What is it about free-to-play games that inspires such a polarisation of opinion? Done right, it’s a perfectly valid and effective way for developers to minimise barriers to entry and get their work in front of as many players as possible. And yet so much of the focus around this new way to sell games is focused on when it is implemented poorly, inspiring social media storms and the wrath of a vengeful internet mob.
Both developers and players are still working it all out. It’s a careful balance to strike, as developers obviously need to recoup investment to survive – but that can’t be at the expense of player satisfaction. And so it falls to the varied speakers at Thursday’s F2P Summit in London to examine and define the current state of this often unfairly maligned and misunderstood model.
Though it is perhaps most famous for its paid slapstick sensation Surgeon Simulator, Bossa Studios describes itself as a free-to-play specialist following the release of mobile RPG Deep Dungeons Of Doom and Facebook-based social city builder Monstermind. Co-founder Roberta Lucca will discuss the process behind the creation of new titles to open proceedings at tomorrow’s F2P Summit, in conversation with game consultant Mark Sorrell. That opening keynote is followed by a more instructive talk entitled ‘The top five mistakes in free-to-play, and what to learn from them’ from prolific casual and mobile game developer Big Fish.
Vili Lehdonvirta will widen out discussions on the day, exploring the benefits and practicalities involved in implementing a player-to-player economy in your game, as well as the difficulties. Next, Wooga’s Florian Steinhoff will explain how the developer’s match three game Jelly Splash fought through hordes of similar games to reach the top of the App Store charts in the US, and after lunch, stalwart analyst Nick Parker takes to the stage in order to offer an overview of today’s free-to-play market, outlining shortterm opportunities and emerging trends. Serial entrepreneur Volker Hirsch, who has worked in senior roles in the mobile business for years as well as founding several companies, aims to give F2P Summit delegates greater understanding of how to make a free-to-play game without being seen as ‘evil’ or ripping off players, lending the subject his many years’ experience in the entertainment business.
Opportunities abroad is the focus of the next talk, from the managing director of online marketing company Glipsa Tim Nilsson. Sharing his experience from working in the emerging ‘BRIC’ nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China), Nilsson will offer a snapshot of the state of each market while suggesting tactics and strategies developers can use to breaking into these complex but potentially lucrative territories.
Fuse Powered’s talk cuts straight to the chase – it is entitled ‘Monetizing your entire player base: whales, dolphins, minnows and beyond’ and promises to help developers get the maximum return on its investment through advanced techniques it calls “player identification and applied dynamic action.“ That means canny use of player data, A/B testing, notifications and the personalisation of the game’s action, while also providing the best player experience – a tricky balance indeed.
Rounding out the day, MakieLab’s co-founders Alice Taylor and Sulka Haro will discuss their approach to forthcoming their free-to-play game, which will enable players to build a detailed, personalised digital doll within the game before buying an exact real-world replica, to be delivered by mail. Drinks and networking follow at the Summit, which takes place this year at Rich Mix on London’s Bethnal Green Road. There are still a few tickets remaining for tomorrow’s event, and more details here.