It seems that the trends from the market are changing day by day, and in the last year there is a huge trend we have to pay attention to: Games going from the Free-to-play model to pay-per-win.


Inside (and outside) of the official stores, we can find Pay-to-Play games, where you need to pay only once for all the content, and Free-to-Play, where you don’t need to pay for anything. These kind of games have seen huge growth because the revenues are impressive. Game developers have joined the trend of “free content”, even some of the market’s important players have changed to the FTP (free to play) model in the release of the second part of famous games, such as Angry Birds or Plants vs Zombies.

But, what are the monetization strategies of FTP games?

In the Free to-play category we can distinguish between several types according to the revenue strategy. Let’s see some models:


Real Free-to-Play

Following this model, the game is totally free. It’s usually a branding app or unique and strong advertising content. In this model we can find games created for monetizing with mobile advertising or studio teasers. The main aim of this kind of simple game is to show the potential of video games studios for investment.


Freemium Free-to-play

Most of the game content is free, but you can add some options via micro-payments. Nowadays, it’s the top model in revenue terms and it can divided in different strategies:


-Soft Strategy: The additional Premium content expands the game experience. For example, new skins for some characters or extra features. That doesn’t give the player advantages over other players, or it might discourage other players that don’t want to pay. Some examples of this strategy are the Chinese MOBA (based on League of Legends model), Vain Glory from SuperEvilMegacorp or Hearthstone of Blizzard.

-Block Strategy: You can play a game a certain number of times with some lives, but if you want to play more, you’ll need to pay. The main example is the Candy Crash game or the latest one, Angry Birds 2. If the quality of the game is good, it’s a recommended strategy, because the user will be keen to pay. It’s not a very aggressive strategy and you’ll have the complete game. This model just plays with user patience regarding the waiting times while acquiring new lives.

-Hard Strategy: In this model, you must pay to get the complete game content, in order to  acquire new stages (relegating the free part to a ‘demo’) or to really be competitive in  multiplayer mode. In this case, you must spend money. This model is at the edge of freemium/paid games. Users used to be reluctant to pay, feeling themselves deceived, especially in the early stages of the game. So it’s necessary to use this strategy mixed with another one to be successful.


In order to increase the revenues on this FTP model, you have the option to set ads for users, or even app downloads (see incent traffic), to get extra time, lives, skins or other extra features.


Pay per Win

It’s the most hated model by classic ‘gamers’ but it’s really profitable. Pay-per-win allows you to be better than the rest of the users, through payments (e.g., getting a better car in a race game, better equipment or character in a MMORPG). It is a model that decompensates the game’s balance to bring instant satisfaction. This model works better on IOS devices, as iOS users are more likely to pay.

If you are evaluating the strategy to employ for your game, there are several points to take into account such as: game quality, type, social content, focus on casual/hardcore players etc.


Combine to win

The key to success consists of blending theses strategies to catch the user. We give you a relevant example: Clash of Clans

In the first stages of this game, it works as freemium game with a block strategy: the buildings take X time to be build, but you can pay small amounts of money to speed up the development. Although the time is not so long, the expense will depend on the patience of the users. However, over time, those build periods increase and you’ll also need some new resources. You won’t be able to get them unless you pay for them, so the game goes to a hard strategy in the middle of the game. Even in the later stages of the game, you can see that the money is necessary to be better than the rest, and the more that users pay, the better they will be, leading into a pay-per-win in the last stages.


Paying attention to these options in the developing phases is mandatory to get real Engagement with the users. And of course, a good campaign of User Acquisition with us can be a key factor to get success. 🙂