The free-to-play marketing model in gaming is a fairly recent phenomenon, mainly being used over the last ten years in the online casino and mobile gaming industries. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and allows players to play a game for free before paying any money. In some cases, this serves as a taster of what is on offer. In others, there is the potential to play a game completely for free without ever having to invest any funds. But there are marked differences between the two sub-sections of the gaming industry. Let’s take a closer look.
How Do Online Casinos Use Free-to-Play?
In the highly competitive online casino realm, operators are constantly tussling with their rivals to attract players. In the early days, it started with promotions for new players, such as deposit matches up to a certain amount. But when it became clear that most sites were offering this or something similar, the operators who wanted to get ahead had to go one better. This is where the free-to-play option came about. A common bonus found at online casinos nowadays is a certain number of free spins for new players to use on a selected game, giving them the chance to win money without depositing any of their own.
Some online casinos even offer free-play on games so that players can get the hang of them before they invest any of their own funds. Paddy Power casino, for example, understands that some players want to enjoy the games without having to risk their money. For this reason, a number of the online slot titles at the site are available with unlimited free credits in the form of demo versions. That way, when players feel that they are ready to start playing with their own money, they will be much more comfortable doing so.
Will This Marketing Model Continue Into the Future?
Online casinos have arguably led the way with free-to-play options, and it seems that this will be a common feature in the industry long into the future. The other sector which has made this marketing model so popular is mobile gaming.
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Some of the most successful games of recent years have been free on the platform. In 2016, for instance, Pokémon Go was launched for free. Players were able to enjoy it without spending anything but there was the option to buy upgrades if they wished to do so. This seems to have been a stroke of genius from Niantic, as the game made $207 million in its first month – the highest take in a debut month of any mobile game ever.
Mobile MMOs have also flourished using the freemium method. Clash of Clans is one of the standout examples, and the strategy game from Supercell which was released in 2012 earns an average of $1 million every day. This is an impressive feat for a game which allows players to play for free, and it is a concept which many other developers, such as Plarium, have replicated.
With the online casino industry continuing to grow and attract customers using free-to-play options, along with the revenue that mobile games can generate with this model, it seems fair to assume that free-to-play games will exist for many years to come. At the moment, there isn’t a better way to get players hooked than by offering something for free.