There remain compelling opportunities for 'paid for' games in the mobile space despite the continued rise of F2P games, according to Nathan Vella Co-Founder & President of Capy, the creator of premium games like Critter Crunch
and Sword & Sworcery
Speaking at GDC 2013, Vella argued that, while an estimated 66% of revenue generated in the App Store in 2013 was from free-to-play games, around $2 billion came from paid games.
The argument that "paid apps are dead" is disingenuous, Vella said. "There is still a huge amount of opportunity in paid games - so long as you find the right game for the business model."
Vella argued that there are lots of niche genres with fans who are willing to pay for games up front when they appear. "Many players don't even know they want a game in a particular niche till one arrives," he said citing iOS titles The Room and Year Walk as games that have found vast success over the past few months despite being idiosyncratic titles that don't easily fit within an established genre.
"F2P has very specific genre effectiveness," he said. "I think in general the titles that don’t go that well as F2P titles can sell well in the paid space. For example, players of sports games expect to pay money up front for their game." Vella also pointed to console to mobile titles such as Dead Space
and The Walking Dead
as titles that work particularly well as premium apps. "Creators of these titles should understand and embrace the fact that their fans won’t be OK with a F2P approach."
Vella encouraged would-be premium game developers to split their promotion down the middle between speaking to players and speaking to Apple and Google as the platform holders who might potentially feature the game. "A significant part of this is understanding when you’re creating trailers and press you are specking directly to Apple and Google," he said. "Both companies have ear to the ground editorial teams so they will notice."
The producer had the following warning for studios considering switching to F2P from a premium business model: “Unless you have tons of experience and a really powerful backer who knows how to turn the most amount users into money, it’s an extremely risky place to play right now."
"The top 25 games in the F2P space are generating more than 50% of the revenue, immediately halving your market."