Survey: 86% of Gamers Prefer Ads in Free Games Over Paying For Games

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Survey: 86% of Gamers Prefer Ads in Free Games Over Paying For Games

cash money

An EA-backed survey brings in a whole lot of new math to support the "freemium" business model and integrating advertising in games.

New data offers some pretty shocking predictions on the purchasing trends of the gamer population over the next few years. A study conducted among 500 gamers by IHS Technology found that 86 percent of players would rather have a free game, supported by ads and in-game transaction, than pay full price for the game itself.

IHS also predicted that micotransactions spent on "freemium" games will account for 39 percent of the total money spent on video games in North America by 2017. Likewise, mobile, tablet and PC gaming, where the majority of games using freemium business model are found, will account for 54 percent of the spending on games content by 2017.

IHS also forecasted that by 2017 only 10 percent of mobile and tablet games will earn their revenue through a paid download, reflecting how prevalent the freemium model will become at that time.

The study was conducted on behalf of Electronic Arts and WildTangent, a company that powers game services for different companies, including PC gaming sites used by EA. The games tracked in the study were EA freemium titles using "EA2/BrandBoost" technology, which featured in-game ads such as long form video, custom mini-games, and branded in-game content.

If a player chooses to interact with an in-game ad, they will usually be rewarded with a game item or, for games that only let you play for so long each day, additional playtime. The survey also found that gamers were more likely to play longer after experiencing an ad that game them an in-game item. The study also notes that gamer's are more positively disposed towards an ad if it happens at the beginning of a game or during a natural pause in the action.

One thing to keep in mind with this study is that it tracks people who are already playing freemium games, so the assertion that people already invested in that model would like to see more of it shouldn't be that surprising.

More information is available on the IHS survey here, but you'll need to go through a registration screen to access it.

What do you think of this data? Are these trends worth continuing or does the game industry need to get back to basics?

Source: IHS via GamePolitics

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As long as they aren't intrusive I don't see any problem with ads in free games.
You know, during loadingscreens or while you're waiting to respawn.

The sample size seems incredibly low to accurately predict anything about the population

Well those 86% of gamers are my enemies. I'd rather buy a game any day of the week than play a free game littered with micro transactions and stupid timers

I don't like this development. Not at all.

Ads like you find them in typical casual games for your phone (e.g. Angry Birds) are one thing. One frame that shows up in the upper right corner from time to time and doesn't interfere with the game and ads during the loading screens. Fine by me, beats paying three bucks for the ad free version.

But making ads an integral part of the gameplay is a totally different story. Depending on how far EA pushes it, it can be everything from "watch this ad to receive a free healing potion when you're stuck" to "watch five minutes worth of ads to get a key item required to process". Or let's do it TV style: every thirty minutes of play time nets you a five minute block of ads you can't skip. Making it interactive to ensure people don't just take a leak while it runs would be no problem.

Nope, this won't end well...

The games tracked in the study were EA freemium titles

So their survey of people who play free-to-play games showed that they would rather watch ads and not have to pay to play their free-to-play games?

What next, a survey of Battlefield players that shows gamers like to play modern military shooters?

And yeah, I don't really mind adverts in games as long as they aren't intrusive and as long as a game isn't mixing a retail cost, microtransactions AND adverts in to the payment model. I wouldn't want them in a game that isn't free-to-play though.

The study also notes that gamer's are more positively disposed towards an ad if it happens at the beginning of a game or during a natural pause in the action.

Seems fair enough. Although imagine if developers start deliberately putting in loading screens just so they can have more ads in their games! [/tinfoilhat]

It should at least have an option to pay a one-time fee and receive no ads. Give people more economic freedom by having multiple payment options

My reaction:

I'm perfectly OK with relevant ads on websites and services that I support (like Escapist), but if I'm ever immersed in a game, free or otherwise, and an ad pops up, even on a loading screen, that game goes in the trash. If it's a digital game, I will find a way to burn it to a DVD JUST to throw it in the trash. Maybe that's overreacting, but if a development studio and/or publisher decides to overtly disrupt my experience by giving ad agencies higher concern than their customers and consumers, then I don't want anything to do with that studio anymore. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if mobile games already do this, but I don't play mobile games so my concern is just that tactic infecting other platforms. Obviously there's some level of advertisement in games on every platform but usually, and ideally, there's some subtlety to it and it does not disrupt or interrupt the experience and may even be used to poke fun.

I honestly haven't learned that many things in this life. But on of them is that slippery slope applies to advertisers more then anything else on this world.

The ads may start small and unobtrusive, but they never stay that way.

I remember that back when Obama was first running for election, Burnout Paradise actually had ads of him up on the in-game Billboards, least I recall reading something about that.
Personally, if the adverts are more like that, I wouldn't mind.

Here EA goes again.

We've decided that X is the next big thing, so we're going to publish loads of 'research' to justify ourselves as we arbitrarily blitz on it and shoehorn it into every single product we create, in three years time we will quietly abandon the strategy having suffered some hilarious and tragic failures that have rendered several of our expensive IP and developers acquisitions moot.

But right now the board is stoked for it!

Here we go again, Online Pass, Project (sucky sucky) Ten Dollar, Securom and online multiplayer for everything are about to get some new playmates. While we're at t, how are those micro transactions and 'freemium elements' in your major titles doing EA? How's Dead Space 4 coming along?

Remember that we now have the next generation of people who play video games solely on their mobile devices or tablets. Most started with games not with a dedicated console but instead their mother or father handing them their mobile device or tablet and tell them to play with that device. To which later on their parents would just buy them a tablet instead.

That is the future. So it makes sense that when you poll 500 people that they wouldn't want to spend any actual money but instead watch an ad because that is what they are used to now. It is what we are all used to now and it shows even right here on this website. Once the entrepreneurs leave, the ads start rolling in to keep said support afloat. Doesn't matter what the content is.

Not to mention with the demographic that has grown on the other end in terms of elderly and middle age adults, they are more prone to playing online games that plagued by ads as well. Because it is all about the ease of access. Which is why Solitaire and windows games are the main reason women are a bigger representation of people who play video games on the ESA statistics.

What do I think of this data?

I want to know who these 'gamers' are, they certainly don't sound like they are core gamers, just the spuds on mobile devices.

Am I the only person who read this and literally felt like the fucking gaming apocalypse has been announced. Quote me on this, I will never play free to play games and pay a damn cent. The entire concept is bulshit. An uneven playing field for players and it would just be irritating with ads and hitting constant pay walls. They think for some people over time they can pump far more than AAA retail price with one of these. Fuck EA so much they are the ruination of the industry and other companies end up following their dirty lead. And I really do not want to use this term but I bet most of that survey was filthy casuals who dont even have a console and just play shit on their phone.

Maybe there is a market for this sort of gaming abomination, but there is also one for real gamers. We drop the most cash and we are sustainable. Problem with us is we have long memories and high expectations, two things which EA dread. The person who doesnt know which way the pad goes who just got their new smart phone is NOT a sustainable market.

I know I would!

I don't play a lot of free games but the ones on flash and the few android ones I play have a little banner ad at the bottom and that's it. Give me that kind all day long! I get entertainment for fuck all and the dev gets a little something.

As for microtransactions and pay to win, they can go fuck themselves off a high cliff!

I am definitely not in that group. I'd rather buy a game outright than even play a F2P game. The design of a game is generally compromised the moment it is F2P because every single piece of it is designed to suck money from people. I also can't stand ads unless they are just on loading screens. However, then I'd see EA enforcing loading screens where they aren't needed just to make me see them more often.
I guess that means I am against F2P and ads. I prefer just buying my games.

If it's on my mobile, I'd rather pay for the game than have some ads that suck my battery faster because they are phoning home on my dime. The amount of battery a phone has during the day is a precious commodity to me. My brand new shiny phone that barely lasts a day on a single charge.

As for other games, I'd play a F2P MMO with billboards for a laugh, then delete it. Imagine riding your donkey (Let's face it, they wouldn't give you a premium pony) in the country side with a giant bill board for "Preparation H" or some other garbage. It would be worth the screen shot.

Personally, I think the title should be changed to "Survey: 86% of Gamers Prefer Ads in Free EA-published Games Over Paying For EA-published Games" to reflect how narrow the scope is on this research. Now, if the study used games whose majority is not published or developed by EA, then I would consider it more credible to research. Otherwise it just says that people don't want to pay for games EA has had a hand in. (And who can blame them?)

I'm fine with ads in games, as long as they're non-intrusive. Load screens are perfect for this, because you can't really be doing much of anything anyway. Just don't replace my gun with a SUBWAY® Italian B.M.T.® and I'll be fine.

P.S. Thanks

Who did they ask, How did they ask them, how many of them did they ask and what the fuck is wrong with those people?

End of line.

BlameTheWizards:
One thing to keep in mind with this study is that it tracks people who are already playing freemium games, so the assertion that people already invested in that model would like to see more of it shouldn't be that surprising.

So in other words a survey obviously designed from the start to support this idea to EA's investors did just that.

"Hey guys I just polled a bunch of people at a candy store and found that a whopping 86% of them liked candy! Clearly this means in the near future 86% of all people who eat food will be happy only eating candy for every meal. So let's put all our money into developing for that."

how did they even define gamers for this study? people on facebook or mmo players? and seriously EA lending its name is not adding to any credibility, call me bias, but they have lost all my confidence in them

To date the only Free-to-Play game that I have a positive opinion of is Path of Exile. Notably a game that doesn't survive on obnoxious advertising, opting instead for purely cosmetic microtransactions. Hell, I gave them money a week ago specifically because of how good the developer treats its community. I didn't even want anything from their cash shop. But they've given me 200 hours of fun, and they've treated me (as part of the community) with respect - so they definitely deserve some cash thrown their way.

Everything else has been anti-customer trash, and I have no interest in pursuing any of that "freemium" crap.

CriticalMiss:

The games tracked in the study were EA freemium titles

So their survey of people who play free-to-play games showed that they would rather watch ads and not have to pay to play their free-to-play games?

What next, a survey of Battlefield players that shows gamers like to play modern military shooters?

Couldn't agree more.

Interestingly, a survey of all "The Old Republic" MMO players showed that they were both getting quite bored now and (quote) "probably going to go play Forza for a while."

Personally I want microtransactions and ads to stay in the F2P realm. When I buy a full price game I expect all the content, none of this 'Ryse' pay-to-level option or Mass Effect 'random loot pack' that locks all multiplayer content behind a purchase/grind wall to make us play against our own boredom (Do you want to pay with your money or your life?)

I have these horrible visions of a game starting,
"Loading..."
"Loaded."
"Loading advertisement..."
"You can skip this ad in 10, 9, 8..."

http://www.fuckthat.com.org.edu.gov.uk/nope.html

yeah uh

this study is about as useful as a sock puppet

Considering the quality of games being released lately it's no surprise that 86% of their players would rather play for free with ads than pay full price for it.

Heck, just look at the Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes game. Full price is $30 and from everything I'm hearing it's only a demo of their REAL game coming up. Throw in the fact of big sales at Steam, GoG and such where it's often better to wait a bit and only pay partial-price when a sale runs.

You could probably re-poll those very same people and come to the conclusion that...

"86% of gamers prefer to not play a game at all than to pay full price for it."

Biased poll is biased, as has already been said. Forget it, move on.

A "survey" of 500 is really just a glorified focus test.

But go ahead EA, put more shit in your mobile games and see where that gets you.

It's really great how companies can scientifically get the answers they want from the surveys they build given to the people they've chosen. I don't believe in the objectivity of this survey at all.

While the survey is probably not properly conducted. I will say that yes I prefer ads to paying for my stuff. Free to Play is the way to go as far as I'm concerned.

Reasons for this are quote obvious. People are getting sick and tired of paying $60 for half a game. They ruined the best business model with their endless amount of DLC that makes you feel like you don't own the full game unless you pay double for it. So of course people prefer free. At least they don't have to pay for the core game when they know it would shove DLC down their throats anyway.

In free games? Sure, no big deal. I hardly ever play free to play games anyway, besides Dota 2. But a little banner in the fountain advertising random shit wouldn't irk me to be honest.

Adam Jensen:
Reasons for this are quote obvious. People are getting sick and tired of paying $60 for half a game. They ruined the best business model with their endless amount of DLC that makes you feel like you don't own the full game unless you pay double for it. So of course people prefer free. At least they don't have to pay for the core game when they know it would shove DLC down their throats anyway.

The survey is only taking into account games that are already (or going to be) free to play, not $60 triple A games.

Uh huh. And who exactly did they ask? Customers of their free ad-laden games?
There's no way in hell EA would conduct a survey like this unless they knew the results would come out like this. They didn't run the survey to see if people want ad-laden games, they made the survey so that when they release their next, likely not free, game full of ads everywhere the eye can see they can point at the survey and pretend it's what everyone asked for.
I don't believe for a second this survey was conducted fairly. Hows about we all call for the survey to be rerun and available to everyone on the internet, or would EA cry 'vocal minority' when the results turn against them?

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