Mobile Gaming Europe 2012: Lovell defines the difference between Whales and True Fans

#mobilegamingeurope Splitting hairs?

Mobile Gaming Europe 2012: Lovell defines the difference between Whales and True Fans

Anyone who's been around the mobile games conference scene for any length of time will have likely heard a talk from Nicholas 'Freemium' Lovell.

The consultant was happy to expand his perceived remit, though, at the Mobile Gaming Europe conference in London.

"I'm not a freetard. I'm not completely obsessed by free," he said.

"Paymium is fine if you have enough marketing resource to overcome the friction of your game being paid."

Open doors

His wider point is that to be successful in the games business, you need a very large audience and being free is the easiest way to generate this.

Yet, maybe the surprising fact is despite these large audiences, only a tiny proportion of them are valuable in terms of generating direct revenue.

For example, German browser game publisher Bigpoint found that in one game Dark Orbit, 0.02 percent of its audience was generating the majority of its revenue.

However, the rest of the playing audience is important because people will spend a lot of money to impress (or defeat) their friends and the general playing audience.

'People don't pay for content but they will pay for status,' Lovell stated.

Big beasts

Of course, this argument is the basic construction of the so-called 'whale'; that is a player who will spend hundreds of dollars because they love your game so much.

There's much argument about just how big whales are.

Lovell's working definition is that 'whales are the users who make up 50% of your revenue', although pointing out that such players are likely best defined by their behaviour, not by the hard spending patterns.

Still, anecdotal evidence states that some games companies have player - often labeled as professional soccer players - who are spending $1,000 daily for months or even years.

Similarly, it's said that in China, some game companies have physical VIP support stores for their games that are only available for players who have spent more than $100,000 (or perhaps $1 million - it's China, so no one knows right?).

Yet, moving on from whales, perhaps the better definition is 'True Fan' - the people who spend a lot of money and also act as evangelists for your game.

"Whales might be the people who spend $100 in your game and regret it, while True Fans spend $100 and tell all their friends about it," Lovell ended.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.