For a long time, we planned for Exploit: Zero Day, our social hacking puzzle game currently in closed alpha, to use a "free-to-play" or "freemium" approach to money. Not anymore.
No More Freemium
Our original concept would let players play most of the single-player or "PVE" content for free. We would have offered certain advantages for micropayments: ways to skip levels, customize the puzzles you make, and provide benefits to other players who play your puzzles. We planned for our primary income to come from this sort of freemium content.
However, we changed our minds after attending GDC Next 2014. While there we realized two things: Zero Day isn't the best title for making money in a F2P way and we didn't want to do what it takes to make money in the F2P world.
Neither of us want to court whales, restrict daily play time, or calculate ARPUs. Neither of us want to optimize any funnels. Most of the work of running a freemium game is tweaking the money knobs. We want most of our work to be making games.
A Better Way
Our current plans are more traditional. An introductory portion of the game will be available for free; think of it as an extended demo. Additionally, the social and multiplayer aspects will be freely available, at least with their basic features. Money will come almost purely from selling content. Players can pay to get access to a collection of "jobs" that tell a continuous story. That story will be supported by live interaction with the game's characters on the forums that can influence its development.
If enough people like the game and buy the premium content, we'd love to put out a series of "seasons" that continue the story, adding new features, new puzzles, and ongoing interaction. We might not get enough interest, but if we don't we'll both feel a lot better about releasing one full game's worth of content and calling it done instead of asking players to pay into a freemium game that we have to drop support for.
If you want to take an early look at Exploit: Zero Day, sign up for our mailing list. We're periodically adding more members with alpha access to help us test our totally unfinished game.
How do you feel about this change in our approach to money? How would you want to pay for Exploit: Zero Day?