Per Joystiq, Phosphor Games' highly atmospheric Infinity Blade-like Dark Meadow [$5.99] is going free to play. Unfortunately, instead of a standalone free to play version, the existing Dark Meadow will have its price dropped to free, with IAP taking the place of the previous $5.99 price tag.

In my experience, taking an existing "premium" title and shoehorning the free to play business model into it never, ever, ever turns out well. If you've ever owned Dark Meadow, and think you'll ever want to play it in its non-free to play form again, be sure to download it as soon as possible, sync your device, and backup the actual .ipa somewhere safe.

Joystiq mentions owners of the pre-freemium version of the game getting an "exclusive upgrade" when the game goes free. We've heard this "exclusive upgrade" involves removing the planned in-game ads and a bucket full of the IAP currency to spend. We'll have to wait until the update lands to see how good of a "deal" this is for existing owners, but, regardless, backup that .IPA file if you know what's good for you.

[via Joystiq]

  • John Usher

    Thanks for the heads up. Bought this a while back but haven't gotten round to playing it yet

  • nickmorgs

    How to upset your existing customer base in one foul swoop.

    I think i'll steer clear of Phosphor Games in the future.

    • Adams Immersive

      It’s OK IF—and only if—people like me who already paid still get the same thing they paid for. This “deal” is the big question mark, and makes me nervous.

      But IF they can use whatever model they need to pay their bills, AND give me what I already paid for, than I'll have no complaint. Don’t boycott them just because they MIGHT damage what we bought. Boycott them if they actually do!

      IAP/currency is indeed a warning flag, and backing up the old version sounds like a good safety measure. I’ll do that. But I don’t know enough to condemn the company yet.

      And if the new business model actually brings us more content in future, paid or otherwise, that we could never otherwise see? Then this would be a change for the better. Again, it all depends on exactly how they treat existing purchasers. Fingers crossed.

      • nickmorgs

         I hear you but, with the best will in the world, I know that somewhere down the line i'll
        forget i've backed it up and update the original game by accident or
        something similar.

        Backing up games like this to safeguard my purchases just isn't the sort of experience i've come to expect from owning an iOS device.  It should just be easier than that.

  • Matthew Nemeth

    That kind of stinks... I mean it does stink. Though I wonder if something else is coming down the pipe.. I really enjoyed this game

  • J.Shamblin

    I miss the days when you could blindly update an app and expect improvements. Now I have to worry about be screwed over.

    • Hans P. Köter

      I already have a list of 10 apps which I mustn't update under any circumstance, the majority bought apps which went freemium 🙁  So here comes number 11... BTW this was actually the very last app I solely bought because of TA prehype without waiting for qualified reviews.

      • J.Shamblin

        I have about that many that I can't update too. I don't mind the free to play approach, so long as I know what I'm getting into. I think it would be classy if Prosphor Games made a separate free to play version and left the paid version alone or removed the paid version completely from the app store if it conflicts with the free version. That way we wouldn't have to avoid updating the app.

        A tip for those who accidentally update the wrong app, check your Recycle Bin for the previous version and replace the new version with it.

  • CharlesDayton

    They should have learned from Gameloft and the fiasco of HOSII going free to play.  They got such a bad PR image that they changed the game back in just a few days.

  • Dylan Praesto

    well, that sux. i will never buy a game from Phosphor Games agan. this is so evil of a developer. atleast make two apps, one free and the other not. never never NEVER again, in protest. damn i hate evil developers -.-

  • Doodaz

    F@CK THIS. I paid a premium price for this game and NOW I FELT LIKE I GOT RIPPED OFF BIG TIME.  A BIG F U to Phosphor Games!

  • matthew wood

    app shopper tells me that they have reduced the price of the app to 99 cent for a week from Nov 22 - Nov 27 after this it shot back up to 5.99.
    obviously judging by this news even dropping it to a low price doesn't seem to earn them enough money. i personally bough the app at 99 cos i wanted to see what it was like, i didn't play it for that long but i didnt feel like i'd lost all that much.

    if i was to download this app for free and play for an hour, get introduced to in an IAP wall i would probably show them the finger and they wouldn't make a penny off me.
    if theres one thing more annoying than IAP its adds.

    bottomline is that games that are story driven dont need in app purchases, its pretty pointless when i know i'm going to reach the end with or without there goldenbow.
    people don't care about losing 99 cents, people hate IAP.

  • Kevin

    IAPs are the cancer killing the mobile gaming industry. 

    Can't we just stick with full-priced premium games?

    Gameloft was doing "pretty well" without them.

    • CHannum

      Well, while they clearly are "screwing the pooch" by not releasing a second freemium version of the game while keeping the original untouched, the fact is that most devs are losing money with "full priced premium games". The fact this is happening at all with a polished title like Dark Meadow is proof your assumptions are a load of horse manure.

      When most people will complain about a whole $1 being a rip off for something a team of human beings worked on for months, you've got to find those who don't mind paying for their entertainment vs. the leaches. IAP are often the best way to do that and they aren't going anywhere.

      There is nothing wrong with IAP just as there is nothing wrong with up front pricing, or combinations in between. Execution is everything, and those who think they should be able to routinely find 10, 20, 30 hours (or more) of entertainment for $1 are what's killing (really, only stunting because those people will be weeded out just like the bad devs) the mobile industry.

  • famousringo

    Thanks for the PSA! I truly appreciate it. Looking forward to a re-review from Toucharcade to tell me whether the upgrade is worth any freemium shenanigans.

  • app symmetry

    it's just so hard to believe that while they have 2,000+ iTunes reviews in the US AppStore, and knowing that there's loads more for other countries, as well as all of the users who don't write reviews, that they didn't make money off of this game... I know that it went down to a buck for a couple days... and that a lot of people got it then... but I just can't see how they lost money, unless they threw an unbelievable amount into the development of it, like the devs of Whale Trail did... 

  • Michael Evans

    Honestly this will be fine, if A) the rest of the game is unchanged, and B) people who paid for it do not under any circumstances, have any ads.  I won't freak out over this, but I certainly won't update until I hear that it is safe.
    EDIT: Honestly, I thought you could already buy gold in IAP, but I checked and you can't. I guess that was Infinity Blade.

  • Charles Albert

    I vote for the substitution of the word "freemium" for one more fitting, like "crappium" or perhaps "freecrap".

  • jeffyg3

    These stupid upgrades for these situations are utter crap. I've removed the game from my 64gb iPad 2 cause I needed space and was planning to go back to the game some time later. I'm not planning to put the game back on my iPad soon though. I can back up the IPA, but I would really really hate that stupid icon telling me I have updates and what if in the future an iOS update makes the old good version of the game have problems running on my device. I wouldn't be able to upgrade to a stable version or anything.

    I think it's better just remove the game from iTunes alltogether and definitlely NEVER support this developer again. What a waist of $6. Phosphor games can go down the tubes for all I care, and I hope they do.

  • TooMassive

    I despise this behavior, and I'm a dev of a premium-priced game which hasn't made back our development costs. We would never do this to our paying customers. These are the people who've supported us through thick and thin, and this behavior would be a big F U to them. It's not the customer's fault that the revenue didn't materialize as expected. In fact, these types of cases are ripe for a class-action lawsuit if you ask me. The only real question is whether the company has enough money to go after (probably not).

    The bottom line is: no matter what the dev tries to do to mitigate the problem, some customers will get screwed. Haven't played? Screwed. Remove the game from your device, reinstall: screwed. Get a new device: screwed. Etc. Otherwise you have to maintain a list of apps not to update with the ugly notification staring you in the face. The only ethical solution is to create a new freemium app.

    I will not buy another app by these bozos.

  • John Francis

    I just feel bad for these guys because I'm guessing this meant it didn't sell too well. And that UE3 engine ain't free...

    I bought it too but honestly don't care enough to back up my .ipa. I played for a few minutes and when I couldn't just save my game anywhere I got kinda frustrated. May go back to it sometime, though.

  • clocknova

    Just bought it.  So far I have to say the game seems pretty contrived.  I mean, really--there's gold coins stashed ALL over an abandoned hospital?  And just where exactly am I supposed to spend them?  I can buy weapons, but apparently I can do so from thin air.  This game feels like it wants to be "Amnesia: The Dark Descent," but it just keeps missing the mark.