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More variety in free-to-play is on the horizon, predicts Kongregate

The free-to-play market is dominated by certain genres such as strategy games and RPGs. But now the free-to-play market is poised for change, said Emily Greer, cofounder of web game portal Kongregate.
The free-to-play market is dominated by certain genres such as strategy games and RPGs. But now the free-to-play market is poised for change, said Emily Greer, cofounder of web game portal Kongregate. "[I expect to see] more variety in terms of the type of game and monetization method. So far, it's been a lot of RPGs and strategy games," she told Gamasutra at GDC Online. "Now that a lot of people understand how to make free-to-play work in those contexts, [people will bring it] to other genres. "I'd love to see more experimentation and drive in how to make free-to-play work in other situations," she added. "I think that's going on, and will continue to develop. People are also getting smarter, and learning the dynamics of free-to-play game design. "There's been, initially, a lot of fast-following, where people are copying a mechanic that they saw in an Asian game and bringing that to Facebook, and taking things from other people without necessarily understanding what the underlying factors are that make people behave a certain way." Kongregate, owned by game retail giant GameStop, is an online game community that hosts tens of thousands of web-based games developed and uploaded by the community, as well as game development professionals. Kongregate makes its revenue from ads and virtual goods sales, but it's the latter that is the big performer. "Virtual goods really dominate our revenue stream," Greer said. "We get probably about 30 percent from ads and 70 percent from virtual goods. It's 200 [virtual goods games] out of 60,000. It's a really powerful business model, and we've seen tremendous growth over it over the last few years. Ads have been growing, traffic has been growing, but virtual goods have completely skyrocketed." Gamasutra is at GDC Online in Austin this week. Check out our event page for the latest on-site coverage.

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