Zloth

Community Contributor
Just how many models have we had, anyway!? I know this is a new industry, but damn!
  • Pay everything up front.
  • Pay very little up front but, as soon as you lose, it's game over. (Arcade style.)
  • Shareware: the game is free, but you are asked to pay the developers directly. (Sometimes, they might ask you to pay a charity of some kind instead.)
  • Cripple-ware: the game is free to start, but you need to pay to get past a certain point, save your game, or play for longer than a certain amount of time. After that, you have to pay the developers, who then give you a code to fully enable the game. (Doom used this method to great success.)
  • DLC: Pay for the main game up front. For a little extra, we can add a bit more - pick and choose the options you want to buy.
  • Expand+DLC: Here's your main game. For quite a bit extra, we'll add significantly to the game over the years. Plus, you can get little DLCs as well. Both are optional. (Strategy games and Egosoft's X series have used this a lot.)
  • Pay as you play: The game is free, you'll be paying some amount per hour. That money will (at least partially) be used to make the game better. I haven't seen this one used in ages, but it was common back in the days of CompuServer, Americal Online, and GEnie.
  • Pay as you play but cheaper for the skilled: The arcade model but, instead of being game over when you lose, you can pump in a few more quarters and keep going.
  • Monthly Subscription: Play as much as you like, paying some amount per month. The initial game could be free, extra cheap, or full price (with one month free service).
  • Monthly Subscription + DLC/Expansions: Same as monthly subscriptions, but you can pay more for small things (probably nothing that makes you stronger). Every year or two, there will be a big expansion that costs quite a bit but is optional to buy. Theoretically, anyway - kinda rough to be stuck back in the same old areas while all your friends rush off to the new digs.
  • Free to play: The game costs nothing. Any expansions they do cost nothing. Some DLC may even be free. However, they often come close to being cripple-ware, where you must pay something to keep making progress. DLC that costs money will sometimes give the player an advantage over other players (though this is frowned upon in many of the bigger operations). As people continuing to play is the sole source of income, programs work really hard to get you to cough up a little cash as you go.
  • Advertisement Game: The game is free. However, the game is as much an advertisement as a game. (The only game I can remember that was successful was the America's Army games.)
  • Freeware: It won't cost you anything to play the whole thing. No advertisements, no guilt trips, no cash.
  • A cut of the take: Casinos have gone online with their games, so their method of making money came along with them.
  • Advertisements in game: a free game but, like a TV or radio station, you'll have advertisements show up now and then.
  • Data collection: a free game, but it gathers a whole bunch of data about you - presumably so they can give you targeted advertising.
  • Bulk Monthly Subscription: game is free and you pay per month, however, your subscription covers multiple games. (E.g. GamePass)
  • Game given away free as part of some promotion. It might be from a store (GOG), a contest from PC Gamer, or the publisher. Afterward, the game costs money again.
Am I forgetting any? I'm only listing things that give some sort of benefit to the developers (even if it's just warm fuzzies), not things like pirating, used game sales, or abandon-ware.

Anyone have any favorites?
 
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I tend to avoid subscription, so called free to play, and ad based games, so 99% of that doesn't apply to me.

Consider this though, if there weren't so many suckers eager to jump into that kind of crap, it would mostly be non existent.

Maybe it's just the old fart in me, but I've always been a cash and carry type of guy. If it doesn't have everything I want up front, I won't touch it.
 
I'm not sure how common this is, but I think some games get money by taking a cut from any transactions between players using actual money. I assume that's how most online poker games and similar casino style games work. I'm not sure how common it is in other online games, but I think I've seen/read about it before.
 
Mar 28, 2021
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I think adware is missing?

Recent examples I've seen are essentially a free-to-play type game, but if you don't want to directly pay money you can instead watch adverts (and advertisers pay the developers money). But watching the ads doesn't get you as much progression as paying.

So this is somewhat distinct from the current "advertising game" category. Extra examples there I can think of include Cool Spot and Zool, both of which are incredibly old now.
 
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I'm not sure how common this is, but I think some games get money by taking a cut from any transactions between players using actual money. I assume that's how most online poker games and similar casino style games work. I'm not sure how common it is in other online games, but I think I've seen/read about it before.
I've never understood why so many people throw money away on gambling. Those whom engage in such activities rarely win enough to make it worthwhile on a regular basis, and the casinos are pretty good at spotting and stopping those whom figure out ways to beat the system, like card counters.

It's no wonder most local and the federal government now have lotteries and legal gambling, there's just so many people whom are caught up in wishful thinking they don't see their cash being taken.
 
What about the games that are given away for free by Epic? A lot of those still fall in the DLC category, but with a free base game, but some just give you the entire game. Even in those latter cases, it's not exactly freeware, as it's obviously a sort of advertisement for the Epic store.

Other platforms give out games occasionally as well, though I'm not sure who's initiative it is in those cases (the platform or the publisher).
 
Am I forgetting any?
There's the free first-in-series model, designed to increase purchases of the sequels—that's quite common in the fiction book industry, and I've seen it in games too, but can't recall an example—other than very old games going free like the original C&C and Red Alert.

The Picross Touch game I played and wrote about recently is fully freeware, but the dev has DLCs which are only donation ware—ie no extra content:
PUAs4aB.png


Cripple-ware:
I suppose that covers free demos, a feature of casual games—eg BigFish have an hour-long demo for every game.

I guess DRM-free is another approach, like GOG. Altho GOG tends to add some small goodies when available—art book, score etc—the main hook is that there are no hooks. Again, this has proven very successful in parts of the book industry—Baen might be the best known example.

That post is getting LONG!
Glad to help :p
 
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There's the free first-in-series model, designed to increase purchases of the sequels—that's quite common in the fiction book industry, and I've seen it in games too, but can't recall an example—other than very old games going free like the original C&C and Red Alert.

I think that falls under the "promotion" category. Though I think the "DLC" category could also include the fact that the base game can be free, such as with Crusader Kings 2 and The Sims 4.

The Picross Touch game I played and wrote about recently is fully freeware, but the dev has DLCs which are only donation ware—ie no extra content:
PUAs4aB.png

So shareware then, not freeware (as defined by Zloth).
 
Jan 14, 2020
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I've moved mostly to Game Pass. Occasionally I might buy a game if it is heavily discounted.
When ATS Texas was released it cost £14.99, normally I would have bought it but I'll wait for it to come down in price.

The last game I actually purchased at full price was New World, but as usual I just got burned out after 9 months of playing an MMORPG.
 
Mine would be DLC, "bulk" subscription/subscriptions, then random other ways.

Ive paid for my main game (Destiny 2) up front and buy all the necessary expansions/seasons it releases over the years. This is the only game i do this for. Its kinda like my WoW. Ive been at it for years and will be for years to come...probably.

Next i use gamepass for...pretty much anything else. Its a good way for me to decide if i want to spend the money of putting it in my steam library. There is my Humble Bundle subscription (been doing this for about 4 or 5 years now) 8-13 bucks a month and get 8 games with one usually being a AAA game, it used to be more, but its still worth using. Its also for charity. I also wind up passing a bunch along to others which i like doing. Then theres amazons random free games/in-game content for having amazon prime. Discord subscriptions come with games but i dont play them. Thats all i subscribe to atm.

And then just random other ways depending on the game. I have put money into F2P games, ad-heavy games etc. Depends on how i can get what i want to play really.

I do get the occasional AAA game i cant get anywhere other than either a specific launcher (diablo 2/call of duty on battlenet) or discounts through 3rd party stores like GMG or Fanatical too which is how i got elden ring for under 30 bucks, not steams "discount".
 

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