Sponsored By

Featured Blog | This community-written post highlights the best of what the game industry has to offer. Read more like it on the Game Developer Blogs.

In this talk I discuss some of the precise mechanisms by which F2P games are most successfully monetized, and the psychological tradeoffs and consequences involved.

Ara Shirinian, Blogger

March 24, 2014

1 Min Read

Deconstructing Free to Play is a talk I delivered at Phoenix IGDA. It's long, so here is an outline of the topics covered:

  1. How Jetpack Joyride Jacked Learning

    • Learning Curves and how F2P monetization manipulates them.

    • Details about how Jetpack Joyride statistically constrains progress for monetization.

  2. The Pay Wall Dynamic

    • How successful F2P games create situations to compel real money spending.

    • Jetpack Joyride, Real Racing 3, Candy Crush Saga, Puzzle and Dragons examples.

  3. Gameplay Depth & Monetization

    • How monetization techniques are really independent of gameplay depth.

    • How PAD's basic gameplay design is good, deep and accessible despite coercive structures.

    • How random factors can dismantle a game's depth.

  4. Puzzle and Dragons' Compulsion Devices

    • How manipulations of resource availability confound players' impressions of abundance.

    • How free rewards actually catalyze player anxiety and subsequently lead to real money purchases.

    • The effects of complex special limited-time event schedules.

    • The conventional F2P Stamina/ Energy meter and how it psychologically works.

    • How the true nature of various systems are deliberately obfuscated.

  5. Concluding Thoughts

    • Buyer's Remorse.

    • F2P as dopamine hacks.

    • Learned Helplessness.

    • Long term implications, Q&A.

Read more about:

Featured Blogs

About the Author(s)

Ara Shirinian


Ara Shirinian is a video game developer, writer, and co-host of Chatterbox Video Game Radio. Most recently he was design lead on Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS. His gameography also includes The Red Star, Cars: Mater-National, Dood's Big Adventure, and NightSky. His specialties are player psychology, mechanics design, and human-computer interaction. You can find out more about Ara at http://www.shirinian.net and http://chatterboxgameshow.com. Features Ara has written for Gamasutra include: The Value of Repetition [07.31.12] Intuition, Expectations and Culture: Learning from Psychology to Build Better Game Interfaces [04.04.12] Dissecting The Postmortem: Lessons Learned From Two Years Of Game Development Self-Reportage [07.08.11] The Uneasy Merging of Narrative and Gameplay [01.26.10]

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like