Video games developers are now wooing customers in emerging markets by making their games available online for free.
So far games developers have been wary about emerging markets in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa due to privacy concerns and copycat versions of their games being released. They are hoping that the users will pay for add-on features.
For instance Electronic Arts(NASDAQ:EA)’ `Command & Conquer' will be available free online next year. So will Ubisoft Entertainment's seven new titles that are browser-based and free to play.
Video game makers are planning to push free games with extras that cost often less than a dollar in countries where disposable income is low and piracy has hurt revenue.
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“With the growing availability of mobile devices and PCs, the number of potential customers is rapidly expanding, especially in emerging markets,” Frank Gibeau, head of labels at Electronic Arts, the world’s second-largest game developer by revenue, told Bloomberg.
“The free-to-play model makes our games accessible to these audiences.”
Emerging markets in Europe have not yet adopted gaming consoles as widely as in the United States. Users in these countries are more used to playing with handsets than with game consoles.
In many countries, people don’t often buy games. In Eastern Europe, 81 percent of gamers had played free online games in the previous three months when questioned in spring 2010. At the same time, 51 percent of gamers in the region hadn’t bought or been given a game in the previous year.