The future of the game industry may very well be in free-to-play. The industry already is reporting largely increased profits, along with an increase in users.
One of the more recent developments has to do with a big catch, and a big partnership involving the largest casual game producer in the world. Boss Fight Entertainment, the creators of Age of Empires and Castleville, just partnered with Big Fish to publish the studio’s first game. This partnership will bring casual gamers into the mix, where core gamers used to be the only ones with a stake.
Already having published more than 400 casual to midcore games, this latest announcement is just one step in Big Fish’s commitment to push forward free-to-play games. In this respect, it is also a step that moves casual gamers forward, with additional player investment and a deeper engagement. Big Fish already has a proven track record when it comes to free-to-play games. Top grossers include Fairway Solitaire and Big Fish Casino.
Big Fish General Manager and Vice President of Studios, Chris Williams, said in part, “In 2014 the company will be focused on launching hit free-to-play games—some in genres that may be unexpected.”
Big Fish celebrated 2013 as the 11th consecutive year hitting double-digit growth. For 2013, total gross company revenue was $266 million. $120 million of that came from mobile, a doubling from $60 million in 2012.
In 2012, the company released three mobile free-to-pay titles. In 2013, that number jumped to five. However, 2014 already promises the launch of more than 20 new free-to-pay titles. Big Fish also recently announced a partnership with Coinbase, which is a secure bitcoin wallet used internationally. It allows users to purchase all of the company’s online games with bitcoin, directly from Big Fish. In addition, many of Big Fish’s free-to-play online games will take bitcoin for purchasing in-app.
These statistics are not unique. Game Insight North America reports its own success in recent years when it comes to free-to-play games. According to Senior PR Manager Alexis Valerio, Mystery Manor was the first free-to-play, hidden-object game on Facebook. It became the top grossing game on iOS with gross revenue topping $63 million and more than 34 million users.
My Country has routinely ranked in the top five grossing games for more than a dozen countries, including the United States, Canada and Japan. At more than $12 million in gross revenue, there are upwards of 18 million users across the globe. Paradise Island was in the top spot on Google Play for more than 26 weeks in a row, grossing revenue of more than $25 million, with 54 million users. It was also the first free-to-play game to generate more than one million dollars on Google Play. Airport City grossed more than $33 million, with more than 37 million users. It has also held the top grossing spot in more than 30 countries. Finally, The Tirbez hit number one several times as the top free game for the iPad. With gross revenue of more than $38 million, there are more than 14 million users around the world. The Tirbez is currently listed on Google Play.