Posting from Reddit:
Being sticklers for a more traditional sales model will only hurt adoption of this game, which would be a shame since it's so amazing. If they could get the first version in peoples' hands for free, I believe that this seriously has the potential to become one of the most popular games on the app store. The simple gameplay and the incredible visual style will hook people immediately.
For an endless game where you play until you lose, ads between games seems like a very reasonable way to monetize, but I can see that not being enough. And I'm sure they can come up with things to sell if pressed. The arcade-style cheat code methods where you can pay for an extra engine/line/carriage if you are about to lose seems obvious. Unfortunately, the game design seems to rule out some of the more traditional sales items like maps and cosmetics.
IAP is dying due to it's massive exploitation. Even whales eventually give up on games. Hitman Go is the future (if you ignore their hints packs) and Mini Metro fits that model well. Except a "level pack" can't be one city, it has to be several.
I'm not sure what they mean by Freemium exactly - are they suggesting that some modes or maps are locked off with IAPs, or are they suggesting X games per half hour with paying money to unlock extra games (the absolute worst of Freemium), or just shareware/demo style where you can play for half an hour and then must buy it?
I would see no issue with the third option.
Mini Metro is a good game, btw, if anyone hasn't checked it out. It's about $6 on Steam.
Probably something like selling cheat code-equivalent stuff like extra lines, extra carriages or locomotives, etc. The game is simplistic enough that there's not a lot you can even sell.
We still to-and-fro. Would freemium be selling out, or merely adapting the game to the platform? Is releasing as paid on mobile idealistic, or using a dying business model from desktop and consoles?
Didn't Apple recently release and promote a "pay once and play" section? I would say the freemium model is one of the reasons that people are put off by mobile.
I had written off the whole mobile platform as beyond salvation in the last couple of years. It's only in the last couple of months that I found some great games and the only money I spent was either on complete games or episodic content (Hitman Go, Layton Brothers Mystery Room, Threes, Valiant Hearts).
I guess I'm now part of the "mobile gamers" demographic.
The thing is that, as a general rule, mobile gamers don’t pay for games. They pay eventually of course. Just not up-front. If it ain’t free to download, then 99% of people won’t even take a second look at the icon. But you gotta pay the piper. Advertising, in-app purchases, energy. Banner ads, interstitial ads, incentivised video ads. Two-tier currencies.
I'm not sure if that would go over well for the type of game that Mini Metro is. Having a demo and purchasable levels would seem like a better fit.
Nobody would buy additional levels. They add no variety - the only thing they change is the river layout, forcing you to use more or less tunnels. Buying the other game modes could potentially work, or buying other gameplay elements like additional unique symbols or more lines.
Don't worry about selling out. If your game is designed from the ground up to be a freemium game, sell it that way. Otherwise, don't waste your time trying to bolt on freemium unless you really think the design could work well with it. With the emerging "premium, pay once" category in the app store we might start seeing a bit more traction for games like Mini Metro. Looks amazing btw!
Just to add one more voice to the idea of releasing two versions, demo and full game. It seems perfectly valid to leave any upgrades like lines and carriages as features for the full version to guarantee that the experience is limited but not limiting in the demo.
Maybe if the size of cities (i.e. the number of stations) was capped and you could only have 3 lines, 4 at most, it wouldn't make the game horribly frustrating and prevent it from feeling like 'pay-to-win'.
The Jonathan Blow talk that he posted was also pretty insightful on the whole f2p model and how it relates to television in the past and present. That connection to network television vs premium channels reassures the idea that while freemium mobile games won't go out of style anytime soon, there is still a market for quality mobile games.