When Pay to Win fails PART #1

Obviously "Pay To Win" isn't the most flattering tag to have put on your app, because it makes you look like a casino and not a playground - and  being it your farm in Hay Day or eating your way through candy land in Candy Crush, in competitive social games it is natural that most players would prefer spending their time on a playground, because at the end of the day, isn't that the sole reason the vast majority of players open games on their smartphone - to play.

Below is IHS Techonolgy and App Annie's Digital Content Report of 2013. The top ten list of publishers by money spend. How many of the games made by the publishers on this list have clear or sublet pay to win elements in regards to progression or competitive aspects of their games? Think about it for a second. 

Whether you like it or not, a lot of games, especially within a certain genre, allow for pay to win and since more and more are doing it, players begin to lower their pitchforks and put out those torches and just accept that this is the business model that these games follow. Some players then focus on the social aspect and the actual having of fun and killing of time, and leave the competitive to the people who are willing to throw money at the task of climbing the ranking ladder. 

But is this a bad thing? 

Not necessarily. Well designed games are finding the balance between offering a intrinsically fun-driven experience and allowing people to spend like crazy because they want to be the best. But with pay to win model, how do you ensure casual and social players still add to your revenue. 

What you need to keep in mind is that people don't like to recognize a pay to win pattern, ultimately making them never open the app again, so here is a few examples of what to avoid when implementing a pay to win business model, and keep the casual players happy.

Skipping Play-Driven Progression
Play-driven progression is the type of progression where you actually have to play and interact with the game in order to progress. Think of activities like planting or harvesting your crops in Hay Day, or deploying your troops in a strategy game like Clash of Clans. 
Being able to pay to not play is one of the worst warning sign a game can have. This is quickly picked up by the player and leaves players in the mindset that this game will do anything to make them buy more. 

An example of this could be Royal Revolt 2, flaregames mid-evil themed sequel. The game delivers progression at a fun pace and lets then player feel very powerful, very fast. This is good. 

You can of course opt to pay your way out of waiting, like you would any other strategy building game. The problem occurs when the player realizes that your King (like a champion or hero) can level up through the magic of hard currency. Your king gains experience points and rises in level when you raid other castles. Only when raiding other castles, or in other words, actually play and interact with the game. And do not get me wrong. It is not the fact that the king is the most powerful unit and that leveling him up is a huge advantages, it is the mere fact that the game allow a player to become better by avoiding interaction and paying to win.

Another great example is from the social soccer manager game Top Eleven which is primarily played on Facebook. One would think that the fun about this game would be to be a strategic mastermind and get the reward for all your hard work through the progression of your player and your results over time. For people who don't give a shit about that the game lets you instantly improve your players up to approx twice as good as all the 'normal' players you'll see on the transfer list. Doing this for one player would cost somewhere in the range of 100-300$ (ACTUAL USD!!) multiply that by the eleven players on your team.

This is not only skipping play-driven progression, but this is almost mocking the casual and social player that is in this to have fun and potentially win form time to time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing players to save some time of slightly improve their chances of A, B and C, but this is ridicules.

King says 4 percent of its users — about 12 million people — are regular buyers, who are spending an average of $17.32 a month.

Though four percent can generate that amount of revenue, it would still be naive to neglect the last 96% of the players, whether or not they are bringing in any revenue, it still provide those four percent with a huge motivation to spend even more than they are now. And who are those players? 

The casual players! 

so don't chase away the players that are in it for the fun of it. The big spending whales will find their way into the net almost by default if you allow people to spend money. The hard part it to figure out what should be for sale in the game, but one thing is certain. You shouldn't allow people to pay to not play.

I'll continue tomorrow with more examples of Pay To Win that might hurt the overall revenue.

**Disclaimer: If 12 million people spend an average of $17.32 throughout the entire year of 2013, they would exceed the total annual revenue king.com generated in 2013, which is why those numbers might not be entirely representative**

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