November 28, 2014

Namco Bandai: "Freemium model does not work for high-quality games"

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Namco Bandai, the name behind Android games such as PAC-MAN and Flight Control,  has come out in opposition of the freemium model that is becoming popular among mobile apps.  More specifically, they believe that it’s not possible to sustain a business model using this method so long as you are producing high-quality titles.  Also know as “free to play”, the tactic typically lets users get a taste for a game through a handful of levels of features.  The idea is that, once hooked, players will pay to unlock additional content, remove ads, or download new levels.

Speaking at Cloud Gaming Europe, Namco Bandai’s senior VP for Europe,  Olivier Comte, advised that while the strategy might work for smaller titles, it’s too risky for bigger companies. What’s more, he believes that the constant stream of low-cost or free games is going to hinder the industry in the long term.

“Free-to-play games can’t be high quality.  The business model for smaller, easier titles, is making an expectation to consumers that is whittling away at triple-A development.  We need to put certain value on certain work.  When you’re a big company… you can’t take risks too quickly, you can’t make a change just because there’s a fashion for a couple of years; you want to be there in 20 or 30 years.” – Comte

What’s your take?

What do you think of all Namco Bandai’s stance here?  Are they right in saying that high quality games will suffer in sales or development because of the indie developer business model?  More importantly, have you found a freemium game that you would consider high quality?  Let us know about it in the comments!

Industry Gamers



  • Anonymous

    Just my thought, but i hated the thought of in app purchases when i first heard it. I knew these game companies would use it in such a way.

    Ive yet to play any freemium game thats worth the nickel and diming. Gameloft being the biggest offender. I own a Galaxy Nexus and iPad2 so ive experienced this garbage all the way around.

    Im more than willing to pay for a game if its worth the price. Chaos Rings and Spectral Souls will be my examples.

    These two games are exclusive to iOS and Android respectivilty. And both cost a nice chunk or change. But the thing is, they were worth the price. One was an original title and the other a port, but both were well done. They set a price and people bit. Both have great reviews amd prove that people are willing to pay upfront for quality.

    Now take Gameloft. Before in app purchases, you could spend 5 dollars up front and you were done. Now…pay to play. And lets not forget Glu.

    If you create a high quality game, people will willing pay no matter the price. But Glu and Gameloft freemium titles arent worth it. There games can be short and repetitive. Guns Bros and the travisity that became Dungeon Hunter 3 are evidence. The ratings for DH3 are 2 and a half stars for good reason.

    PEOPLE KNOW YOUR CHEATING THEM!

    So hopefully we’ll see this crap come to an end soon. (Doubt it though)

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  • Jaap Haitsma

    I think Olivier Comte is still in the 20th century. In the 21st there will be very few technology companies that still exist in 20-30 years as the market will have completely changed by then. You have to innovate quickly both on the business side and technology
    side in the 21st century otherwise others will drive you out of business
    Especially large companies have problems to adapt to this.

    • H3rmanMunst3r

      Well I don’t completely agree with you, but I see what you’re saying.  I think large, established companies like Namco Bandai will be fine doing things the way they are.  The fact that they’ve been around a while and are established means they don’t have to conform to industry trends.  People will buy their products regardless.

      However, I do think that newer companies will have to comply with this.  Not having brand recognition means they will need to use tactics like this to draw people in.  Especially with how easy it is to get into the mobile arena and begin making products, we are going to continue to see an influx of new companies and unfortunate trends like this.

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