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Developer of The Room decries the mobile market's F2P addiction

"How a paid game happened to sell 5.5m in this day and age is not the important question — the real question is the following: In a market as huge as mobile how the fuck are Fireproof among the only makers of premium games that saw this kind of success?"

Alex Wawro, Contributor

May 9, 2014

2 Min Read

"It's fair to say one reason mobile gaming is dying on its arse for developers is because the idea that one billion gamers want to play variations of Candy-Clash-Saga a thousand times is fucking insane. We've got the stats. It's 3 percent at best. So we've nailed that, time to try something else."

-Fireproof Games co-founder Barry Meade interrogates the current state of the mobile game market in a recent editorial published by Polygon. Combined sales of Fireproof Games' mobile puzzle games The Room and The Room 2 passed 5 million in March, and studio co-founder Barry Meade believes that isn't a fluke -- despite the fact that neither game is free-to-play -- a remarkably popular monetization model for mobile games that seems a bit unstable, given reports that half of all revenue from free-to-play games comes from 0.22 percent of the people who play them. "This is a statistically insignificant amount of happy gamers and nothing that gives you a basis to make claims about "what people want'," writes Meade. "I think it just as likely that mobile's orgy of casual titles is due to simple bandwagon-ism or, in other words, not knowing what people want." Meade points to the success of Fireproof Games' single-player puzzle games, as well as the success of trailblazers like Minecraft, as evidence that mobile games don't have to be casual, low-demand experiences that are given away and then monetized with a free-to-play model that relies on disruptive IAP systems. "Taken as a whole the games industry is making mobile games that nobody cares about available to millions of players for nothing," writes Meade. "Free-to-play producers chime that quality levels are obviously fine, 'If it's making money it's objectively good, see?' Well no, not quite, shit sells by the ton every day." Meade exhorts mobile developers to build games that provide players with novel, engrossing experiences that they can't get on any other platform, games that define new trends rather than pander to existing ones. His full editorial is worth reading over on Polygon.

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