What is better than creating a product that people are willing to purchase?  Creating a free product that people get so attached to that they want to give money back to the creator.  The concept of freemium has been around for quite some time, but has taken some new steps to getting into the limelight.  With companies creating free blogs around their material and some games adopting a freemium concept to increase profits, I would like to argue that freemium is a viable business model that can work in many circumstances.

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Freemium plays well with the “try before you buy” mantra.  You have a chance to see what someone is offering and see if you like it before you dedicate to the product.  This can be done with a company’s service, like looking at Steve Van Remortel’s blog with Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream.  He uses his blog to help share his insights with business strategy in a no commitment setting, but also offers a book and strategic management services for anyone who is interested past his free advice.  Credibility is built by seeing the product offering and catching glimpses on how it work and from comments the post generates.  Overall it is a strong strategy for trying to push a name out to the greater populace.

Freemium is even better known in the gaming realm.  Facebook has helped to host many freemium games, with Farmville being one of the most successful.  While Farmville may be popular and have people wanting use their hard earned money to buy in game features, it does not quite generate the same momentum as a different internet sensation.  Riot Games has one of the strongest freemium models with their signature game League of Legends.  League is a multiplayer online battle arena game where players face off against each other to try to destroy the opposing team’s nexus.  It has over 100 different choices of playable champions, with ten free ones rotating each week.  Players can use in game points to unlock champions for good, or players can purchase champions to permanently add them to the roster.  Players can also purchase alternate arts or skins for the champions they love.  The entire game can be played by anyone for free, yet Riot has created a product in which people willingly pay money for things they could have gotten for free.  If that isn’t dedication and love for a product, I’m not sure what is.

What are your thoughts on freemium?  Do you see it as a marketing fad that will die off in a few years or a viable strategy that more companies will adopt in the future?

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