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There’s no such thing as a Free(mium) Game

We’ve all heard stories of kids spending hundreds of dollars in freemium games on their parents iPads, but the truth is, there are plenty of grown adults who spend thousands dollars in freemium games. In fact, these people are so crucial to the freemium model, they’ve been given a name by the industry: Whales. 

"A whale is a player that is willing to invest a significant amount of money in your game,” said Jared Psigoda, CEO of the browser game publisher Reality Squared Games, at Game Developers Conference Europe in August. “For most publishers out there … a handful of players make up a significant percentage of revenue, specifically once you get into the mid-hard-core, free-to-play type model.”

So who are these people?

Vince P., who also asked us to withhold his last name, has been playing the Facebook game Battle Pirates since early 2011. His total spend: over $16,000.

“It does kind of shock me, for sure, that it was that much,” said Vince, who goes by the username “Spoon” in Battle Pirates. “And it’s all for nothing.”

Vince is 45 years old, divorced, with a 16-year-old daughter. He says he makes between $200,000 and $400,000 annually. He looked positively distraught over the situation during a Skype interview with Wired, as he tabulated a list of his receipts. On Dec. 17, 2011 alone, he spent $207. Just two days later, he spent another $415. Later, in a single week in February, he put $700 into the game.

Read more at Wired.

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