Have you ever gotten something for free? Don’t you value and grab those things more often than something you pay for? This is how free to play games actually get you to invest before making you pay any money. There are two psychological tricks behind this.
The Special Value Of Zero
Zero is a special number when it comes to buying things. For example, if the price of a game is free, you believe you lose nothing in the transaction for that game than if you had paid upfront for it. That matters more to you as an individual, because of the human mind’s disposition to dislike loss.
We as people tend to value getting things for free as more important, because they signify us getting something with no downside. There is no pain involved in that kind of purchase!
Now, think about that for a moment.
Risk Vs Reward
You buy a game up front, but there is a risk of it being a poor purchase. What if you don’t like the game? What if you don’t believe it’s worth the price you paid for it? Both of these will carry a lot of weight on your mind making you adverse to buying the game that costs money. You want to know you made a good decision and even though the reward may be great, the potential for loss matters more to you than the reward. We as people tend to value the weight of risk more in our mind even though logically it doesn’t have a huge impact on some purchases.
Free to play games don’t usually have this problem initially.
Free to play games use free in their business model to alleviate this issue in your mind. By making the game free then including microtransactions, they tend to make the player feel the hurt less than if they had to pay for the entire game upfront. This allows you as the customer to not think about the cost as much. Furthermore, it ends up feeling less intrusive because we can confirm if the game has any value to us before we invest any money into the game.
These are the two major effects that govern some of the choices people make when buying games. To summarize, the two major tricks at work is the special value of zero and the human mind’s disposition to weight any risk/loss more heavily than the reward.
I hope this helps you and once again happy game-making!