Game Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional and independent game developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There's a heck of a lot of free games available out there, some of which are as good as games that you have to pay for. My question is, what makes the difference between a game that people will be willing to pay for, and one which is best left as a free to download/play online game subsidised with advertising?

share|improve this question

It's a decision made by the developers/publishers. In markets where a price-tag is an obstacle (eg. Apps), a lot of developers choose to go with a free-to-play game and get their revenue from ads or in-app purchases.

This business-model is also very common in browser-games. I'm not aware of any browser game that you actually buy before you can play it.

That being said, it's not a matter of how "good" a game is that makes it fall into the category of free-to-play or pay in advance.

As with everything else you want to sell, you'll have to study your target market/audience and find the appropriate way to sell your game. Also you'll have to decide whether or not you want to release a demo (or light) version of your game and a paid version, or if you want to just ship one version which is free-to-play and has in-app purchases.

share|improve this answer

I think you're conflating two unrelated concepts - "free-to-play" and "advertising supported". A lot of the free-to-play games have many ways you can plow money into the game if you so choose, and they encourage you to do so at every opportunity. See Puzzle Pirates for an elegant example of this and Age of Wonders Online for a significantly more hamfisted version. Both of those games are "free to play", neither of them have advertising, and both of them make money off users anyway.

(Puzzle Pirates, with true design elegance, manages to make money off even the users who aren't interested in putting money in.)

share|improve this answer
+1 for noting the difference between F2P and ad-supported. – chaosTechnician Aug 18 '11 at 16:48

David Edery (Spry Fox) posted a piece earlier on Google+ discussing this topic. I think you'd find his post and the followup comments and discussion worth a read for this particular question.

Rather than copy and paste the text, I'm linking to it below. Do read it.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.