Abstract, summary and conclusion all in one Venn for the impatient:
And, actually, I'm kind of impatient too. So here's some some shortform notes on what I was thinking about when the above popped into my head.
- We named it wrong -- it's not "free" at all. It's just another way of try before you buy
- This is not a post about shitty energy system time management games interactive experiences
- * I would write Free 2 Play... but I was reliably informed at GDC Online that the term is trademarked by K2 Network -- in a talk, by them, about the wonders of this "new" model
We've a bunch of other terms to describe this stuff:
- Freemium: apparently it's different, though I hear it used interchangeably with free to play
- Freeware: stuff that is actually free
- Shareware: stuff that is feature or content limited until the user hands over some cash
Wait a minute, that definition of shareware sounds kind of familiar... in fact, isn't that a better description of what we're trying to describe here? Instead of copying floppy disks and installing from free CD-ROMs, we're pushing this stuff out digitally... but we're still targeting the maximum possible audience with the free stuff in order that the ones who really like it want to pay more to play more -- and can? Right?
Okay, "shareware" isn't a great name either... but it at least is a little more accurate. And it doesn't sound quite so manipulative. Have you thought about other words with "free" in them. There are more poor examples than great ones.
Anyway, back to that diagram. It's pretty self explanatory. This is nothing new... we're just finding new ways of getting the reach we need in order for people to reimburse us as and when they want to. In fact, it's a little better -- the green circle being inside the red circle means everyone paying us money has already played our game... the chances of them being satisfied with their purchase are much higher.
AS A COMPLETELY SEPARATE ISSUE, we have to remember that in parallel there's a bunch of other crap being pedalled under the "game" moniker -- if we continue to make high quality games and at the same time experiment with these new delivery and commercial mechanics, the distinctions will become clearer.