It’s a model that Facebook is having abundant success with. It’s called the Freemium model. You make a game free to the public. But, to advance more quickly in the game, to be able to build faster or buy new things, you can short-cut your way using Facebook credits for in-game purchases. This is how Farmville became one of the most financially profitable games in history.
In fact, Analytics company Flurry claims that it is actually MORE profitable for mobile developers to offer their app for free – in terms of overall revenue generated (65%). It sounds a little crazy. But, think about it. There’s no start-up cost. This allows countless more people to start playing your game. And if you believe in the long-term value of your game, then this model of mobile gaming may make the most financial sense for you.
But, the reality is that this doesn’t work for every game. For simulation games like Farmville and Pawn Stars, this makes sense. For other games like Angry Birds, it’s harder. Unless you charge to open up more levels – but that doesn’t even really count as part of the Freemium model. That’s more like a “trial” version.