AUG 2021 UPDATE: PRICING items in f2P games

This is just a foreword to tease you about my recent talk about F2P game pricing and its follow-up article, both edited and published by the good folks of ironSource Level Up.

One of the key characteristics of F2P games is that the economy is deeply embedded in the core experience. In other words, it means that most of the game goals and progression milestones are structured around the acquisition and spending of game resources.

If you’ve ever wondered why, I think it’s because of two main reasons:

  • First, because monetization relies on selling game resources to access game content.

    The content could be sold directly. For example, 1 character skin for 10$…
    But managing it through an intermediate resource (like gems) allows more control: You currency bundles to increase the size of a transaction, or to grant a fraction of the purchase through in-game rewards, etc
    We already spoke extensively about this in our article on IAP Packs.
  • Second, because to maximize players’ Lifetime Value, F2P games aim to be endless.
    And to base game progression on resources allows controlling the pace at which content it’s acquired and its length in terms of gameplay time.
    It also makes it easier to generate player goals, and push them to repeat specific action loops (which also helps the game becoming a habit). Like this one:
We can understand a game economy as a system of incomes (taps) and outcomes (sinks).

Ultimately, this means that setting up in-game prices is very challenging, as it means defining a big part of the overall economy. And it’s not only about monetization (setting optimal price points to generate the most revenue), but also about creating meaningful game goals that keep the players coming back.

And there’s also the factor that there’s no single economy and pricing model that can be applied to every game. Each type of audience has a different budget, time availability for playing, different capacity to manage complexity, and they will be attracted to different virtual products…

A game economy and pricing model will be very different for a game oriented to my dad or to my hardcore friends…

In most cases, different audiences may be playing the same game (the average player in Switzerland may have a completely different budget than the average player in Spain). And it may change if you alter the mix of players getting in the game through marketing. Which makes it even more difficult to set up a pricing model that suits everyone.

Ultimately, this means that the answer to How to price items in a F2P game? is not about having a specific solution, but rather a process that can adapt to different games and audiences.

So, how to price items…?

If this is a topic that you’re interested in, the good place to begin researching are the materials that I published with the good folks of ironSource Levelup:

Or, if you prefer reading instead of watching a video, here’s the follow-up article on their blog.

What’s next?

I’m still working on the third part of my deconstruction of Legends of Runeterra, although it may take a while because I got a bad case of Covid (I’m feeling much better now, thanks for asking), which delayed me several weeks.

And also, for those of you interested on learning more about game design, I’m announcing that on September 16th, I’ll be running a new masterclass on Game Design for PocketGamer.

This will have updated info to make your game more marketable and get the most value from third-party IPs, in a way that satisfies both the licensor and the players. Both things key in our post-IDFA times. It will be fun : )

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