For a free to play game to generate revenue, it must attract and keep players playing. If the player finds it fun, he will stay more.
Yet despite this, most mobile f2p games that we make interrupt this with blocks and hard gates and “share/invite to continue”. So we are the ones that are blocking that which would keep the players longer in the game.
On one side we have the games in which you “have to wait for it” whatever the it is (gems, builders, a house, etc.) and on the other we have the you “have to work for it” ones where you have to grind or play more in order to get what you want.
In the “wait for it” scenario, you can either wait, or pay to rush it. You can do something in the meantime, but that is only at lower levels. Later in the game you usually change the account or switch to another game.
In the “work for it” scenario, you can still continue playing if you don’t want to pay. You don’t really have IAPs that delay the game here. Instead, they enhance the experience, simplify a process, increase inventory, raise chances for specific actions, vanity/cosmetics and the sorts. You can play on without paying for a long time, and (very important) still have fun doing so, but you can vary and grow that fun through the IAPs.
Some examples of “work for it”:
- Magic: The Gathering – you can play with your current cards and challenge people, but you still want more creatures and packs to diversify your deck.
- SmallWorld 2– You can buy new race packs (not that it would need any more honestly)
- SpaceTeam – You buy different missions, costumes, alien hieroglyphs
- Letterpress – You unlock playing with everyone + cosmetics
There is also another issue that I have with the delay/waiting mechanics: if a person is waiting on the bus or on a train or on the toilet or on a plane, and he/she wants to play now, if my game doesn’t let him play, he will most surely play something else. What that means is that tomorrow, he’ll probably start the other game first and not mine.
By letting the person play more, he also gets more invested in the game. One of the reasons why it’s hard to convince someone owning an iOS device to switch to another system is that he/she loses all those 10.000 apps that he has bought or installed. He has invested a lot and has a lot more to lose than just a different system and different interface. This is also what can happen, to a certain extent, with players in your game. By investing more of their time, by them gaining more items, their hero reaching a high level, it becomes harder for them to leave and also makes them think about spending more on their pleasure.
Finally, letting them play gives you more time to show them the value of the IAPs. The game creates the fun and it also creates needs for the player that can obviously be satisfied via play or IAPs.
So don’t delay. Let them play.
P.S. That goes for us as well… starting with our next game. We learned this the hard way.