The video game industry is rapidly shifting towards new monetization models that depart from the traditional upfront pricing of $60 or so for a complete gaming experience. One of the most popular new models is ‘play as you pay’, which breaks the gameplay into smaller pieces and charges players for access to additional content, abilities, tools and so on as they play.
But is this model better for gamers’ wallets and overall enjoyment, or does it introduce frustrating barriers to a satisfying gaming experience? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the full pros and cons of the play as pay model to help you decide if it’s right for you.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the play as you pay model allows more players initial access to games by eliminating an upfront pay wall, but it risks frustrating players by constraining gameplay or pushing aggressive monetization if not implemented carefully.
In this roughly 3000 word guide, we’ll start by defining the play as pay model and looking at some popular examples of games utilizing it effectively and not so effectively. We’ll analyze the benefits and drawbacks of the model from both a player enjoyment and business revenue standpoint.
We’ll also provide tips for players on getting the most out of play as you pay games without overspending. Let’s dive in.
Defining the Play as You Pay Model
The Play as You Pay model is a relatively new approach to video game monetization that offers players the opportunity to access and enjoy a game without having to pay the full price upfront. Instead, players can choose to pay for the game in smaller increments or through microtransactions as they progress through the game.
Upfront Costs vs. Microtransactions
Traditionally, video games required players to pay a fixed upfront cost to purchase the game. This model often deterred some players from trying out new games, as they were unsure if the game would be worth the investment.
With the Play as You Pay model, players have the option to try out a game for free or at a reduced cost, allowing them to make a more informed decision about whether they want to continue playing and invest more money into the game.
Microtransactions are a key component of the Play as You Pay model. These are small in-game purchases that players can make to enhance their gaming experience, such as buying virtual currency, cosmetic items, or additional content.
The idea is that players can choose to spend money on the aspects of the game that they find most valuable, rather than paying for everything upfront.
It’s important to note that microtransactions should be implemented carefully to avoid creating a pay-to-win scenario, where players who spend more money have a significant advantage over those who don’t.
Balancing the availability and pricing of microtransactions is crucial to ensure a fair and enjoyable gaming experience for all players.
Examples of Play as You Pay Done Right and Wrong
When done right, the Play as You Pay model can be a win-win situation for both players and game developers. One example of this is the popular game Fortnite, which offers the base game for free and generates revenue through microtransactions for cosmetic items.
This approach has allowed Fortnite to reach a massive player base and generate billions of dollars in revenue.
On the other hand, some games have faced backlash for implementing the Play as You Pay model in a way that feels exploitative or unfair. One notable example is the release of Star Wars Battlefront II, which received criticism for its heavy reliance on microtransactions that affected gameplay progression.
This led to a significant backlash from players and forced the developers to make changes to the game’s monetization system.
Benefits of the Play as You Pay Model
Lower Barriers to Entry
The Play as You Pay model has the potential to significantly lower the barriers to entry for gamers. In traditional video game purchasing models, players are required to pay a large upfront cost to buy a game.
This can be a deterrent for those who are hesitant to spend a substantial amount of money on a game they may not enjoy or play for an extended period of time. With the Play as You Pay model, players have the option to try out a game without making a full payment upfront.
This allows for a more affordable and risk-free way to access and experience new games.
Continued Revenue for Developers
One of the major advantages of the Play as You Pay model is the opportunity for developers to generate continued revenue. In the traditional model, developers rely on the initial purchase of the game to generate income.
However, with the Play as You Pay model, developers can benefit from ongoing payments as players continue to play and enjoy the game. This creates a sustainable revenue stream that can support ongoing development, updates, and improvements.
More Options for Different Play Styles
The Play as You Pay model offers more options for gamers with different play styles and preferences. Some players may prefer to complete a game quickly and move on to the next one, while others may enjoy taking their time to fully explore and immerse themselves in a game world.
With the Play as You Pay model, players can choose to pay for a game as they progress, allowing them to customize their gaming experience to suit their individual preferences. This flexibility provides a more personalized and enjoyable gaming experience for players.
Drawbacks and Risks of Play as You Pay
While the play as you pay video game model may offer convenience and flexibility for gamers, it is not without its drawbacks and risks. It’s important for gamers to be aware of these potential downsides before diving into this payment model. Here are some of the key concerns:
Paywalls that Constrain Gameplay
One of the main criticisms of play as you pay models is the implementation of paywalls that restrict gameplay. In some games, certain features or levels may only be accessible after making a payment. This can be frustrating for players who feel like they are constantly being limited in their gaming experience.
Additionally, paywalls can create a sense of unfairness, as players who are willing to pay more may have an advantage over those who cannot afford to do so.
Hard to Avoid Aggressive Monetization Tactics
Another concern with play as you pay models is the potential for aggressive monetization tactics. Game developers may use various strategies to entice players to make purchases, such as pop-up ads, limited-time offers, or exclusive in-game items.
These tactics can sometimes feel intrusive and pushy, making players feel like they are constantly bombarded with requests to spend money. It can also create a sense of pressure to keep up with other players who may be investing heavily in the game.
Difficulty Budgeting Spending
Play as you pay models can also make it challenging for players to budget their spending. With the temptation of in-game purchases always present, it can be easy to overspend and lose track of how much money is being invested in the game.
This can lead to financial strain for players who find themselves spending more than they initially intended. It’s crucial for gamers to exercise self-control and set limits on their spending to avoid falling into this trap.
While play as you pay models offer certain advantages, it is important to be aware of these potential drawbacks and risks. By understanding the limitations and being mindful of one’s spending, players can make informed decisions about their gaming habits and ensure a positive gaming experience.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Play as You Pay Games
Set Firm Budgets
When engaging with play as you pay video game models, it’s essential to set firm budgets to avoid overspending. These models often allow players to access the game for free but charge for additional features or content.
It can be tempting to keep making small purchases, but without a budget, these expenses can quickly add up. By setting a limit on how much you are willing to spend, you can enjoy the game without breaking the bank.
Focus on Skill Not Purchases
One of the keys to getting the most out of play as you pay games is to focus on developing your skills rather than relying on purchases to progress. Many of these games offer in-app purchases that can give players an advantage, but they can also detract from the sense of achievement.
Instead of relying solely on purchases, take the time to practice and improve your gameplay. This way, you can fully enjoy the game and experience a greater sense of accomplishment.
Seek Out Fairer Models
Not all play as you pay video game models are created equal. Some games may have more fair and balanced payment systems than others. It’s worth doing some research and seeking out games that offer fairer models.
Look for games that provide equal opportunities for players to progress, regardless of their willingness to spend money. Additionally, consider games that offer regular updates and new content without excessive costs.
This way, you can get the most value out of your gaming experience without feeling pressured to make constant purchases.
The play as you pay model marks a notable shift in how players pay for and interact with video games. When implemented thoughtfully, it can lower barriers to entry and provide continued revenue for developers to support games long-term.
However, the model risks frustrating players with gameplay-constraining paywalls and aggressive monetization tactics if not handled carefully.
For players, being aware of the pros and cons of play as you pay can help set proper expectations. Setting firm budgets, focusing on skill advancement rather than purchases, and seeking out fairer pay models can help maximize enjoyment.
Overall, play as you pay presents opportunities but also pitfalls that both players and developers must navigate carefully.