This is a series of interviews of different player profiles (non-paying players, moderate spenders, and big spenders), and how and why they monetize in free-to-play games.
"Able" (not his real name) is a game industry professional and generally a non-spender in free-to-play games, though he has some very specific criteria as to why and when he will spend on a game...
ELLEN: You have not spent money on any free-to-play game. Is there a specific reason why?
ABLE: You’d say that I don’t like the value proposition. I don’t want to purchase consumables, or durables that I’ll grow out of.
ELLEN: But there are free-to-play games that you've played at length...
ABLE: "You Don’t Know Jack" and "Clash of Clans".
ELLEN: If you were to make a purchase, what kind of items would you be interested in purchasing?
ABLE: I’m happy to purchase new content that extends my gameplay.
ELLEN: But no experience point multipliers, energy points, or other items that accelerate or extend gameplay?
ABLE: I’m not at all interested in spending my way out of grinding.
ELLEN: Let's talk in more detail about those two free-to-play games that you've played the most...
ABLE: "You Don’t Know Jack" has a horrible business model. The daily game is plenty for me, and I earn extra tokens through gameplay which can be converted into additional plays (although I usually just stick to one game a day). I don’t want to play more games per day, so I’ll never monetize that way.
ELLEN: What about "Clash of Clans"?
ABLE: "Clash of Clans" wants me to monetize to accelerate my growth curve, but that growth curve is the whole reward for playing in the first place. Monetizing would just feel like cheating myself.
ELLEN: What is the most compelling upsell you've ever encountered?
ABLE: I am most likely to monetize on a single upgrade that unlocks a full gameplay experience.
ELLEN: Such as?
ABLE: I converted from the free "Dungeon Raid" game to the paid version, which added additional character classes and leveling, enriching the experience.
ELLEN: Have you ever participated in incentivized advertising, such as where you watch a video or download another game in exchange for some game coins?
ABLE: No, I don’t think I have. If I did, it was probably in the early days of Facebook gaming. I certainly haven’t done it in recent memory.
ELLEN: What do you think of free-to-play games, overall?
ABLE: I think they’re fine, as long as the pay walls don’t block gameplay. If people want to buy cosmetics or power-ups, I have no problem with that. It’s not a compelling purchase for me.
ELLEN: Able, thank you for participating in this interview!