Share this Story

Friday Poll: Freemium or Paid App Model?

Whenever Dead Trigger gets a mention, we can’t help but think about the launch controversy that initially accompanied it. Madfinger, the makers of the game, charged users for the game up front and then also hawked in-app purchases of guns and add-ons to help you cruise through levels easier. If you checked out the comments and reviews for the game during its first couple of weeks, you were bound to be overwhelmed by negativity. Thankfully, they made the game free after a short period of time, but kept the in-app add-ons.

Normally, app developers either go the freemium route (free app + in-app add-ons) or simply make you pay for it up front with no additional costs to follow. Madfinger threw everyone for a loop, but eventually came around to one of the standard models. And that brings us to today’s poll.

What would you rather deal with – freemium apps or paid apps with no additional add-ons?

Freemium or Paid App Model?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
  • Hi Guys,

    I work for Future Games of London. Whilst I don’t agree with charging up front for a game that is set-up for the freemium model (My bosses, the company directors sometimes do this, but I don’t think it should be that way), I can tell you that in the case of Grabatron we sold it as a paid only app with no IAPs at launch (xmas 2011), we only made %10 of what it cost to develop it. Put simply, people on the app store are no longer willing to pay up front for a game, we cannot get the cost to cover our development even when we only ask a dollar for it.

    However we re-jigged the game a little, added some IAPs (just currency) and a variety of new ships, upgrades and weapons (we made whole new content for the game) the put it back out at a free price tag and that time we started making the sort of money that we needed to earn back our development costs.

    We have reached a place in the app market where not enough people will not take a risk on a game that do not know and pay for it up front for it. We simply cannot make our money back when we develop a game and try to sell it like that. It doesn’t work.

    Therefore our next best option is to give it away for free and to let the real fans of the game (typically around %5 of the total people playing the game) to pay for upgrades in game. We always balance it so that it can be played without paying, we know that %95 of people will never pay, but we still need them to like the game and spread the word or we would never find the small group of guys that really go for it and sling some cash our way.

    To those of you who think we are greedy, I can tell you that it is laughable. None of us guys got into making games for money, we are all smart guys, if we had wanted money we would have gotten real jobs 😀

    It seems that this is the way that games are going now, but it doesn’t need to be a bad thing. Look at arcade machines, you dont think they were designed to eat your money too, you dont think they were designed to get you into it then ask you for money? There were plenty of great arcade hits.

    Anyhow, hit me back if you want to discuss.

    Kris Skellorn

    • what you say is true paid apps are a risky business and probably wont return developtment cost and fremium is an attractive prospect. but and here is a big but
      some companies have abused the fremium model in example we have a city village builder a la simcity we have coins and gems to build buildings so far so good a set of goals you can get coins from your buildings but gems are rare at average you only get 3 gems a week the rest you can buy it with real cash so far so good but to advance to the end you have to buy a bulding that cost 90 gems a bit pricey but loable then you need 500 gems to pay a required building and 20 gems cost 2 usd that means at least 50 usd to buy a required building to finish the game . so i dont know you but i call them greedy, i have used mmorpg with the fremmium model and it works why because they dont limit you if you dont have cash you dont advance simply it takes a bit longer

  • Follower

    Paid apps, I can pirate them easily 🙂

  • Erik Meyers

    So I voted pay app with no additional charges, but that may not be what I actually do. I hate paying for apps because I paid $700 for my contract free phone. Maybe devs need to get some of the overpriced phone money from OEM’s.

    I also think that MS may have it right with their market for windows phone. Most apps have a free version with limited functionality and then you can upgrade to the paid. Some Android ones do this too. It is not a bunch of little charges here and there, it is just “Ok, want it now?”

  • Most people here will clearly vote for “Paid apps with no additional charges” because that’s what they want, however, they’ll probably not buy as many apps. In addition, the freemium apps will typically have ads to help pay the developers for the users who never buy anything in-app.

    It’s also important to realize that this poll is only going to be answered by the more informed in the Android community. J.Q. Android-User wants all apps to be free and is unfortunately more likely to be persuaded to buy something once they like the app for more money than simply pay for the app to begin with.

  • www

    Paid apps are better but i think they should have guaranteed amount of updates per month until at least x% amount of customers are satisfied in their reviews. May be far fetched to get that much participation tho

  • Brent Stewart

    Freemium sucks. I’d rather spend a few bucks on a decent app than be barraged with ads that are always strategically placed near the most frequently touched areas of the screen which always inconveniently launches the ad in a browser while I’m trying to accomplish something or other.

  • NYAvsFan

    That pay w/premium model irritates the hell out of me. Want to not wait 6 hours to play this game more? Okay, pay us x$ and we’ll make it happen. What a crock. Have a free level to hook someone in and then charge a one time fee. Or just charge it up front.

  • jacker101

    Freemium is for Suckers!

  • Kernschatten

    Maybe, just maybe, if they disclosed the IAP costs up front, I might not find freemium so disagreeable.

  • qb87

    Talk about using a meme way out of context

  • The game space should be sacred: a balanced experience where everyone starts off on the same foot. The moment they start selling chunks of game utility, it throws off the balance and you have to wonder who the game is made for — the people trying to get through without paid extras, or, more likely, the player who gets hooked and just keep spending money.

    I don’t want a game that tells me I’m good because I paid extra. It’s like visiting a prostitute instead of getting a girlfriend.

  • SolipsisticPsychologist

    “Thankfully they made it free”? What are you stupid?! It should have been free to begin with, and we should thank them for ripping us off first by never stating in the description that it was a garbage pay-to-win app, then they turn around and lie about saying its free now because of piracy, haha, yeah they sold fifty thousand copies and its free cause of piracy, hahaha! Its free because they recieved a huge amount of justified backlash because they should have never double dipped and charged anything at all for crippled pay-to-win crap apps! And where is the compensation to the fifty thousand dollars they took from those of us who paid? Oh thats right, they get a free pass on that because they lie and say its because of piracy. Its too bad Greedfinger is your pimp and pays you to plug their dishonest wares, maybe if you pulled out of them, you could learn the word “objectivity”, and see them for what they truly are, despicable crooks that got busted for being crooks and then were pathetic enough to blame piracy. Well guess who is never supporting their crap again, me. I’ll make sure to upload copies of all their past games to torrent sites too, you know, to try and make it remotely believable that it was piracy and not corruption that made them rip people and become criminal scumbags.

  • Edward Smith

    10 Tastes great!
    20 Less filling!
    30 goto 10

  • RBI411

    As long as nobody pulls an Origin8 (the guys that made Sentinel 3) and have you pay for the app and then pay for an additional campaign it doesn’t really matter.

  • This is a tough one. I don’t mind the Free App and Paid version being separate but free apps with in-app upgrades do make more sense logistically. The biggest issue has to do with what you are paying for in-app and how sneaky it feels. I hate free games where you pay for upgrades to get an “advantage”. Team Fortress 2 is one of the few who get Freemium right. The game is free for all and paying does not give you an unfair advantage. You can still earn items through gameplay and the items themselves are either cosmetic or well-balanced so no major gameplay advantage is acquired.

  • Kevin Raymond

    Paid app for sure.

  • anon

    Upfront costs none of thos oh crap this app cost me XXXXX dollars FFFffff. Final levbel boss killer, no pass, no contuinue without. $59.99

  • scijohn
  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    Paid app. I wish freemium just stopped entirely. Either make an app completely free or sell it at a flat price. If there’s additional downloadable content that you create at a later time that you want a user to pay for, that’s all right (although I’d prefer all updates to be free, obviously), even console and handheld games do that nowadays, but don’t just make us pay for “100 coins” for stuff that’s already available in the game.

  • r0lct

    BTW +100 to Kellex for the fitting Star Wars clip. I definitely laughed.

  • Southrncomfortjm

    Most mobile games don’t hold my interest very long, so I’ll go the freemium route since I’ll be done playing the game long before I’m tempted to spend money on it. Dead Trigger is a good one for that, I played it for 20 minutes and haven’t touched it again.
    If I actually liked the game, I’d prefer a a one time reasonably priced purchase over freemium. The only game that even tempts me at the moment is Mass Effect: Infiltrator, but I’m not paying, or spending my N7 Google Play credit rather, on it at its $7 price.
    Maybe I’ll find Android gaming more appealing when a Wikipad like controller is released for the N7. Until then, my old PSP woks just fine on the go.

    • JoshGroff

      Bluetooth with a Sixaxis, also, the on screen controls of ME: Infiltrator are great.

      • Southrncomfortjm

        Yeah, I have the sixaxis controller set up to work, the issue is true portability. There isn’t a real comfortable way to use the controller with my N7 on my couch. That’s where the Wikipad-like controller comes into play. While bulky, I could use it anywhere I can sit or stand, though the weight may get tiring. And I really need a controller, I can’t get into a game that uses on screen controls.

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      No but these bassturds want their cake and to eat it too! They want to charge up front then they proceed to withold core feeatures, and extort them to you at ridiculous prices, you can’t friggin have it both ways! You don’t buy a damn car then when its paid off, they come and take your friggin steering wheel away and try to sell it back to you. I’m sure in whatever corrupt dictatorship cesspool country GreedyFinger resides in, this is par for course to rip off your customer and bleed every last penny out of them. But its happening here too with Rovio, Halfbrick, Future Games of London too, though thats across the pond. Free-to-pay, freemium, IAP, garbage, whatever you call it, has completely ruined all games and corrupted and turned a massive amount of developers and businesses into pathetic petty crooks. They will see one day when they’ve pushed the customers too far and people are fed up with being exploited and ripped off. They will see no one is willing to buy from them anymore after they revert back to actually giving people quality for their hard earned money. And its truly pathetic that Droid Life lets GreedFinger paying them to plug and do damage control, completely eradicate any objectivity or integrity, that is if they ever had any to begin with. And if any of you think they are getting paid to plug GreedyFinger, and talk them up, well, you need to unglue your smartphone from your melon and wake up, its truly pathetic im the only one who sees this for what it is.

  • conflicted, its nice to have the free app with the option to buy the paid version. sometimes i just want to check it out to see if i even like it

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Thats not the issue at hand. What Paid Life is talking about in the poll isn’t free versions or demos versus paid. It paid quality apps versus crippled garbage where core features are removed only to be sold back to you and most of the time you buy without knowing this up front. Dont believe me post your email, ill send screenshots of day one on Dead Trigger, no mention that its pay to win, and pay again by buying in the first place. Yeah its there now, after the fifty thousand dollars was taken and then turned free without giving fifty thousand refunds, and blatantly lying and blaming piracy. Might as well have blamed mother teresa.

  • At least when its a paid app you can go online and find a copy of the apk for free!

  • I don’t mind apps that use the “Free Limited Version / Full Paid Version” model and use an in app purchase to upgrade, but apps that are free with a bunch of different in app purchases are ridiculous.

    • JoshGroff

      That or like what PowerAMP and ROM Manager do, where you purchase a separate license key (on the market) to activate the full version.

    • JB

      This is the best model. Give free users a level or two to make sure that the game plays well and is functional on their device and then let them pay to get the full game. IAP are ok when they’re not essential to playing the game but they can bias the developer into making the game harder to force users into using IAP.

      • RedPandaAlex

        The only in-game add-ons for sale that I’m okay with are cosmetic–a different costume for your character, not a new type of weapon for example.

        • michael arazan

          I bought angry birds space premium to not deal with ads blocking the screen, and now they make you pay for levels even if you have the premium app. Other apps with in paid upgrades like grabatron allow you to constantly play for points and use the points for upgrades or buy points to upgrade. I don’t mind playing the same level 5-8 times to get the points for free upgrades with points.

    • RedPandaAlex

      I agree, but the market description needs to say what the full cost is.

      I’m also okay with buying a few levels at a time, but again, the market should say the full cost.

      But I’d rather upgrade a single app than have to re-download a paid version when I decide to buy it.

  • r0lct

    I think they both have their place.
    Freemium gives smaller devs the ability to get onto devices quicker than asking for $5 so I definitely see the value to have more games come to the market and be tried.

    However I think for Freemium they need to focus less on pay to play and more on customization and additional levels for pay.

    If a dev is saying basically “He’re a quality game and here’s 10 levels to prove it and if you agree buy the next 20 for $3 or $5” then I think that’s a fair balance. Also pay $0.5/$1 per costume/car/etc that doesn’t upgrade you but just allow more customization.

  • I have literally never played a freemium game that I actually enjoyed.

    • JoshGroff

      Have you played Zenonia 3?

  • I have to say that both have their place, in ap purchased or recurring costs for a service, or a paid up front cost for an application that does not have services tied to it. it really depends on what you are doing with the app.

  • nsauce7

    Even worse then free to play are paid games with on disc dlc, if any of you play console games

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Amen, its a friggin insult and slap in the face. It proves right there that nothing good has or will come from freemium sh!t. it turns respectable devs into scumbags that care solely about money and ethics and integrity be damned.

  • Adam Marr

    I’m all for supporting developers. I do prefer the paid-app model. I am also willing however to pay for in-app purchases on free games if the price is right and I enjoy the game. Giving Halfbrick $.99 for double coins in Jetpack Joyride (a quality free game) is just a good way to get a nice in-game bonus, and support a good developer. Paying $5.00 for 100 ‘gold coins’ that let me buy a pretty statue to put in my town, or paying $.99 every time I want to play a game without a ‘cooldown’ period is just stupid. Delete.

  • Joyu

    One good thing about fremium is that the developer continue to support the app to get more money out of people. Many paid apps do not get updated to support new Android build etc. In theory it should be the same since they have to support the app to get new buyers but a lot of the time I have not seen it happening.

    • True. I guess it depends on the developer too. The real PITA ones are when you NEED to end up paying to finish the game… why not just make it a pay game to start, although I guess it’s basically the same demo or shareware model we’ve seen forever.

      • SolipsisticPsychologist

        no its not and its especially not when criminal developers are now charging for freemium or turning around and turning once paid apps into freemium and ripping off everyone who paid already by revoking features they once paid for and had. i cant believe more people arent outraged and ptting these crroks on a spit. if you buy in app purchases on mobile or on a computer, you are helping to destroy games as we used to them, when we actually got our moneys worth. Just wait, soon there wont even be quality paid games to buy it will all be crippled trash. i just dont understand gamers today, maybe its because mommy and daddy up their allowance after theyve spent one hundred dollars farming virtual crops. This new generation of gamers should learn about reaping what you’ve sown.

  • Wow, I’m a little surprised at how bad the freemium model is doing (17% at the time of this post)

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Then you must peddle freemium garbage and swindle customers for a living, congratulations, you are gaming bacteria, the kind that causes yeast infections.

  • I can deal with either model. Freemium is nice, because I get all of the features, but don’t have to buy. Where I incur frustration is what happened with Dead Trigger or Dungeon Defenders, where I buy the game and then they make it freemium. Choose one and stick with it. Don’t play me for a sap.

    • JB

      I bought both as well (thankfully DT gave us the free bonus content though).

  • PhillipNorris

    Paid apps no charges afterwards

  • vitriolix

    I buy a lot of games if they look good, and especially if they have a demo that let’s me try them out. F2P games with IAP usually just means you can’t really advance by perseverance or skill, just if you fork out money. What’s the point?

  • Fattie McDoogles

    As a consumer I would always prefer to pay in advance then have access to everything. It’s usually cheaper that way. When you have to pay per item they can keep releasing items to charge you for which can become pretty costly pretty quickly

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    In-App purchases are a complete ripoff. Charge for the app and leave it at that.

  • Bauce40

    Only problem with paid apps is if you pay $7 for a game and it sucks. By the time it’s finished downloading you’re past the return period. At least with freemium you can try it out, but I would prefer an unadulterated experience and just pay outright.

    • vitriolix

      Agreed. The return policy is a complete joke for these kinds of games. Those makers should be smart and release a demo

    • Agreed. Even though it’s still not perfect, even giving 1 hour would be a lot better.

    • theentropic

      While I see your point (it’s definitely valid) – you could easily make the same argument about all video games. Once you open up the packaging of a game, you can’t return it so to speak. I know that with video games you can always rent the game to try it out – so I think that if developers wanted to release a demo of the game for people to try out (like vitriolix said), would be the best of all the options.

    • Southrncomfortjm

      I thought the 15 minute return policy didn’t start until the game was actually installed.
      Also, you can still get a refund after 15 minutes, you just have to do a bit more legwork.

  • Nick

    Where’s the option for free app with in-app advertisements?

    • JoshGroff

      See, something I don’t mind, I actually prefer it over IAPs.

      • michael arazan

        I guess they don’t make enough money on those ad versions, and in a lot of apps, if you turn on airplane mode before you open the app, there won’t be ads

        • JoshGroff

          Or, some people use an ad blocker (I personally don’t.)

  • EvanTheGamer

    You kiddin’ me?!

    Paid apps with no additional charges.…without a shadow of a bloody doubt!

  • Freemium, if the in-app purchase is a one-time purchase unlocking key. Otherwise, in-app purchases typically are not configured to be in the best interests of the user.

    • moelsen8

      i’d be more willing to support freemium if in-app purchases were saved (minus completely used-up ones, of course).

      i have no confidence in devs to save that kind of stuff judging by how very few (if any) backup app data to the cloud (support’s been there in market for a long time).

      • r0lct

        That’s a great point that was thinking about to. Without cloud backup then you lose your IAP’s when you wipe your device. Or if you play the same game on your phone and tablet you want to know you don’t have to buy for each.

        • moelsen8

          from what i’ve read, the dev can specify whether they save to the google account or not. but most don’t, obviously. i guess this goes hand-in-hand with cloud-saves though. it should be forced by google.

          • Big_EZ

            If this was a requirement then I might give it a shot, but until then I will notspend a cent on a freemium game. I wioe my phone and change phones to often.

          • moelsen8

            right there with you.

    • vitriolix

      Agreed, some devs are smartly using IAP as a way of demoing the game to the user and letting them unlock it in game. That makes sense to me. If you are buying a known quantity I have no problem with it. As long as the purchase doesn’t affect the gameplay I’m fine with it

    • SolipsisticPsychologist

      Its refreshing to see someone who actually can identify what freemium actually is and its goal, as referenced by your last sentence. All of you people supporting it, well i will relish the day when you go on to a forum to complain about how they just dont make quality games anymore man, its like you have to pay for every core feature now. And ill say, “gee wonder how they got that idea, or what reinforced it in their mind that could nickel and dime games to death? It surely wasnt all of these people supporting this trash and defending it and paying five or six times what a game was actually worth, just so they could buy back the gun they started off with because it was taken away at level four and sold in the store.”…..yep ill enjoy lettingall of you uninformed or apathetic people know that you killed video games.

  • moelsen8

    never bought an in-app purchase (except rom manager touch recovery to support dev).. and never will.

    • r0lct

      Never say never… 😛

      • moelsen8

        Ok. I’m more likely to get struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark than buy an IAP any time soon.

        • r0lct

          Edit: fixed the quote:
          So you’re telling me there’s a chance…

          • moelsen8

            our pets heads are falling off! haha

          • moelsen8

            i wasn’t going to correct you 🙂

          • r0lct

            I was worried I butchered it so bad someone wouldn’t make the connection, but turns out I was pretty close.

          • moelsen8

            my wife actually quotes that line exactly the way you had it, which is why i knew what you were referring to! but it was’t bad!

      • SolipsisticPsychologist

        Says an apathetic moron, or a dev who rapes his game so he can get rich quick off of the death of modern video games. Enjoy that foot in your mouth in the future, im sure im just some outraged nut to everyone, well do you read the trade magazines and sites for video games and see the disturbing talk about how this is the business model that will fund all gaming in the future? No, well im sure you dont mind getting bled to play a game, or someone else funds your entertainment budget. Nobody can see the forest from the trees, but at least some of you get what a precipice of game destruction this is, i hope. Its not a fad like i once thought, i fear for the next Xbox. You already have massive amounts of day one dlc and on disc dlc. how can people accept this sh!t, was buying a game and getting what you paid for that bad of a deal before? You want to decide if you can afford to buy the ending to the newest Halo? DEPIERTA LOS NINOS!

        • r0lct


          Whether you pay upfront or as you go, they bleed you. Example: every crappy video game I shelled out $60 for and was non refundable the moment I opened the wrapper. Or every $5 mobile game I didn’t realize would be endlessly repetitive until the sixteenth minute.