How Free-to-Play Games Work Financially

Wired’s superb write-up on the free-to-play market shows why the market works: Whales.

That’s what publishers consider their prime targets, those with hugely disposable income who will spend thousands of dollars per month on a game without flinching. Some, such as user ID “Panda,” are boasting about the money spent. “You don’t have to spend less, you have to earn more,” he says, much to the dismay of a community who believes he’s buying his way to the top. He plunged $7,000 into developer SuperCell’s Clash of Clans, or 7% of his income.

Another player claims spending hundreds of dollars on these games is saving him money, as a night out with friends would cost him $6,000. His favorite games only cost $5,000 to win.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how DLC has become successful, even paid titles, you can thank the whales.