Despite Activision’s massive US$5.9 billion investment in King Digital Entertainment, the days of freemium games may be numbered
While Activision Blizzard’s announcement last week that it intends to acquire King Digital Entertainment, the makers of the popular (or despised) Candy Crush games, for a whopping US$5.9 billion is certainly big news, we posit that freemium games like Candy Crush may be on their way out.
Even though Activision likely bought King for its massive mobile gaming and developer resources, and not because Candy Crush is on the rise, we believe that other large gaming companies such as Microsoft and Bethesda are creating more sustainable mobile games.
The reason? Annoying freemium games are out and content — and yes, games that people actually pay for before they play them — is in.
This is why:
With games, people will pay for narrative — just like HBO
The greatest problem that mobile developers faced when creating a game that appealed to the already established console base was putting innovative game play, graphics or stories into their works.
Most of them failed to do this, choosing instead to copy popular games or release expensive versions of earlier hits. Even Candy Crush copies the already popular game Bejeweled in game play.
But that has started to change.
In September 2014, Microsoft purchased Mojang, the developers of the successful sandbox game “Minecraft.” This game was so popular that even though it cost US$6.99 to purchase initially, as of January 2015, Mojang has managed to sell more than 30 million copies.
While gamers worried that Microsoft would pull the innovative game from all non-Microsoft platforms, thankfully the company left the game alone and announced a spinoff called Minecraft: Story Mode.
The US$4.99 game was developed by TellTale Games, a company known for its narrative-driven games based on popular franchises like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Both Minecraft games require an initial purchase, but have no other payments required.
Much like the original Minecraft, the game was released on mobile devices. It now sits with the original in the top paid apps on Apple’s App Store, while the first Minecraft sits at number one on the Google Play Store.
In June, Bethesda made a surprise statement at E3. During its panel, which most expected to include the release of Fallout 4, Bethesda also announced a mobile game called Fallout Shelter.
It was a move that shocked many, as major game studios generally assigned mobile game production to subsidiary or partner studios, such as the development deal that Nintendo and DeNA struck in March. The game released that same day.
Gamers liked the fact that it featured unique and fun game play. Within two weeks, the game had made over US$5.1 million, an impressive feat considering that it was a free game with only one micro-transaction: USD$0.99!
What does this mean for smaller game developers?
It may no longer be acceptable to release a simple freemium game and become profitable. This year, gamers expect more.
Fallout Shelter and Minecraft show that players are willing to invest in a game that has a great story or game play. This is a trend that has already appeared on consoles and PCs, as players flock to independent games for game play or story.
If mobile developers can create new or innovative ideas, and get the initial users necessary, then they can mimic this success. Minecraft is a prime example.
However, as larger companies like Bethesda develop more of their own mobile games, which they can throw their marketing budget and brand name behind, it will become increasingly easy for gaming corporates to release content driven games like Fallout Shelter — and harder for smaller outfits to compete.
Basically, content’s rise in mobile gaming is great news for gamers and not so great news for gaming startups that have been able to slide on freemium, advertising, and in-game purchases.
The article Freemium games like “Candy Crush” may be on their way out. Here’s why was first published on Geektime.
Image Credit:Candy Crush Saga
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