How F2P ‘Founder’s Packs’ Offer Great Deals at Great Risk
Founder’s packs for Firefall
Founder’s packs emulate Kickstarter
This is the primary reason why founder’s packs do so well. Kickstarter is a phenomenon now, and linking purchases to the Kickstarter reward structure inextricably conjures the feeling of crowdfunding. Even though you are essentially pre-purchasing a free-to-play game, it feels like you are contributing to continued development. And you are! Just not in the sense of kickstarting a project.
This reward structure is simple: offer a number of tiers, with greater bonuses requiring more money. The more you are willing to shell out at once, the better deals you get. It works well in founder’s packs because it appeals to that consumer habit in us all: find the best deals possible. Founder’s packs are undoubtedly good deals.
They also bypass the typical problem of Kickstarter: not knowing when or if the project you funded will get off the ground. Despite using the crowdfunding method of promotion and sales, founder’s packs are exclusively for games that are already going to come out. They allow developers to accelerate their development schedule, sure, but they aren’t totally necessary for the game’s survival into adulthood.
Founder’s packs allow players to pre-purchase games they can’t normally pre-purchase
I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Founder’s packs are, in essence, pre-purchases for free games. You can’t exactly buy a free-to-play game before it’s out – unlike the pre-orders of retail games – so founder’s packs give players a way to guarantee a spot amongst an exclusive group. The group being those willing to slap money on the table for a game that is only partially done.
This pre-purchase allows developers to keep development going. As free-to-play titles can’t generally be bought before release (as they can’t be bought period), developing one is a massive money sink with no clear reward. Founder’s packs turn that around and offer a unique opportunity for players to buy a free-to-play game before it launches. If you told me that players would eat this up two years ago, I would’ve laughed at you. Not so much any more!
Founder’s packs for Dirty Bomb
Founder’s packs convert interested players into whales
Nope, not literal whales (although that would be cool). A whale is the term given to a player who spends a lot of money in a free-to-play game. These guys – the ones who spend over $500 on a game – are the backbone of the free-to-play industry. Predicting who becomes a whale is a difficult proposition, but when you have a way to convert players into whales before the game is released, it becomes a lot easier.
The axiom in free-to-play circles is that the more money a player spends, the more likely they are to stick with your game and continue spending. After all, they don’t want their “investment” to go to waste. Thus, a person who spends two bucks on a cosmetic is far less likely to stick with the game than a guy who spends a hundred buying an entire set. Whales stick around for a very long time, and aren’t lost to churn (players leaving and being replaced).
Founder’s packs allow developers to convert players into whales out of the starting gate. By dangling some exclusive founder’s rewards in front of them, developers get those interested in their game to shell out a lot of money before the game has even launched. After spending so much money, the players feel invested in the game and refuse to leave unless something especially heinous happens. It takes a lot to make someone who spent hundreds on a game actively quit.
It’s the same principle that applies to normal free-to-play item packages. Give a player a lot of stuff and make it so they spend a lot of money on your game, and they’ll stick around for a long time. Perhaps even until the game lifecycle ends. Normal packages require the game to actually be, y’know, functional, but founder’s packs have no such restriction thanks to their unique appeal. Developers can also shower the player with purchased currency, as they are likely to spend it before something really big (and worth the money they got from the founder’s pack) comes along.