Why I never liked the term ‘whales’


If you follow this blog you probably know what a whale is in the context of freemium games. If you follow this blog you might have (or not) noticed that I have not used the term whale. Or freeloader… or minnow… or dolphin!

I have very strong feelings regarding this. Here’s why. 

Behind every download, every game session, every purchase, every event there’s a person. Behind every aggregation, every cluster, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people. They are someone else’s other significant other, someone else’s son or daughter.

You are entitled to think that I’m too sensitive about this. That’s fine. I’m not asking you to stop using what is now almost an industry standard denomination. But I am telling you that I won’t use it.

By doing this we are dehumanising our players. The ones that play our games, that pay our salaries, the ones that tell their friends that we are awesome, the people whose eyes shine when we say we worked on that game that they are playing.

If we were calling them whales because of their nice voice and gracious movement in the ocean I would be fine with that. But that’s not the reason is it? Are you ok with portraying the segment of people that most contribute to our industry as a big fat mammal?

I’m not ok with it, so I won’t use it. I guess the question is what do I call them? That depends on what I’m working but in a vacuum, I’ll call the segments Top, High, Medium and Bottom payers.

While dolphins is not that bad, minnows and whales is a very unfortunate term to segment the people we work to entertain. I hope this has offered a chance for new terms to pop up and be used.

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