Will Variety Prove The Spice Of The Free-To-Play Market?

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Steve Anderson
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Will Variety Prove The Spice Of The Free-To-Play Market?

Recently, Emily Greer had a few things to say about free-to-play gaming. Why should anyone bother listening to Emily Greer, you wonder? How about because she's the co-founder of the free-to-play video gaming portal known as Kongregate, one of my personal favorite such venues? What she had to say about free-to-play was actually recently rung assent by another move in the sector that will give Kongregate a run for its money.

Greer described, for the folks at Gamasutra, how free-to-play is actually a big-money effort for Kongregate. Greer further detailed that, when it comes to making money at Kongregate, there are two primary vectors for incoming cash: advertising and virtual items, the kinds of things that can be used in games. Advertising represented 30 percent of revenue, roughly...but the clear winner was in-game items at 70 percent. This means a lot of opportunity for Kongregate to make cash with every new game they unveil.

But they're not alone in this, either. While there are several free-to-play game sites out there, AOL recently put a coat of fresh paint on their premiere gaming service, Games.com. That service features a wide array of free to play games, specifically geared toward mobile gaming thanks to an HTML5 base. Each title comes with a video commercial before play begins, and that's the extent of the advertising. AOL is clearly counting on reach to carry the day, and that's not out of line.

The plain and simple is, the free-to-play market is getting a lot of extra variety in it. Not solely from the number of providers, you see, but also from the kinds of games and experiences available. While free-to-play has been big on strategy and puzzle gaming, action gaming experiences and RPGs are even getting involved. Even the legendary World of Warcraft is a free to play experience, until users reach level 20.

The plain and simple is, developers are discovering value in letting the customers have free games. Whether by including advertising elements or by offering a fuller experience to paying customers, the value of free gaming is much more than would likely be expected. That's going to spur some development in the not too distant future, and that's likely to prove quite valuable indeed for gamers.
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