We dug on Crowman and Wolfboy[$3.99]when it was released as a premium title late last year, but the invisible hand of the App Store has once again shown itself: developer Wither Studios just released a free version of the game.
The new Crowman & Wolfboy [Free] offers the same stylish, genre-blending platforming action as its premium predecessor, but it's gated by a set of in-app purchases and lightly dusted with more-or-less unobtrusive ads. The first six levels are free, but after that you'll need to pay $0.99 for the next nine, or $1.99 for the rest of the game (which also removes the ads). An Infinite Space mode will run you another $0.99.
Completely buying Crowman & Wolfboy is going to cost $2.99 either way, but the piecemeal version is slightly more flexible: if you're not interested in Infinite Space mode, you can still play all of the core levels and save a buck.
Either way, Wither Studios are only the latest devs to buy into an increasingly common trend: in a lot of cases, paid iOS games aren't making enough money to recoup their development costs. Farseer Games' Krashlander [Free / $1.99] went free last week, and the week before it was Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed [Free]. Just yesterday, we wrote about TreeFortress' decision to make Bardbarian [Free] free, too.
Don't mistake financial uncertainty for a lack of quality, either: we reviewed all of these games pretty highly.
In a post on our forums, TreeFortress' explained that they hope Bardbarian's in-app purchases will pull it into the black; on his own blog, Jeff Weber explains that his goal with the free version of Krashlander is to serve enough ads to increase his daily revenue. These newly freemium-ized games have different strategies, but their goals are always the same.
(Of course, the opposite can happen, too: Rocketcat Games' had to turn Punch Quest into a paid title because the in-app purchases in the free version weren't attracting enough customers.)
In any case, the App Store is now packing a freemium, "lite" version of Crowman & Wolfman. The game was also recently highlighted in PAX East's Indie Showcase, a collection of mobile diamonds in the rough. Maybe a boost on the free charts, PAX-based word of mouth, and this video of developer Doyle Daigle eating a habanero pepper and crying in agony can pull Wither Studios into calmer waters.
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