Research Shows Only 2.2% of Free-to-Play Users Buy Stuff

App testing firm Swrve has reported that only 2.2% of free-to-play users actually end up buying something or paying for anything in the games they play.

Swrve watched 10 million new players in 30 games over 90 days and noticed that spending was not even among users and that 46% of revenue came from just 10% of paying users.

Swrve further discovered that player retention continues to be a huge challenge to developers as over 60% of users tracked quit playing a game within 24 hours of downloading and installing the software.

The report continues to stress that early monetization is important in both getting users to pay and in retention, but I would argue that maintaining a satisfying gameplay loop within the "free-zone" before asking a user to pay anything would prove more successful in both areas.

For example, The Simpsons: Tapped Out came bootstrapped with EA's Origin service, but by maintaining a ton of free content through updates and special events, the app has clung to the top 100 charts. Having a killer brand like The Simpsons doesn't hurt the title either.

Why are so many players bouncing out of free-to-play games or never paying a cent to the developers? Most of the mechanics suck! Everything is a copy of everything else. The app market has lowered the cost of publishing interactive software, but that shouldn't be an excuse for lazy game design or cash-grabbing mechanics.