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Free to Play games and their role in enhancing Fan Engagement

Free-to-play (F2P) games with in-app purchases (IAP) have become the most popular way for game operators to monetize and earn revenue. Here are some of the trends and advantages of using F2P games to encourage user engagement and grow your fantasy sports and betting business.

Free to Play or F2P have been around for a while now, and are undoubtedly an integral part of the digital gaming industry. It should come as no surprise that it is the first thing most sports and professional leagues scrambled towards as an unprecedented pandemic forced sporting events to shut down. People behind sports and professional leagues saw F2P for what it was… an opportunity to engage and stay connected with fans in an uncertain atmosphere.

Although F2P occupies a relatively smaller space in an organization’s overall digital gaming portfolio, it has been used as an effective tool to drive fan engagement for fantasy sports and sports betting. F2P games are already being used by many media and sports companies to better engage with fans as you read this article.

What is F2P?

Free to Play (F2P) games refer to any form of a mobile application or digital game that allows its users to play without paying. With F2P, players get the same entertainment value with prizes and rewards found in real money games while assisting brands and game producers to cultivate a base of new customers.

Free 2 Play games have been used as effective tactics to lure frugal players into trying an experience they would have otherwise ignored because of the price tag attached. As a result, it has emerged as an imperative marketing strategy to reach out to more people, earn their trust and engage with them in the hopes of turning them into loyal customers or spreading positive word of mouth for the product being offered.

F2Play games are being used by different parties to achieve a common goal – maximization of profits. The way Free to Play helps accomplish this goal is by boosting fan engagement. You can see examples of this playing out right now in the real world.

Sports companies are now using Free 2 Play games to generate fan interest in their games, sell more merchandise and tickets. On the other hand, media companies and broadcasters of these games also have a vested interest in F2P because they want to increase viewership for their sports programming and understand viewer behavior.

The Profitability of F2P Games?

Although F2P games do not charge any upfront money from their customers, they are extremely profitable endeavors. These games make their revenue from in-game purchases and running ads.

According to Statista, the global free-to-play mobile games market was estimated at 73.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, and this figure is predicted to rise to 75.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2021. The popularity of

Free2Play games has encouraged many in the industry to make a move towards in-game monetization.

If recent reports are to be believed, then 99% of mobile games coming in the next three years are expected to be free2play.

The Role F2P Plays in Helping Fantasy Sports and Betting Operators

In hindsight, F2P helps operators in two fundamental ways.

1 – F2P can help sports operators build a database of potential players and bettors in a market where fantasy sports and betting is still considered illegal. Some Daily Fantasy Sports ventures were the first entities to do this successfully as all they had to do was make a switch to official sports fantasy and betting apps in markets where such betting was already legal.

2 – Secondly, F2P could help educate those who are new to the world of fantasy sports and betting. It could act as a good educational tool to help people understand how sports betting worked, how it can benefit them, and the legality of it all.

Ultimately, operators look at F2P as a tool that can help them enhance their brand, better interact with users and attract new customers in the process.

Reasons why F2P is a Great Tool to Enhance Engagement

There are many reasons why F2P games… or games in general are extremely effective in enhancing fan engagemen

1 – Interactive Entertainment

Unlike movies or songs, games are interactive entertainment. It is in a game’s nature to engage with its player in a profoundly more interactive way, which is simply not possible via other mediums of entertainment. We also live in a world where there are more people who consume games than there are people who read books or listen to songs. Marketers can thus harness the in-game monetization model that F2P games employ to make prospects notice your brand.

2 – The Data, Invention and Conversation Principle

We live in a data-driven world. In fact, it would be fair to call data the new oil of a world that is being vehemently digitized. Data is a critical element of gaming and sports betting. Like we mentioned before, F2P provides sports betting and fantasy sports operators, etc. with an opportunity to establish a database of interested players and tons of other important information, which can be harnessed to boost fan engagement.

As the landscape of sports betting changes, one can expect the interests of fans and the way they interact with games to change as well. There will come a time when ideas grow stale and fans demand innovation. Sports betting and fantasy sports operators will be capable of meeting these expectations for innovation by using F2P to test various methods to see what resonates with fans and what doesn’t.

F2P can also be employed to maintain a consistent chain of conversation between the fan and the game being played. This ensures the gamers never feel ignored. F2P helps build strong relationships among fans and the games they play by encouraging regular dialogue. As such, fans are kept engaged throughout.

The brands, fantasy sports operators, and media companies that learn to master the principles of Data, Invention, and Conversation will be able to dominate the market with an enhanced sports engagement experience. They will stand out among their competition, maximize their profits and earn a higher level of reverence from their customers.

3 – 40% of F2P players will eventually turn into paid users

A recent study conducted by the NPD Group found that 4 out of 10 players who indulged in F2P games made in-game payments to upgrade their experience. People simply gravitate towards the flexible pricing model offered by F2P, which is contrary to the way traditional premium games charge their players. As of 2020, it is estimated that almost 38% of US citizens aged 2 and above are playing some form of Free to Play game. Despite not charging upfront, F2P games are eventually profitable because of their capability to attract a substantial base of new customers who can be pushed to pay for in-game upgrades.

4 – The Rewards

F2P games provide their users with cash prizes and rewards similar to the ones presented in most real money games. Rewards give the player an instant sense of gratification, which is important to boost fan engagement. F2P games today go above and beyond to make winning seem like a momentous occasion. This helps boost a player’s morale. Winning rewards every now and then also motivates a player to keep coming back for more.

F2P game operators need to strike that sweet spot between rewarding too much and rewarding too little to avoid facing any player retention issues. An adequate reward will not only retain the player but also result in that particular player talking about the game with his/her friends and family members, thus opening the door for new players to arrive.

The Rise of Real-Time Gamification

A strategy that has really helped gaming operators acquire and retain customers, is offering F2P in partnership with popular leagues, teams, and media companies. Some examples include the partnership of NBA Pick’Em games with FanDuel and the introduction of Nascar’s Finish Line. All of these games follow a similar model – they ask fans to answer a few predictive questions before the start of the game or at halftime to stand a chance of winning cash and other prizes.

According to most sports wagering pundits, most of these questions are answered by fans mid-game. This trend hints at major implications for the future of F2P. There will eventually come a time where users will demand a real-time F2P user experience that helps players answer predictive questions during breaks between a game, irrespective of whether they are in-venue or watching the game from the comfort of their home.

Fans will gravitate more towards an experience that allows them to interact with live content. As of today, Fan-Beat is the only company that is offering a real-time F2P experience that seeks to educate fans and boost engagement in a bid to attract new customers and maximize their profits.

The Future of F2P Gaming

With Real-Time F2P taking the center stage, media companies can expect their ratings to hit the roof, thus allowing them to make moves like charging premiums for their advertisements and increasing the value of their broadcast rights deal. We’ve already seen the likes of NASCAR use F2P to drive fan engagement with great success and we are bound to see more of these in the future as the current ongoing pandemic becomes a thing of the past.

By now it is a well-established fact that the acquisition cost per player for F2P’s is extremely reasonable. F2P allows gaming operators to acquire more players at a lower cost. It is advisable for digital gaming operators to offer players an early and continuous F2P option to witness acquisition costs as low as $10 per player. Not everything depends on the F2P model though as the product itself should be engaging enough to incite excitement among fans. The game should possess a user-friendly interface and offer content that is instantly fascinating.

However, developing a F2P product that is engaging can be challenging as the model is constantly evolving with many operators already pushing the envelope. One way to develop a quality F2P product that emphasizes innovation is by working closely with a reputable gaming app or website development company.

Vinfotech is one such company that has the resources, experience, and developers needed to help you develop a F2P product that is capable of driving fan engagement, building or enhancing your brand’s image, and helping you stand out in an already swamped market.

Get in touch with us today to learn how we can bring your vision for a robust gaming app to life.

About Vinfotech

Vinfotech creates world’s best fantasy sports-based entertainment, marketing and rewards platforms for fantasy sports startups, sports leagues, casinos and media companies. We promise initial set of real engaged users to put turbo in your fantasy platform growth. Our award winning software vFantasy™ allows us to build stellar rewards platform faster and better. Our customers include Zee Digital, Picklive and Arabian Gulf League.

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