Lately, we have been devoting time to study the free-to-play model that is used in the mobile gaming industry. When checking the App Store and Google Play grossing rankings it is easy to see which apps are making the best monetization. At the moment, they are all free-to-play apps.
We have started a couple of new projects in which one option is to utilize free-to-play monetization. Another of these new apps is a game and the other goes more into educational app category. Our biggest challenge is to understand how the free-to-play model would work in children’s apps. The monetization needs to be done ethically, it must not reduce the usability and it has to follow the guidelines of marketing to children. Also, it’s important to understand that the user of the app and the person with the credit card rights are not the same person. These aspects make the model challenging but then again, there are already apps for kids that utilize free-to-play model succesfully.
Free-to-play works well in games and even in educational apps. Both of the categories involve progression that is essential part of utilizing free-to-play monetization. What about storybook apps? Does free-to-read work? How could a storybook have sensible progression for the user? Giving one story for free and selling the rest as in-apps is not really free-to-read. It is one-for-free-and-pay-for-the-rest.
What if the book app included a story for free and with in-app purchases the story became better and more enjoyable. Doesn’t sound good or even realistic, does it? How about paying for not to get frustrated? For example, it's free to read slowly, and by paying you could read the rest of the book faster. That does not sound any better. Neither do the pay-to-win models work in reading. Increasing interactivity or offering extra content with in-app sales could be elements of free-to-read concept, but I doubt they would hit the same conversion rates as the best selling game apps do.
As you can see, this blog is free to read but if you would like to enjoy our storybook apps you still need to pay, at least until we will find the right way to introduce the free-to-read model in our apps. The right way means that we can still pay for the authors, brand owners, partners and our hard-working employees. It’s indeed puzzling how to turn free-to-play model into usable free-to-read model. If you come up with ideas, please let us know.