Targeting ‘Whales’ in Free-to-Play Games is Disrespectful, says Splash Damage CEO

If you’re the kind of person that spends a significant chunk of money on in-app purchases, freemium game developers already have a label for you: ‘whale.’ Not very flattering, is it? Splash Damage CEO Paul Wedgwood doesn’t think so, and he recently told Gamasutra that freemium developers’ practice of targeting these whales for their cash is disrespectful to all players.

“It’s such a horrific term, isn’t it?” Wedgwood said of whales in an interview/feature published by Gamasutra. “Philosophically, the problem with [targeting whales], if that’s the cornerstone of your game’s design, is that you then consider the 94 percent of people who aren’t into doing that.”

Splash Damage is currently at work on its own freemium game, RAD Soldiers, which is coming soon.

Kingdom Story XD is a solid freemium game, but users need to spend a lot of money to get ahead.

Last month, a study revealed that most app users spend little or nothing on in-app purchases, leaving freemium developers to rely on the tiny percentage that spends big money on in-game items. This is problematic, according to Wedgwood, because it has led some developers to value those players above all the rest.

“You have to value people’s time equally to the money that they can spend,’ he said. ‘People generally have more time than they need, more money than they need. … At the same time though, if I’ve got an abundance of time, I want the game to value that time — I don’t want to be told that it costs me 20,000 gaming hours to grind for a fountain, because that’s just stupid. It makes no sense.”

“It’s a mistake to build your game with whales in mind,” Wedgwood concluded.

What’s the most money you’ve ever dropped on an in-app purchase?

[via Gamasutra]

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