These guys make it possible for everyone to enjoy free to play games

By on November 2, 2012, 2:30 PM

Although it may seem like developers are getting the shaft when it comes to free to play games, the model is actually a win-win for gamers and developers alike. Unlike a demo, free to play titles give players the full game experience without having to pay a single dime.

Sure there are in-game extras that can be purchased with real money, but they aren’t necessary to progress through a story. It’s perfect for casual players as well as those looking to discover the next game that really gets them excited. The latter, of course, is exactly the reason why we’re seeing more games released under this model.

Gamers that are willing to invest real-world money in a free to play game essentially make it possible for everyone else to enjoy the game free of charge. Jared Psigoda, CEO of browser game publisher Reality Squared Games, says these dedicated gamers are called whales. For a number of publishers, whales make up a significant portion of revenue from free to play games.

Mobile monetization research firm PlayHaven claims that the top 10 percent of players can account for roughly half of all in-app purchase revenue. That sounds like a lot of money being shelled out from just a handful of players which leads to just one question: who are these whales?

Wired recently set out to answer this very question and found a couple of people willing to discuss their extensive in-app purchases. Lee is a 42-year-old businessman from California with an annual income in the six figures.

He admittedly spent close to $5,000 in the Facebook game Happy Kingdom before finding his latest obsession, Clash of Clans. He’s only been playing the latest game for about a month but has already invested nearly $1,000.

Lee says that spending money on video games like this is actually cheaper (and healthier) than his previous hobby: drinking. He said it wasn’t uncommon for him and a small group of friends to spend upwards of six grand between them in a single night. 

Lee’s spending pales in comparison to what other whales are dishing out, however. Vince is a 45-year-old divorced guy with a 16-year-old daughter. He claims to bring home between $200,000 and $400,000 each year.

His game of choice is Battle Pirates, another Facebook title. It’s in this virtual world that he has spent more than $16,000 since early 2011. Vince reportedly seemed shocked when he tallied up the total, believing it was probably closer to $5,000. It’s all for nothing, he told the publication.

“You want to be the top guy,” Vince says. “Once you convince yourself to spend two hundred dollars on it, another two hundred dollars isn’t that much more.”




User Comments: 7

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wow....that is just INSANE. $16,000 over less than 2 years for a Facebook game? And one that he doesn't even play anymore? Someone needs to see a shrink.

"There's a sucker born every minute." P. T. Barnum

BlueDrake said:

Wow....that is just INSANE. $16,000 over less than 2 years for a Facebook game? And one that he doesn't even play anymore? Someone needs to see a shrink.

"There's a sucker born every minute." P. T. Barnum

Care to look at Korea? Nexon was the general driving force of F2P, especially when it came to North America. Sure some I'm sure dabbled with the system, but when others seen it's success? No surprise that everyone jumped on board, especially the general casual game genre.

Sub-based was the norm until F2P made a huge impact. There are people who spend hundreds, even in black market forums over game items. Be them hacked (duped) items or something really one of a kind, there's always someone wanting to buy them. To then fill out multiple characters.. you can see it becoming a huge business. Then include the actual in-game bonuses of extra gold or exp, mainly in the MMO market of course it's thousands spent.

You see people easily spend $100+ for things. I'd direct you to Nexon in North America, for the general high price of things. There's been things from $1 to $100 and people buy it, without even so much as a second glance. I'll admit my own personal spending was high, nearly $5,000 but that was across multiple accounts for 6 years. So that's more of a general casual to someone, unlike those who would spend that in a few months time.

Guest said:

Rich and stupid

well isn't he just ripe for the taking

oh wait he all ready has been

TJGeezer said:

Better hobby than drinking, one spender says. Probably so. Alcohol kills or injures a lot more people, often not even the drinker, than gaming does. If he can afford it, why not?

1 person liked this | SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

$16k over a year and a half isn't much when you are pulling in $450k. Even if he 'only' made $200k its 8% of his income, as long as he's able to pay other bills I don't see the harm. Its something he enjoys doing, who are we to judge.

Martan Martan said:

Yea, sounds about right. I can spend hundred a night drinking at a bar without a single regret the next morning. Well except for the hangovers.

Why would I care for a couple of dollars for some gems?

Martan Martan said:

Yea, sounds about right. I can spend hundred a night drinking at a bar without a single regret the next morning. Well except for the hangovers.

Why would I care for a couple of dollars for some gems?

Adding to that, I am no rich, just in comparison, paying for these games of ten, twenty, fifty bucks really is not a big deal. It really depends on your income though, I would have spent quite a bit if I had a six figure salary. lol

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