Freemium games are making headlines as USA Today reported on the growing trend of free-to-play games such as Disney's Club Penguin and RuneScape that have drawn in millions of players across the globe. While the article doesn't tell anything well informed gamers don't already know, it does show how mainstream our little hobby has become. Not long ago you would have been hard pressed to find anything in a newspaper about video games that someone wasn't doing their best to link to some sort of violent crime. However, as today has shown, many people are playing and it's starting to make news as it appears in USA Today's Lifestyles section. The article goes on to discuss several of the free-to-play games on the market and how they generate revenue through the use of item malls or a freemium service.
Free online game destinations such as Disney's Club Penguin and RuneScape have drawn millions of younger players with no-cost, often ad-supported offerings, then made money by encouraging folks to chip in for additional access and features.
This "velvet rope or VIP club model" of subscriptions or tiny transactions gives players "a better experience," says Michael Cai of market research firm Interpret.