at its best, that’s all. In game ads and in game purchases are like when a commercial interrupts an intense scene in a move on TV: it sucks and TV networks should not complain you prefer to download the series / movie with a torrent.

What really puts me off is that this business model became so popular: app stores are stuffed with apps and games that are “free” or extremely cheap, but this is just a lie because they are full of ads or require you to pay money if you want some core or very important function. I don’t think this business model will go away soon, because it works; most people doesn’t feel like I do and so developers go for it. I just find it wrong and that’s what the rant was all about.

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Andrea Bianco Written by:

illustrator, concept artist, photographer, graphic & web designer

2 Comments

  1. Something very interesting happened during the last decade. Gaming became mainstream. Whole genre of casual gaming was born. I think your rant reflects this and associated business models. The average cost of a game has come down a lot and distribution has become so much easier thanks to app stores.

    As you mentioned this comes with a price. In order to stand out many resort to the tactics you mentioned (free + income through ads and IAP). There are still some niche games that don’t do this, however. King of Dragon Pass is a great example of this. They charge a fair price (around $10) and that’s it. It’s more expensive than many other games but makes up for that in quality. The interesting thing about this case is that it is actually a very old game (PC, 1999) that was reworked to fit mobile.

    I also find Telltale Games’ episodic model very interesting. It is a very nice alternative for studios as it allows to split up development costs over smaller sections and helps to mitigate risk that way. They have also made some very nice moves with branding (existing franchise in some cases).

    It will be very interesting to see what kind of business models we will see in the future. As you said, the current free + ads/premium isn’t likely going anywhere. It is just too easy to sell. Clash of Clans is a great example on how to monetize on that. Contrast that to EA’s offerings and you can understand just how effective it is really.

  2. Andrea Bianco
    10/5/2013
    Reply

    I got Dead Trigger on my Note 2: it’s a nice game and I would happily play it, but the terrible ads coming up every moment are killing its mood and my wish to play. It’s a shame. If I see something like that I think the creators of the game are not caring about me having fun, they want to earn money, only that. In my idea the developers should earn money for the game and I should have fun with the game I buy.. the Dead Trigger model is something different since I can’t enjoy a game I didn’t pay for and the developer created a game that has the only purpose of making them earn money with ads and become popular as brand. Who is winning? Only the developer, and I think it is very wrong. I would have paid 5 euros for Dead Trigger with no problems, for instance.

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