Online gaming has always been a sector ripe with innovations and ground-breaking ideas. After all, in many ways it is still an industry very much in its naissance, having only been around for a few decades.
Part of that process has seen lots of ideas come and go, with the best ones sticking around and the not-so-good ones falling by the wayside, never to be seen again.
One of the former is the free-to-play model, which has become one of the most adept ways of acquiring mass adoption of a new gaming title. The concept is simple: a game is offered to players for free, with the game’s developers and publishers only making their income from in-game purchases.
Of course, this only works if players like the game enough to stick around, rather than flitting off to another rival game, and it means a huge amount of initial investment is required to get a free-to-play game off the ground. However, the rewards for such a project can be huge, as we are about to find out.
Fortnite combined an incredible battle royale format with building gameplay elements and then made it all completely free to play
Fortnite Changes the Game
The online game that truly put a cat among the pigeons was Fortnite; when it was released in 2017, it blew the roof off the gaming industry, drawing millions of players to its open world, battle royale platform. Its creators, Epic Games, stunned the industry by making what was an eminently playable and beautiful game completely free to play. Critics saw the move as one that was doomed to fail, unsure whether players would bother to make in-game payments for things like special avatar skins.
How wrong those critics were, as the game went on to dominate and even helped spawn the careers of some of the world’s biggest online streamers, such as Ninja. The game has now hatched a huge number of copycats, all of whom recognise the inherent value of having active players on their platforms, no matter whether those players are paying to be there or not.
Classic Games Providers Do Free-to-Play with a Twist
Before Fortnite came along, there were other online games providers that were already using different varieties of free-to-play models to attract new players, as well as keeping hold of loyal players. Some of the most innovative were those that still to this day provide classics such as chess, poker, and Scrabble. The techniques employed by those providers listed at PokerNews and elsewhere have long used the likes of no-deposit bonuses, free spins, and new player bonuses. Rather than providing a game completely free for an unlimited time period, these offers allow gamers to play for free for a certain amount of time, before then giving them the choice of paying to continue or going in search of new games elsewhere.
This happy medium between paid games and the free-to-play model pioneered by Fortnite is one that seems to appeal greatly to large swathes of the online gaming community.
Online chess providers have always prided themselves on making the game as accessible as possible and part of that means keeping their platforms free from charges
Mobile Games Live and Die by Free-to-Play Model
While some battle royale games and many classic games toy with the idea of the free-to-play model, there is another genre of online game that specialises in making free-to-play titles – the mobile genre.
Anyone who has gone in search of a game to play in a mobile app store will have noticed this trend, with mobile games providers rarely ever charging up front for the titles they have created. However, rather than relying on in-game purchases that tend to have no direct affect on gameplay, mobile games take a different approach, allowing players to advance to a certain stage or level, and then requiring a player to pay to advance further.
While this approach can be infuriating for many gamers, it is none the less one that seems to get results for those providers who employ it.