Why Freemium is bad for us all

Support Game Developers

August 20, 2018

I'll be honest these past two weeks have been a little bit disappointing when it came to searching for a high quality game to review. The app store is starting to feel like a pile of freemium junk. Don't get me wrong, I like the entrepreneurship of the freemium games, but what it does to the culture of game development and even gaming itself has me worried. Hyper casual games to me are like great movies with horrible sequels. They take something that was fun or is fun and they overdo it and overplay it so much that the fun is wasted out of it for the sake of making money. You buy into it because it's something that looks fun or interesting or maybe you liked something similar (like the first movie) and that's what draws you in. That's how they collect your money. It's greedy and it must be stopped. It takes the creativity out of games and foces creative people to make games that will generate revenue instead of making games that will be fun.

Personally I feel like the movie industry is failing. Making creative movies became too risky so now movie studios only make cash-guaranteed movies. You know the ones, something with a huge cast and its based on something you already know. That's why they are making so many comic book movies and so many sequels. Regardless of whether those movies are actually good, personally it's made the culture of movies, boring. I haven't been to the movie theaters in probably about 5 years now because of this exact reason.

Now don't get wrong, I don't expect these games to be free and if it's a good game I want the developer(s) to be compensated significantly for it. We moved into a culture where a $0.99 game is too expensive. Really?! Do you really not have a $1 to contribute to something that will entertain you for hours. Is a $1 really something that's going to break your bank? 

Now of course I'll hear people say, well why would I spend a $1 when I can play something else that will entertain me for hours but it's free. My answer to that is simple. The game still has to make money. You're paying that $1 either way. Whether it's with your time (looking at an advertisement) or with your own money. But what a lot of people don't get about paying for the game with your time is that it makes games BAD. Games lose their value. You structure gameplay around "how many times can I serve up an advertisement?" instead of "how can I make this a fun and engaging experience?"

I know this because the first two games I released on the App Store were complete garbage. They followed this same principle of Hyper Casual. I'm embarrassed by these games. These games weren't art. They weren't an expression of my skills and creativity. They were a greedy attempt of stealing your money. 

And don't get me wrong either. I don't think using advertisements as a source of monetization is bad. I just don't think games should be designed around them.

Now, I refuse to work based on greed. Until the day that I am no longer capable, I will only make things because I feel they are great. I will only put out content because it's an expression of who I am and what I like to do. And if I can make a career out of it at the same time, then I will be a happy man. I've been working on a game for a while and it's no where close to being done. And that's fine. I'm not making it to turn a profit. I'm making it because making is a passion of mine. This type of game has been a dream of mine since the first day I picked up a controller to play Super Mario World. 

My game won't have any advertisements. There will be no pay-to-play tactics. As a subscriber to this newsletter you will be granted free access to this game, but it will more than likely have a public price tag of anywhere from $0.99 to $2.99. That's less than what you spent on your coffee this morning. Game developers deserve to make money, but that's a fair price in my opinion. A fair compensation model that doesn't wash out my game experience with annoying ads or mind-fuck tactics that get you to empty your bank account like a crack head looking for his next fix.

I know this isn't my usual happy go-lucky style post, but I am passionate about the direction that the gaming and entertainment business is heading. I am saddened by the fact that these creative-less tactics actually work (until they destroy everything and then don't).

As a gamer, I hope that you'll change your perspective on paying for games.

As a developer, I hope that you don't give into the greed of monetization (like I have).

We are a community, let's support each other. Thank you for listening to my rant.

(wal•do) — Person
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