Analyzing the Free-To-Play Market

Do Consumers Prefer Games That Are Free?

Research shows that at the end of last year, there were approximately 6.8 billion mobile subscribers all around the world. Of this 6.8 billion, at least 1.2 billion were subscribed to mobile applications. In fact, analysts are estimating that this number will grow to 4.4 billion mobile app users by 2017.

Research also shows that almost half of the total mobile app subscribers come from Asia. This just goes to show how mobile users do not only use their mobile phones for making calls and sending messages, but also for connecting to the Internet and downloading different applications suited for their interests and needs.

variety of mobile applications

A Wide Range of Applications to Choose From

These mobile applications that are available in different operating systems, such as iOS and Android, range from gaming, photography, video, productivity, utilities, documents, office, and social applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, many mobile users still choose to download more games than other applications, probably because they use them for entertainment. Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, remain the top social networking apps downloaded from the application stores.

Are Free Apps or Paid Apps More Popular?

Meanwhile, mobile applications can be downloaded either for a specific price or for free. Most paid applications can be downloaded for full usage and without the annoying advertisements which suddenly pop up on screens while using the application. The price ranges from $.99 to $1.99, depending on the application.

On the other hand, free mobile applications can usually be downloaded as a trial version. Sometimes, free apps can be downloaded with certain features disabled compared to the paid version.  Free apps also have advertisements coming on and off of the screen while using the application, which some users find annoying and distracting. It boils down to what the subscribers will choose: paid apps without the advertisements or free apps with advertisements. Are they willing to pay just to get away from the ads, or they will just do with the ads since it’s free anyway?

Interestingly, data from the last three years show how mobile subscribers deal with free and paid applications. From 2010 to 2012, 80% to 84% of the most used applications were free of charge. That means 16% were willing to pay for applications. However, in 2013, Flurry Analytics found out that 90% of mobile apps are free. This just goes to show how people want their content to be free, regardless of the annoying advertisements that come with it. Flurry Analytics believes that the consumers choose free content over paid applications, even if it means they have to deal with advertisements and limitations on the features of the applications they are downloading.

Who is Buying Paid Apps?

money from paid appsNow, it’s time to check out the biggest spenders in the game. Who is willing to pay for applications? Are they Android users? iPhone users? Or iPad users? Well, based on the survey conducted by Flurry Analytics, the average amount that iPad users are willing to pay for applications is $0.50. You would think that number would be too small, considering that paid applications usually range from $.99 to $1.99. However, you might be surprised that iPhone users only pay an average of $0.19 per app. Android users only pay an average price of $0.06 per app.

This preference of the consumers is a determining factor as to how the application developers decide on the pricing of their applications. In fact, there were experiments made on the price of selected applications to determine its place on the market. On the one hand, there were untested apps which remained free. The tested applications that were put in experiment, from priced to free, showed an increase in demand, especially when they were offered free of charge in the online market.

Meanwhile, those applications that were initially offered free and then priced at a minimum of $.99 showed a decline in demand. This only goes to show how consumers still choose free applications over paid applications, regardless if they are using Android or iOS. This is probably the reason why most application developers limit the number of applications that they require payment. Most of the commonly used applications now are free and are easy to download.

How to Make the Advertisements Less Annoying

mobile app market place

The question now is as to how to minimize the advertisements placed on free applications. Are they even necessary? For some who don’t understand why they are placed there, it’s because that is how these free applications bring in revenue. The developers get fees from advertisements, which is what supports the operation of these mobile companies, since the consumers are not paying for them.

It is already given that consumers willingly accept and tolerate these advertisements instead of paying applications. It is now just a matter between the advertisers and the game developers as to how they will create the game and incorporate the ad in a manner that will benefit each party. There surely is some way the ads can be visible without interfering with game play. It is just a matter of creativity and efficiency on the part of the game developers.

With advertisements, mobile app users can enjoy free applications that can be downloaded as quick as 1, 2, 3. After all, mobile usage should be fun and enjoyable without having to spend money. Internet usage costs a lot now, mobile apps shouldn’t. Yes you have to deal with the ads, but at least they are free.  Free-to-play games are here to stay and the number of free games will probably continue to grow fore the foreseeable future.

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