The Premium vs Freemium dilemma has been quite a controversial topic among mobile gamers and mobile developers. You will find supporters on each extreme; both with valid arguments. However, chances are that some of you might not be familiar with the premium / freemium terminologies so we will briefly define them for you.
Premium pricing is when a development company bases the cost of its app on a one time price. For example, Limbo was first released at a price of $4.99 and you could play it without the need of paying any more money for in-app purchases or any other hidden payments that might come up.
Freemium pricing, dubbed as free-to-play, is when a development company bases the cost of its app on in-app purchases. As an example, you can acquire games like MARVEL Contest of Champions for free but will eventually need to spend money on in-app purchases in order to progress forward in the game.
So now that we know what premium and freemium apps may look like; which system, do you think, is most favourable among gamers and developers? Let us start with premium pricing. For developers having their apps priced as premium is something they would be willing to do but the problem is that not all consumers are willing to pay money for a game.
Many consumers even complained that XCOM: Enemy Unknown was too expensive during its initial price release which was around $19.99. Although, we can argue that the game was well worth it as it had the full console experience and was much cheaper on mobile than on console. So if we refuse to pay a worthy amount of money for a decent app, then how do we expect prominent developers to find the needed motivation, take a leap of faith, and bring an app full of quality and hard work to the mobile platform?
Unfortunately, when Dead Trigger was first released at the price of $0.99, more than 50% of downloads were due to piracy and the developers ended up making the game free of charge. This was not $19.99 but $0.99, as cheap as an app can get. If we refuse to support the developers then they will find no reason for them to develop quality apps for mobile devices and the mobile platform will die a horrible death. So yes, developers do favour the premium system but the problem is, they are not sure that most players are willing to pay for it. Of course, many of you do pay for the apps you love, and we are not generalizing everyone.
Thus, due to the aforementioned problem, developers have started to use the freemium pricing system and many players like it, even if you find them complaining. First, they get a certain app free of charge and enjoy its content, but when they are faced with in-app purchases, they voice their complaints that developers are being too greedy because they are asking you to pay. But how do we expect development companies to earn money for their apps which they worked so hard on? In order to develop an app, it may take many months and numerous developers to work on it. This means that the company has to pay these employees, pay for the resources needed, and for the marketing campaign as well. Let’s not forget taxes, renting offices, and other side charges that all companies are forced to pay.
So we ask again, if development companies cannot earn their money from premium pricing because some of us refuse to pay, and if they cannot earn from freemium pricing because we think that the developers are trying to ”grab our money” then how can they earn their money? Keep in mind that some development companies were forced to release (fire) over 100 of their employees out of their jobs because they were not making enough money from their apps and could not sustain their business. Imagine how many families are affected with each developer becoming unemployed. So we can conclude that each development company deserves its fair share of profit for the apps that they have developed.
Now, looking at it from the player’s point of view, why are developers adding in-app purchases and advertisements in apps that we paid for with a premium cost? Any app that is purchased with a premium price should not have any forced in-app purchases where you cannot progress in a game unless you buy certain items. This is simply unacceptable and forces players to stop supporting the developer. Note that we are not against in-app purchases but against forced in-app purchases. Meaning that when the app forces us to buy because the game is unplayable without certain items.
We as a mobile gaming network are not for freemium pricing but support premium pricing as it is conventional and has no hidden costs behind it. We sympathize with the players as we sympathize with the development companies. Players do not always have the money to buy an app, and when they spend the last of what is left with them of cash on an app they were so excited for, then they don’t deserve to be faced with forced in-app purchases that demotivate them from continuing their game.
In conclusion, we have discussed how developers deserve to earn money for the hard work they put into their apps and we as players should support them by paying for these apps in order to see more of them in the future, or otherwise mobile gaming is doomed to fail. On the other hand, developers should not include in-app purchases in their premium apps as they are already paid for and we as players want to see more premium priced apps with no hidden costs. The reason we posed these questions is because we wanted you to see things from the eyes of the developers, and we wanted the developers to see things from the eyes of the players. Philosophically speaking, if we consider Hegel’s triadic structure, then premium pricing is the thesis; freemium pricing is the antithesis; and a mutual understanding between the app creator and app consumer becomes the synthesis.
Considering the whole matter at hand, what type of pricing would you prefer apps to be, premium or freemium? Cast your vote below and whatever the result is, we will discuss it with every development company that we work with so that we voice your wishes and concerns.