What is freemium?
Every now and then, regarding games, the terms subscription, free to play or even freemium gets bandied about quite often.
What do these terms mean?
Most people would have no trouble understanding what subscription and free to play means. Subscription means the game requires a periodic payment, usually monthly payment, and free to play means that the game is free to play. That is until the developers adds hidden costs to a free to play game, which would turn it into a freemium. A portmanteau of free and premium.
How freemium works varies from game to game. Mostly it means that the most basic parts of the game is free to play while certain other content would be inaccessible to a player until he/she pays for it. As a payment model for a game, by itself, i would say that it is a pretty valid scheme. Problem arises when the marketing department starts to call their product a free to play game. After all, if it is free, why are certain content not free?
Sometimes, some content can be unlocked in more than one way. The quickest way would be to pay for it. The alternative could be using some form of in-game currency (generated within the game) which would provide for a slower, but free-er, way to unlock the content. Often, whenever such alternatives are available, there would be players complaining about it in the forums. complaints could range from how it’s not free to play, to how the in-game currency that’s used to unlock the privileged content takes too long to accumulate.
And then to these complaints, sometimes we hear the words sense of entitlement. Usually it goes like this:
Mr Apple: “Why is this content a paid-for content with no alternative way to unlock in-game in a free to play title?”
Mr Banana: “Kids’ these days are so full of a sense of entitlement. Developers don’t make games for free. This is how they earn money. It’s a free to play title. If you don’t like it, play something else.”
Unfortunately, it’s pretty much question begging. Mr Banana avoids answering Mr Apple’s question and restates the whole problem as a fact and uses it as his premise. The why do you need to pay to play in a free to play title remains unanswered. But of course, no developer is ever going to call their game a if you don’t like it, play something else title. Free to play sound so much better.
Ah.. but it’s such a touchy subject, i shall not go too in depth into it.
For the sake of completeness, there’s one more mode of payment for games. There’s subscription, free to play, freemium, and there’s also buy to play. In buy to play modes, players make one time payment for the game and the player gets to play the game for free for as long as the game remains playable.