Users' entitlement to free content

9 years ago from , Product Designer

As some of you might be aware, Monument Valley recently received a ton of 1 star reviews for charging for new content. To us designers and developers who spend hundreds of hours making the content, it is a no brainer that we have to pay for it. To others, they feel that a few dollars up front means that they get a lifetime of free updates. It's only getting worse with the popularity of freemium games.

The average user would much rather get a product for free and put up with ads and other nonsense, than to pay a small price for a premium experience.

Are any of you reconsidering your business model with the growing trend of free apps?


  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, 9 years ago

    Here's an interesting thought experiment: if I gave you $10, you'd probably be happy.

    Now if I gave you $20, but gave everybody else in the room $100, you'd probably be pretty bummed out. Even though you received more money than in the first example.

    This goes to show we're not rational. Ustwo could've released a new, separate app with just the new levels and nobody would've complained. Do it as a single app and (for some reason) people feel ripped off.

    The best you can do is learn how to manage people's irrationality, and take the good with the bad.

    2 points
    • Taron Ghazaryan, 9 years ago

      It's very funny you mentioned this. Last night I "experimented" a little and presented a similar scenario to a few people.

      Most of them felt that since new levels are being added to an existing title, it means the game was unfinished when it was released. They would gladly pay again for a second version though.

      0 points
  • Nathan NNathan N, 9 years ago

    Gamasutra did a follow up article and apparently it was only a vocal minority complaining against paid dlc.


    ...the general environment [smartphones] has trained people to expect low prices for huge amounts of content or even apps for free." (Gamasutra)

    1 point
  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, 9 years ago

    You don't go into restaurants expecting a free 2nd course.

    0 points
  • E BensleyE Bensley, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Actually yes, this was especially clear to us during the development of our most recent app. Between discussions with potential clients and interactions with test users we found that up front charges made for a significantly lower install rate (as well as profit). When we changed our revenue model to using in app purchases to expand details and add features, the users who were reluctant to purchase initially were able to see the value in the purchase having used the app in a basic way first.

    EDIT: To clarify, this was a project for a publisher dealing with self help books who wanted a way to both publish content and interact with users.

    0 points
    • Jerome Arfouche, 9 years ago

      That's really interesting. I haven't talked to anyone else about this but if I see an app is free with in-app purchases I don't download it, it feels sneaky and I don't like it. I'd rather pay the price up front, and pay for updates. I have a biased opinion though, I'm a developer

      1 point
      • Josh Carr, 9 years ago

        I'm similar to you. I'm hesitant to even try a freemium app because most of them are ridiculous and ask you pay too much for stupid things. I think freemium can work: free stuff, then one unlock everything IAP... but most freemium apps use some in-app currency that takes too long to accrue on its own. I don't support those apps. I do think that Monument Valley should've gone with a second app instead of the IAP.

        1 point
      • E BensleyE Bensley, 9 years ago

        I totally agree, and if ever I am buying or finding apps for my personal use I will avoid 'freemium' ones even if the reviews are positive, but this is as far as I can tell a byproduct of being involved with their development, and end users would rather avoid an up front payment if at all possible.

        0 points