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Glossary for the board meeting – 9 key terms

By on September 21, 2012

I was at a meeting with Patrick (@patrickol) from nDreams, which involved people from outside the games industry. To help those people, he circulated this glossary of nine key terms was circulated. I thought it was useful to repost it here. For other useful games and online business jargon, see our glossary resource.

Free to play

A relatively new business model which has rapidly become the dominant model for online games. Players can play a game for free, but if they enjoy the game, are encouraged to pay money for added convenience, quicker progress, to “show off” or for more content. The core principle is that ‘true fans’ can pay many hundreds (often thousands) of pounds if they love the game enough, whereas people who would never had paid for the game anyway are able to play for free and contribute to the community and spread word of mouth about the game.


A device around the size of a book with a touchscreen and no keyboard. The bestselling tablet at the moment is the iPad (from Apple), but other tablets based on the Android operating system have been successful , notably the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.

Operating system

The software (often combined with bespoke online services like billing and an app store) built into a PC or device that allows users to do stuff with it. Windows is the best-known operating system on PC, but other major operating systems are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.


The Apple operating system found on all iPhones and iPads. Players buy games and items using the Apple billing system, and buy games/music/video from the App Store and iTunes.


The Google operating system. Unlike iOS (which can only be found on Apple hardware), Android is an ‘open’ operating system which can be installed by any hardware manufacturer. This has enabled its rapid growth. Google Play is the main ‘App Store’ on Android, but being open, there are others.


A new technology standard (still a little incomplete) that allows high-quality games and experiences to run within web browsers.

Native app

A game or application which has been designed specifically for an operating system like iOS or Android. All the games in the App Store or Google Play are ‘native’ which means they install and play directly on the device.

Browser game

A game which runs ‘within’ a web browser – predominantly on PC and Mac at the moment. All Facebook games are technically browser games, but browser games don’t need to be connected to Facebook. A key feature is that the games start instantly without the player needing to download and install anything. Technically, a browser game can run within the web browser on an iPad or Android tablet, using any payment system in exactly the same way it would work on a PC.


A hybrid business model where people pay (often a small amount) up front to buy a game, then can pay additional money in a free-to-play style for items, content and so on.


A piece of software that helps us to create 3D games for all the key platforms and to quickly convert a game from one platform to another.

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: