F2P Summit: Freemium haters are 'xenophobic', says Boss Alien's Jason Avent

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F2P Summit: Freemium haters are 'xenophobic', says Boss Alien's Jason Avent
With the success of CSR Racing under his belt, Boss Alien MD Jason Avent took to the stage during his keynote at the F2P Summit in London to detail his mobile experiences to date.

Lesson one? PR lacks a real punch when it comes to freemium games.

Such is the size of a game like CSR Racing's audience, he claimed, that trying to communicate with that number of users through PR is a fruitless task.

No PR power

"It's not really worth doing PR beyond that first kicker to get in the charts," opened Avent.

"But because of the volume of people you get in a freemium game, you can't contact that many people through PR."

Mirroring his appearance at Develop in Brighton, Avent admitted Boss Alien had been "very, very lucky" to enjoy such success with CSR Racing.

"I'm shocked," he added. "In a good way, but I'm shocked."

Avent speculated that Boss Alien's smash could end up being the "biggest freemium game on iOS in 2012", with CSR Racing having amassed $12 million in revenue during its first month on the App Store.

Million dollar baby

Boss Alien – which was recently acquired by NaturalMotion – is not alone, however. According to Avent, $100 million mobile games are "happening now" for some of his rivals.

"The games industry is going to be bigger than it ever was," he added.

Specifically in regards to freemium, Avent said it's crucial not to try and entice the player into paying in play too early.

"Around the first 45 minutes of CSR Racing can be played for free," he said. "The thing is, the longer players have an association with the game, the longer that can evangelise about it with their friends and – crucially – the more likely they are to spend in play."

Indeed, Avent said people should be able to play for free as long as they want to, though it's fair game for a developer to decide just when players can play without paying and for how long.
CSR Racing players, for instance, can pay for gas to play on, but the road shouldn't be too bumpy for those that zip up their wallets.


Of the adverse reaction some gamers have had to the freemium model, however, Avent described some of the negative ratings CSR Racing has suffered due to its gas system as "xenophobia".

"This is early days for freemium," he added, claiming such an adverse reaction is to be expected when most users have grown up used to the premium model.

In fact, if users aren't complaining, he said, then your model is probably too cheap.

"This is how every business operates," he said. "You have to reach the point of resistance. You have to judge whether revenue matters to you."

Nonetheless, Avent concluded by repeating that "freemium games need to be free" in order to live up to their name.

"At the moment, freemium is like a dodgy used car salesman – we're still learning. We will get cleverer at all this eventually. Sell users what they want when they need it - that's the future, I think."

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.