Good Freeware bad for business?

More or less freeware?

  • We designers should make as much freeware as possible

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Good AddOns should have their price

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
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In a german forum we have a discussion about the freeware-payware-problem:

Actually I think that freeware with payware-niveau is bad for business. Why don't we take money for the things we created in hundreds and thousands of hours?
The users begin to expect impossible things when buying payware. And why shouldn't they if the freeware they get is allready on a professional level?

What do you guys think?
I believe that there are some products out there that should be payware...for instance captain sims c130 which is an amazing aircraft and the amount of work that went into it is incredible and couldnt even imagine the amount of hours spent on it. I also believe that if it is going to be payware that your able to correct any issues as they may occur.

My suggestion would be to have a limited time free trial...this way the buyer knows exactly what the product does, looks like and then they could decide to buy afterwards.

I think with the quality of scenery and aircraft available plus the tools to construct them, users haveto realise its no longer a hobby that one dabbles with.
The hours required to build up ones knowledge and expertise to create software demanded nowdays should be rewarded if the Author chooses to produce payware.
The only downfall of producing a payware product is the requirment to support and patch where required and the needles critisism from users that have no conception of the time and labour required to produce the finished product.
Those who choose to produce quality software either as tools or finished product deserve all the accolades they can get but i think in general, users must at some stage, expect to pay for quality product and stop the negative critisism if they want addons for this hobby.
Either that, or learn to create thier own.

Just my Two Bob's worth


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This is an interesting question. Mostly in the past I have created software rather than scenery. If you sell anything then there is an implicit contract to support it, upgrade it and deal with any issues your users have. I never felt that I could put the time into providing the level of support and on-going development which a payware product would mean. For scenery and aircraft I am not sure where I stand.

However I do think there will always be a place for good quality payware. Also I think that the good freeware market ought to make developers of paid for products try harder - othewise what differentiates them from the freeware designers?


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That is exactly the point, Jon. Most payware-designers also use their evening- and weekend-hours for designing. The fact that they get a little money for it can't mean they have to do the impossible. I think the expectations of the Simmers are too great just because they see some great freeware-things and think: 'Hey, payware should be a lot better if even the freeware is as good as that!' :(
I know of folks that get extremely upset at the mere mention of payware, even if it's something as simple as a unsolicited recommendation.

I think you have a full spectrum of folks out there. Some that would pay anything to get that one particular model and some that won't pay anything no matter how good it is.

I think mostly you're paying for the support... well at least that's true with reputable companies. Some shove you out the door as soon as you've paid the bill. That being said, I have seen individuals post messages demanding support for freeware before. Kinda rude actually.

Of course there's plenty of software piracy going on out there too. Just yesterday someone over at the server asked me if I could email him the new Vancouver+ scenery by Holger Sandman and Jon Patch once I told him I had it. I told him no of course.

Free is always nice but it shouldn't be assumed. Consider 'free' to be a gift not a purchase.

Prof K.
Can't help! I voted for 100% freeware!

I only use freeware with FS and therefore I am happy about every good addon that is freeware! If some freewares are better than some paywares - i don't care. There are always people who demand more qualtiy for less money!

Just imagine the case that every good freeware gets payware:

Mike Stone
Project Opensky
Project Fokker
The sceneries of Amsterdam, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt, Rome ... not to forget the irish sceneries and lots more!
Freewares like SimpleFMC, Scumari FMC, EasyFBW, FSMetar, Snapper, ...

I wouldn't have anything else on my hard disc than the default scenery and some "more or less good" freeware sceneries, would have to fly with the default aircrafts with default liveries.

That would make no fun!

And think also about the programmers of the freeware tools for scenery design!

I spend every day about an hour searching the newest files on AVSIM, Flightsim, ... and reading some forums mostly to find out about new freeware I can use or give someone else a tip!

To be honest - I would have quit flying FS2004 long time ago if there was no really good freeware!

But I understand the reasons why some people give their work away as payware! They spend the time, so they have the right to be payed for it.
I am speaking out of school here, as I have very little FS payware on my computer. But when the goal becomes a commercial venture, I think the product usually suffers. First, it would seem impossible to spend the countless hours on a project necessary to make it out-standing, and still make it commercially successful. Second, the product would have to appeal to a very broad market to induce a significant amount of downloads, thereby reducing the number of special interest projects that some of us find so charming. Thirdly, payware should be designed with payware tools. So, to produce a commercial product, a designer will have a significant investment before he starts.
I can't help but believe that a major portion of Flight Simulator's success is attributable to those dedicated scenery and plane designers who produce something for their own pleasure and love of the hobby, and then generously share it with the rest of us. I can think of no better example than Milton Shupe's Beech 18. I have not checked recently on the number of downloads on Avsim, but I would venture to say that it would be greatly reduced if the price were a mere $20. At $20 a copy, I doubt if the financial gain would compensate these boys minimum wage for all of the hours they spent on the project....not to mention the time spent learning to do what they do.
On the other hand, nothing leaves a worse taste in the mouth than a payware plane that falls short of expectations.
I also believe it is Freeware that encourages the camaraderie and education found on these forums. If you are producing commercial products, you might tend to guard your knowledge a little more closely. Yet frequently I have witnessed surprisingly good results of newbies and "amateurs" who gained working knowledge from others on a forum.
One exception I will make....I wish Microsoft would sell (at reasonable cost), some of the tools that they use. I have grown quite fond of some of the freeware tools (like SBuilder, AFCAD to only mention 2), but dream of how much fun it would be to have one comprehensive easy to use scenery design tool. THAT would be a it would have the outcome of encouraging even more freeware scenery.

My two cents, please!
From reading the ACEs blogs, it appears that our tools are better than those used by Msoft. Of course, they've written software to take a worlds worth of data and translate that into vtp lines etc..but for graphics design they use 3dsmax, and their viewer is fs2004, so not much different for them as for us.



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This is an becoming a very interesting discussion. Let me start by saying that I did not vote on the poll, as I found the options too much black and white. I do certainly not think that all good scenery should be payware, but it could be payware. If the author has spend a lot of time on it (and maybe money to buy stuff like aerial photos), then he can of course ask a compensation for it. And then it depends on the FS users to decide if that amount of money is fair for that product. But to say that all good addons must be payware goes much too far for me.

In general there are other reasons than money that made people start doing this. Of all of us this is a hobby, so the main reason is fun. And usually a money will cost you money and not earn you money. So I think the main reason behind most addons is that we love to do what we do. Either recreate our local airport as best as we can or create the plane we like.

Let me take the Netherlands 2000 project, in which I am involved. We choose to be (and remain) freeware with a few good reasons, even though we could certainly sell our end product. One of the reasons is that we are a rather big team, with about 15 people. When you add money to that, it can easily lead to problems. Not all members have the same amount of time to spend and each has its own specialities. So how would you split up the money in such a case? I am sure that would lead to arguments and reduce the amount of fun we now have in doing what we do.

An even better reason for us to remain freeware, is that the fact that we are doing it for nothing has given us a lot. We have received data for free, that would have costs thousands of euros otherwise. People are pleased to help us and now and then we get a special "reward" (like a visit to the KLM flight simulators or an old simulator we can play with in a museum). Most of this would never have been possible if we were a commercial product.

I think every designer should start with at least one freeware project. That is certainly the best way to learn the tricks. I hate the posts that you see now and then from people that say" "Hi, I want to design a new commercial scenery of this airport, how would I do something like that?".

I think the FS world would not be as nice as it is now, when everybody would try to make as much money as he can. Let's take this site as an example. Would it be worth visiting for you all, if I tried to make money from it? Asking money to be able to read the useful information or use the tools I create? I don't think so.

So to summarize this all. I am not saying that payware is bad (I have been involved in a few payware projects myself as well), but I believe freeware should remain more important, as that is an integral part of the fun we get from this hobby.

PS. I think Bob makes a good point there, I don't believe MS has much better tools. The main reason for this is that they design different kind of sceneries. They do not attempt to make it as detailed as we want, they need to make a default scenery that is good enough for the entire world.
Good points Arno. I too felt strongly divided between the choices but in the end I flipped a coin.

Also, I hadn't given it much thought how dividing up the paycheck might affect the relationship between teams of large (or even small) numbers of people. Nor did I think about how freeware developers might see some special perks for their interest as "hobbyists" rather than "businesses"
One other consideration that is often missed with Payware and its cost, is the cost of marketing and packaging. This adds an enourmous amount to the product before one could could even break even on thier return for something that is really a niche market. Then you have the same old argument of the quality and value of the end product. Online download as opposed to Boxed product will help reduce price but in the end, its the appeal of the product that will sell it. Same goes to a point for freeware, its appeal will be what brings you back for more from that author regardless of payware or freeware and its the personal satisfaction that will bring users back to your next product, be it payware or freeware. For payware tho, your certainly , only as good as your last project.

Guys, do you really want to know why developers go payware?

As an excuse for spouses. :p

Anyways, I like payware as long as its good quality. I have no problem shelling out some cash for developers such as FlyTampa.
is payware being cheated?

I don't know if its been mentioned before, but there is a lot of payware cracking and hacking these days. I myself have the resources and places to get the stuff, but as above has been said, i only fly with freeware, i dont want payware, even when offered.

The reason i dont make payware is because its gonna get cracked in any case. If you spend money (like Arno said) on sattelite images or photograph/blueprint material, you want to outweigh your expenses on these, with revenue from the payware scenery. however, because it gets cracked you might not make as much revenue as expected.
In the end, freeware is a "got nothing to lose" mentality (for me at least), compared to payware.

However, i manage a scenery design group, and it is harder to get people to work out of free will. Freeware in that sense is based on will and motivation, while with payware, poeple get paid to work, so they probably have a stronger incentive (perhaps even a contract) to work.

But again, i think Flight simming should be a hobby, not a business. Even when you spend hours in it, i think the appreciation of the flight sim community for your work should be enough.

But unfortunately money is a basis of human society, so were not gonna get rid of it any time soon.
archtx said:
But when the goal becomes a commercial venture, I think the product usually suffers. First, it would seem impossible to spend the countless hours on a project necessary to make it out-standing, and still make it commercially successful. Second, the product would have to appeal to a very broad market to induce a significant amount of downloads, thereby reducing the number of special interest projects that some of us find so charming. Thirdly, payware should be designed with payware tools. So, to produce a commercial product, a designer will have a significant investment before he starts.
From experience, this just doesn't happen that way. If you discount the rather rare fabulous freeware that crops up now and then (and some dreadful payware) I'm more inclined to keep and use payware products long-term. I don't remember the last time I flew a freeware plane -- oops, except for the Christen Eagle which is perfect for testing scenery:)
I do think that there are some requirements for payware products though, and in my case the main thing we need here in New Zealand is some serious time devoted to scenery design. This isn't going to come from freeware designers, and even payware designers working in their spare time are just not going to make enough of a difference. Hence my decision to take it up full time.
I guess that anything here in New Zealand can be classed as 'special interest' -- we're talking a customer base in the hundreds, rather than thousands in the short term. And it was only when I made the decision to 'go payware' that I could justify the purchase of the tools I'd need.
The point I'm trying to make is that the biggest investment a designer can make is time -- which means that unless they are independently wealthy (I could be classed as 'independently poor') -- they need to charge for that time.
I think there's plenty of room though for freeware -- I plan to still dabble with freeware, although I've yet to figure out what sort of time to devote to this.
If you go to payware, you will have to think about some more things:

How to get the money?

You will need some payment organisation like Paypal because otherwise the banking fees will eat up most of the price! Once someone wanted to thank me for programming a gauge. He sent me a cheque over 15€. As I went to the bank, I got only 8 €! The rest was fees! :banghead:

Thats another reason why I stay with freeware!


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I think with PayPal these times have gone by. :)

It's interesting how many interesting points are being made here. The poll is a little black-white, I agree with that, but the main point is the discussion.
Another pertinent question might be if anyone here has actually bothered to follow through on donation-ware?

I once knew someone who requested you to donate blood if you found his product useful. A novel idea, but I doubt people actually followed through on 99.99% of the cases. He required blood transfusions often and I guess he wanted to do something to help replenish the supply.

FSHost is considered Postcardware. You send Russell Gilbert of Syndey Australia a postcard for using his program. Wonder if he's gotten enough to fill a fridge yet?

Freeware is great, but people do take it for granted.
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