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Why you shouldn’t be surprised that only 2.2 per cent of F2P players spend money

By on April 29, 2014
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I was recently interviewed by Eurogamer about Swrve’s revelation that only 2.2 per cent of F2P gamers spend any money. I had thought it was going to be a piece with lots of contributors, but I guess I said enough for Eurogamer to give me a post all of my own.


The comments (210 of them at last count) are surprisingly interesting. Once you strip the handful of “I hate F2P just because” comments, that are useful insights into what a vocal minority of gamers dislike about free-to-play games.

And on more personal note, I have been surprised at the vitriol aimed at my use of the word “freeloaders”. It seems that gamers are just as negative about being called freeloaders (even though I am clear that companies should love their freeloaders) as they are about being called whales.

You can read the full article at Eurogamer.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
  • Nate

    Thanks Nicholas, I’ll let you know once I have something written up. Regarding a new word for freeloader, I gave it some thought and for a bit of humor go ahead and type freeloader into and you’ll quickly see the resulting synonyms are less than flattering. 🙂 I like themes and if we are calling big spenders “superfans” then why not call the free players “free fans”. They are after all “fans” if they are playing your game or using your service, etc, and they are free in the sense that if “super” fans are contributing the most to your bottom line in terms of money spent, then it stands to reason that the “free” fans are contributing the least to the bottom line in terms of money spent. I can’t see anyone objecting to being called a “free fan”. Personally this F2P vocabulary shift is a move in the right direction from the current usage of words like “whale” which always sounded tactless and rude to me. Just as many objected to being called a freeloader I doubt many would appreciate being called a whale. 🙂

  • Hello Nate,Two things:
    – We’d love to host that guest post, particularly if you share data
    – I think I do need a better word than freeloaders. I hadn’t realised it carried such negativity. I don’t want to use free players simply because in the Curve, I need it to refer to customers of industries ranging from swimming pools to flour, so “players” is too specific.

    I might have to use free players in games until I come up with a better one though.

  • Nate

    Hey Nicholas, first off thanks for all the awesome data on Gamesbrief and ebooks, my game is much better because of them. Regarding this article, I too was a bit surprised when I bought your ebooks and saw some articles where you referred to free players as “freeloaders”. As a subscriber to Gamesbrief I know you don’t view them negatively and actively sing their praises, however, “freeloaders” is a loaded word and most I think associate it with some sort of negativity. I saw you made a shift awhile back regarding the name “whales”. You instead ditched the old industry jargon and started calling them “superfans”. I thought this was a very smart move and wondered why you didn’t come up with a similar name for free players. I might suggest simply calling them “free players” from this point forward due to the stigma associated with “freeloaders”. It exactly describes what they are without the negative connotation.

    The comments on that article were interesting for me because for some time now I’ve been meaning to write an article (and ask questions) on why anytime I see an article about F2P gaming the vast majority of the comments are negative yet the industry is booming. Is this simply a vocal minority? I see the data from my game and some other games and clearly there are a lot of happy people. Do they just not join in on the conversation? I’m guessing that is likely the case.

    I’m of the opinion that F2P still has an uphill PR battle to undo so much of the damage that early F2P games caused. Many of your tools and resources have been great in making progress in a positive direction.