Free-to-play for core gamers 'generates more cash'

Free-to-play for core gamers 'generates more cash'
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

October 26th 2011 at 11:23AM

Valve perplexed by extraordinary conversion rate for Team Fortress 2

The free PC version of Team Fortress 2 has sold virtual goods to as many as a third of its customers, Valve boss Gabe Newell has claimed.

The figure dwarfs conventional conversion rates for free-to-play games, with the consensus being that a typical freemium game will take money from just five per cent of its customers.

“When we talk to partners who do free-to-play, a lot of people see about a two to three per cent conversion rate of the people in their audience who actually buy something,” said Newell speaking at the North of Innovation conference in Seattle, as quoted by Geekwire.

“Then with Team Fortress 2, which looks more like Arkham Asylum in terms of the user profile and the content, we see about a 20 to 30 per cent conversion rate of people who are playing those games who buy something.”

This surprising statistic seems to show that the hardcore gamer market spends more money on the free-to-play model than casual users.

Newell added: “There seems to be something about the content that significantly changes how your monetisation occurs, with apparently much broader participation than you would see out of something like FarmVille.”

The Valve boss said his studio doesn’t fully understand why this is, but it will continue to run experiments to better understand the customer data.

Team Fortress went free-to-play in June this year following a string of games on Steam adopting the model such as Global Agenda and Spiral Knights.