A lot has been written about the true cost of free-to-play games - we even devoted a day of Talk Mobile to it a few weeks ago - but how does it actually work? We know the less-than-scrupulous developers target our impatience and our ego, but what are the exact mechanics involved? Ramin Shokrizade takes a look at the most common coercive monetization techniques in a guest post for Gamasutra:
A coercive monetization model depends on the ability to “trick” a person into making a purchase with incomplete information, or by hiding that information such that while it is technically available, the brain of the consumer does not access that information. Hiding a purchase can be as simple as disguising the relationship between the action and the cost
Shokrizade covers the use of premium currencies, like gems or points, the transformation of skill games to money games, the threat of reward removal, progress gates, soft and hard boosts, ante games, and more.
The level of manipulation is chilling, and anger-inducing, but this is what we get when a) we're too cheap to pay fair up-front prices for high quality games, b) alternate monetization methods are abused, and c) platform owners abdicate responsibility for a or b.