Two thirds of players ditch free mobile games in less than 24 hours

But is that a bad sign?

by

66 percent of players stop playing free-to-play mobile phone games within the first 24 hours of launching the game for the first time, a new report by app testing firm Swrve has said.

Posted on Re/code, Swrve said its survey tracked over 10 million players over a 90-day period starting in November 2013. Over 30 titles were tracked, and Swrve's network includes major clients such as Activision, Epic Games, WB Games, Zeptolab, and Gameloft.

Swrve CEO Hugh Reynolds said that grabbing the attention of users is vital if they want to keep them engaged for more than 24 hours. “It's a bit like a first date," he said. “If it’s going to be effective, it needs to be effective quick.”

That's a bit of a sales pitch, mind: Swrve is a company established to help app makers maximize their in-app revenue, providing services such as in-app campaigns, push notifications, and UX and A/B testing. And free-to-play developer veteran Ben Cousins criticized Swrve on Twitter, accusing them of "trying to paint a depressing picture to sell [its] services."

According to Cousins, keeping 40 percent of your users into their second day "is the sign of a real hit" and that the numbers Swrve published are "totally normal" and "can drive success."

Martin Gaston is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @squidmania
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

138 comments
JRLennis
JRLennis

You know, there was a time when there was a glut of low-quality generic video games all competing for our attention.  The year was 1983.  Those of us old enough to remember those days know what happened the following year.  F2P mobile is not a sustainable business model, and we're all just waiting for the hammer to drop on these fools.

RyanBurnsRed
RyanBurnsRed

When they have ads and microtransactions up the ass, I typically ditch them in less than 5 minutes.

santinegrete
santinegrete

Well well well... is this the salvation the F2P model promises?

AwkwardTurtle42
AwkwardTurtle42

I'm not surprised. A lot of mobile games are the sort that are fun for five minutes then the novelty wears off. With pay-to-win some games have more timers than actual game in them which is another big turn off. Look at Star Trek: Trexels as an example of this. 

There's very little depth to a lot of them which is why they struggle to hold anyone's attention for any particular period of time. I think a lot just seem to sink to the bottom of the app store and end up being forgotten if they aren't one of the "big" games like Angry Birds.

mariokarthero
mariokarthero

Companies are now just becoming greedy with the in-app purchase thing. For example, Capcom released Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD on the iOS and they made you play the first two episodes of the first game and pay for the rest of the game AND the other two games!!! What a load of bullsh*t that is!!! Companies should stop being in-app purchase heavy when it comes to free-to-play games!!

nicecall
nicecall

free games suck most of the time what a shock this is.  Scorched Earth is probably the only free game i played i can actually call it a classic game i always go back to.

Whats worse with these free games is that 90% of the game is locked usually and you have to pay extreme costs to unlock them, and only the weak minded actually fall for this.

trotz75
trotz75

Also I think we're at a stage in mobile gaming were people are wanting games that are more engaging, because after you've played a few free games the appeal for them wears off.

trotz75
trotz75

Mobile games will go through a similar evolution as games on consoles, as phones become more powerful with more ram etc etc the games will naturally become better and better. Crap games were all to common on the nes snes megadrive etc. But alot of the developers who made these Crap games have disappeared as gamers didn't buy there games, advertisers want there adverts seen by as many people as possible, so mobile games will get better in order for the game makers to make there games more appealing to advertisers, there will also be other reasons why they get better aswell but I not gonna go into every one I can think of right now

Iron65
Iron65

Everybody knows most players of mobile games are casual ones. it's natural to see how easily they can leave one game....

marcthpro
marcthpro

F2P Megaproblematic is lack of content unless you pay the worth of all the sims 3 Franchise in less then a Week needless to say i know people who invested over 50$ monthly on there F2P Mobile Game & Farmville or Korean MMO like Dragonest when you try to incorporate that flavor that was there way BEFORE mobile game 

F2P Gaming problematic is there basically no limit or morality of how it should be made it like 4.99$ there and 8.99$ there and it not even for cosmetic it just for content eventually you realise you have to spent at least 100-400$ per F2P game to have enough content to  enjoy them

That why i don't play F2P unless it offer for like 5$ : 40H of content - but that only like 5 game on android  per year that fit those critea of the 800's that get release each season 


so instead you buy humble bundle android's game - pay 1$ - 5$ GET MASSIVE LOT OF GAME LOT OF FUN : and 80% OF them don't have to pay more then 3-5$ OF DLC TO GET some fun of it like Kingdom rush which is both awesome for STEAM & Android 

DVONvX
DVONvX

But mobile gaming is taking over console gaming. At least thats what the non-gamers, who have no idea what they're talking about, are saying. 

zyxe
zyxe moderator moderator

" Swrve said its survey tracked over 10 million players over a 90-day period starting in November 2013."

Is anyone else a little disturbed by this? I know these games are F2P so they must come with advertisements and such, but the fact that these companies track individual users' use of the game is partially why I don't even start any F2P games.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Sounds about right.  Most mobile games are horrible and have the depth of a spoon.

CrashOV
CrashOV

i'd rather pay 2-6 bucks for a fun enjoyable microtransactionless platformer or something that I can enjoy than spend an hour fiddling with my thumbs waiting to be able to continue my "free" game riddled with spam and facebook share popups

CrashOV
CrashOV

this is all mostly due to the fact that after 15 minutes they stop being free to play. 

da_chub
da_chub

mobile games are not the future of gaming.  Gaming has become so pop culture that the millions of new age gamers who were just playing bejeweled in their pcs are not playing candy crush and angry birds on their kindles.  Well, the core gamer like me, who might enjoy a game like PvZ2, can just play that and nothing else.  I want a game like dark souls to go with my mindless gaming habits.  and as much as I wanted to like the dues ex on my iphone, it sucked compared to replaying Human evolution again on my Wii U.

bezza2011
bezza2011

I could of told you that years ago. Mobile games or andriod games are not the future, they last an hour before people click off, if that, i remember me and my mate messing around with games we'd down load a game play it and uninstall, no one cares for this type of game, but because it's cheap it doesn't matter if we put are money on it just to have a luck. they all need to learn this.

maximo
maximo

I have only played Farmville many years ago and I stopped playing with in a month or so. I sued to play when i was bored.

These games are shallow and boring in my opinion. I don't like the business model they usually have in place i.eI don't like microtransactions. 


Every time I think of these mobile games I think of girls and Japanese gamers.


These games are not for me,

Rakou
Rakou

I dont play mobile games, at all. I have a $100 phone which i only use for communication, and I've never really felt intrigued by the 3DS or the Vita.

Dinostrich
Dinostrich

The reason why I mostly don't play mobile games is that its free to download; but to be successful you have to pay to get stuff.  That or play repetitively for what seems to be an insane amount of hours.  I just get tried of doing that and the game gets boring.  Another issue is that some of these apps NEED a good connection to play.  On top of that I have things constantly popping up telling me to buy stuff.  The longest mobile game I've stuck with was Puzzles and Dragons.  It was addicting, good gameplay, could pick it up and put it down any time, and you could play nicely without ever paying.    


What I stick with is emulators of the glory days of gameboy and gameboy advance.  Playing Pokemon Fire Red is way more fun than the app games.  On top of that I don't need a good connection to the internet to play.  

starfox15
starfox15

I work at a cellphone retailer and it's pretty apparent that most people don't give 2 craps about their apps, regardless of whether or not it's a game or random other application.  The mobile world is an ever-evolving marketplace and if you can't make something that people are going to want to keep on their phone, you won't be a successful app developer.  I see it firsthand on a daily basis and I do the same thing.  If you're going to make an app, make one that people will want to use or play. 

Xily
Xily

Several people here are pointing out the quailty of mobile games. If "mobile games suck" is the reason, then what does that say about Flappy Bird? I guess it must be an amazing game because everyone is playing it. 

No, it doesn't have much to do with the quality of the game, but rather the mentality behind the person downloading the games. Put up games like a 3D Zelda, Deus Ex, Metal Gear Solid, etc. as F2P with no microtransactions and I bet most of those 66% would ditch those games too. Mobile gamers don't have the patience to go through an epic game. The majority of them want something that can get them hooked from the very beginning. If the game doesn't click with them initially, that doesn't necessarily mean that they thought the game is bad. You'll notice that the people who rarely play video games and have mobile devices usually play puzzle games, endless runners, tower defense games, etc.

There's also the 'free' factor that plays in. When something is free, hardly anyone cares what the quality is and whether or not they'll like it... I mean, it's FREE! But when there's money involved, people tend to be more careful and do some research before buying a certain product.

By the way, I agree that the majority of mobile games suck, but the blame on the quality is being blown way out of proportion.

kujel
kujel

This alone is a good reason not to make F2P games but a better reason is they tend to suck!

Dogswithguns
Dogswithguns

All the mobile games and most apps are crap IMO..

hellzicke
hellzicke

and yet tons of people throw tons of cash into p2w ultimate team in the number one most popular game ever existed, FIFA. Which is also, just to remind you, b2p.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

Thats when you hit the pay to win wall.

Evanrocknuma
Evanrocknuma

I'm far more turned off by most f2p models than I am by 5-8 dollar price tags.  That being said, I do quite enjoy the recent f2p model in which you can voluntarily watch advertisements for power ups and such.  Far less intrusive.

Diablo-B
Diablo-B

If downloaded hundreds of free mobile games. Only 6 were worth keeping

VenomousOne
VenomousOne

Uhhh, cuz half of all games are crap and 90% of mobile games are super crap, repetitive, and such blatant cash grabs that the moment a player realizes it, they drop it.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

LOL reminds me of how fast I dump F2P games on consoles =)

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

I've downloaded a ton of these games but stopped them since they're just money wasting copies. I still might look once in awhile curious but, haven't re-engaged in any. I love how you'll find developers of these games bragging about how many times their app was downloaded never mind we all get curious and check so many of them out for 5 minutes and then move on. In this case, I suppose if something near 40% are staying, they're spending money to win and probably way too much of it for nothing real! Crazy to me!

mcullinan
mcullinan

All the games look and play the same. And Im sick of the overly cute drawings that assault my innocent eyes ;) Boring games. No depth... There are a few good ones but very few. Im shocked that there are so many flappy bird copycat games. I hate the original. I think my high score was like 4.

MNDMTX
MNDMTX

free or not they all look the same to me, for every good game there is a 100 copy. you delete most games simply because it's a copy, very repetitive  or it's just a bad game; free or not is a factor but there is stronger factors worth mentioning.

Zjarcal
Zjarcal

Hardly surprising, when something's free most everyone will try it just for the heck of it and then ditch it if it's not their thing.

geggames
geggames

Ever think this is because most FTP games are garbage or are rehashes of the same old thing? Here's a synopsis of what happens "Oooh that game looks ok. I'll download it. Oh, looks like Temple Run, but the controls suck and it has a lot of ads that pop out at inappropriate times. Delete!". If there was better quality control and more originality I'm sure the bounce rate would greatly reduce. Just my 2 cents. -Giant Elephant Games

dialtech
dialtech

Most mobile games suck anyways. Give me a good old tower defense game for a few dollars and I ail buy it to play on the go.

zeusbark
zeusbark

Me and my girlfriend (specially her) played hours and hours of "Plants vs Zombies" it was awesome, so we were naturally exited about PvZ 2, even more when we realized it was free. After playing for a couple of hours we soon realized that the game was garbage and ditched it. The problem I see with FTP games is that they try to milk you every step of the way, sure you can play without ever paying, but the game experience is design to be frustrating unless you pay. Just charge me whatever and give me the whole game.

Tuckpoint
Tuckpoint

They aren't trying to paint a depressing picture, wtf.  Marketing campaigns do a good enough job of making everything depressing all by themselves.  That Ben Cousins keeps opening his mouth like he's got some idea what gamers want and how to deliver it to them is absurd.  Fuck 'em both, micro transactions don't even come close to living up to a definition of "small".  Hell the F2P game I actually do enjoy has options for you to spend HUNDREDS of dollars at once.  How is that not baiting irresponsible kids to go grab their parents credit cards?  If you're part of a marketing division, I'm not saying you should kill yourself but it would be nice if you didn't reproduce.

warrner11
warrner11

One fail aspect i find in mobile games is when u switch devices or need to reset them, there's no definite way for progress or financial  data to be saved. So unless its an online mobile game, its inevitable that playing 98% of them are pointless for real gamers to play.

nights_team2k7
nights_team2k7

If it's free to play then I pass. I rather pay for a complete experience up front than to have to deal with micro transactions.

drift133
drift133

@nicecall  admittedly, i sunk many hours into the Simpsons tapped out. but the vast majority of games I play on my phone only stay there for about 2 days, and mainly because i haven't got around to deleting them. some mobile games are quite entertaining. Racing using your phone as as steering wheel is fairly unique( Yes, I am aware of the Six- axis on PS3 controllers, it doesn't have the same feel to me) but otherwise most mobile games are sadly lacking in many aspects. then there is having to pay for things that we used to get completely free as part of the whole game( cars, guns, special abilities). I dont mind paying 10 bucks for an expansion, providing it's worth it. for it to be worth it to me, there needs to be alot more content than just an extra gun and a couple cars. I will now direct your attention to the past. as a perfect example of what i was referring to. look at Diablo 2 and their "Lord of Destruction" expansion pack. It not only came with new weapon stylings, but two new classes, a few much needed gameplay changes and a WHOLE NEW ACT. that, my friends, is worth what i'm paying for it, not just to get the new weapons.

Drift

santinegrete
santinegrete

@DVONvX  sad thing is, some suits with executive capabilities really think that.

drift133
drift133

@zyxe  just to let you know, surveys like that have to have the participants consent to monitor them. true, there are some really sneaky ways that a company can get you to consent, but not in a situation like this. Its not like they're hacking into your phone without you knowing and monitoring everything you do. Thats what the government is for lol jk(or am I?)

drift

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

A game like dark souls would be great on mobile. Lame story for mindless gamers that offers absolutely nothing innovative at all

MigGui
MigGui

@zeusbark  it got better after players' feedback. it isn't pvz, but it isn't pure garbage anymore.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Well friggin' said Tuckpoint! You hit the nail on the head with what's wrong in gaming right now! The outlook is ugly since greed seems to be driving too many developers.

aegis_kleais
aegis_kleais

@warrner11  It would be as if the game's data files could be synced across your device's cloud storage, so that other devices could utilize it as well.

killjoi
killjoi

@MigGui @zeusbark  Unfortunately that doesn't do a lot of good at this point.  The impression is made, and more games are coming out all the time.


To me, FTP is like buying the tickets for rides at the county fair.  I'd just soon wait until the one day you can buy a bracelet to ride-all-rides, and I am just as likely to move along if I read the phrase Free-to-Play.