Ad removal IAP. A popular option in free games with ads, right? Well, one developer is suggesting that it's not the case. Frank Condello of Chaotic Box recently added an ad-removal IAP to SHREDD [Free], formerely known as dEXTRIS. The game had been free with ads for a year before Condello added in an IAP to remove ads. How's it doing? Well, Mr. Condello, take it away:

Ouch. The developer replies underneath don't exactly leave one brimming with confidence that this is an exception to the rule. The numbers so far? Condello told me:

It's only been out a week so these numbers might not make statistical sense, but I've sold 28 "no ads" and 68 "all themes + no ads"... Most of those sales were on day 1, and it quickly dropped to 1 or 2 a day. 400,000+ downloads for the update, the game sees ~10K DAU [Daily Active Users].

So, essentially, .1% of the people who play the game daily, if even that, have bought the IAP. To be fair, we don't know how it would have done if it was added at launch. And the game reportedly suffered losses in downloads and players after the name change, spurred on by trademark issues. And the IAP unlock isn't exactly front-and-center in the app. But the point goes that despite vocal complaints over not having said IAP, people aren't going into a frothing frenzy to buy said IAP when it's finally offered. Perhaps this situation could have been better, but this shines a light on a sad truth: you see few developers getting rich off of the ad-removal IAP business model.

Mediocre seems to be doing well enough off of a $1.99 IAP unlock model, but they do more than just a standard "no ads/full game" unlock. And they also get a ton of downloads. Like, at least 10 million on Google Play alone for Smash Hit [Free], to the point that even if 1 out of every 1000 players gave them $1.99 for their IAP (which might still be a generous estimate for Android), they're doing okay, sure. But they're a two-person team. And getting tens of millions of downloads is very difficult. And if it's not even worth the time to put it in to games after launch, you likely won't see other developers putting it in at any point.

  • HarryWarden

    The no ads IAP doesn't work because if you want no ads, enabling Airplane mode is enough.

    • MrXax

      I'm guessing most people can't be bothered putting their phone into Airplane mode every time they use an ad-supported app.

      • cofunguy

        This article seems to indicate the opposite....that one can work around ads by going to airplane mode.

      • MrXax

        I'm willing to bet most people just put up with the ads. I hardly ever notice them.

      • HarryWarden

        Not an issue for us that do most of our gaming on our iPad πŸ™‚

  • Breinstein

    Maybe i am nog seeing the complete picture but adding Γ  remove ads iap

    • Breinstein

      Oops sth went wrong ... Adding a remove ads iap surely isn't a lot of work to program .. So if almost nobody buys it the loss income will not be noticeable , and you still get the iap money. If lots of people buy the iap well then the plan succeeded. So adding a remove ads iap should be a win win? But as I already said I do not have the big picture, so there maybe other reasons publishers are not keen on adding it

      • Eli Hodapp

        It's still development time, and something a developer needs to build. Adding IAP adds complications to the game, how it interacts with the App Store, and how it retains/restores those purchases. Even if it's something that takes an afternoon, that time has value to you, and could be used to make something better that ~all~ players can enjoy versus something sub-0.1% of players who actually put their money where their mouth is on the no-ads IAP.

      • Alex_Gol

        I am not a follower of the idea that F2P game with ads shouldn't by definition have IAP to remove them as well (as I am sure you are too). It doesn't make anyone happy to see ads all the time, when f.e. a person is ready to pay in order to get rid of them. It should be a norm rather an option picked by developers. Otherwise people will just use airplane mode as last resort or simply play offline (which will lead to always-online games). IAP which removes ads is something that should be kept in mind by all developers making ad-supported games and should be considered and treated as sort of donation to help developers in long run (though just showing up ads may generate more money, no lies) by users.

      • Adams Immersive

        I know what you mean--I'd chalk the failed experiment up to experience. However: any programming task sounds easy from the outside, but usually carries a domino effect of other little issues. Does the missing ad cause certain users to see a high score list cut off on one side? Better track down that bug! Does it mess up the code that determines the sizes of your menus? Does fixing those things cause other problems? Maybs some that are hard to track down because they only happen in rare situations? Etc. And simply managing the ad and IAP systems takes time and isn't always user-friendly behind the scenes. So hours can turn into days for a simple feature.

        Let's say adding the IAP task goes well, and even after testing and management time, it's only 2 days, or 16 hours' work. The dev's cut of $1.99 is $1.39, with income tax subtracted from that in April: leaving $1.18 if you're in a 15% tax bracket. But you also lose the ad revenue forever from a user who was apparently a pretty dedicated player. Let's say you walk away with a buck. Now, how much do you need to make for your 16 hours' work? Let's say you're aiming for a meager $25/hour or else you'll have to work another job instead. You'll need to sell 400 ad-removals. (At least for now, until the OS or middleware or ad system changes and more time may be needed of you.) If you get 400 you're at break-even. Will you get 500? Will you get 10? And did it really take only 2 days to do, or a week? Did messing with your game cause bugs that angered users and hurt your player growth indrectly? So, that's why it's a gamble that may backfire. (And the other gamble: a subset of people will actively seek out games with a no-ad option, but another subset will see IAP listed and immediately boycott. Which group is larger?)

        Then compare the opportunity cost. Maybe you sold 1000 ad removals and made a slim profit on a couple days' of your time. But you could have spent that time working on a whole new game! Or anything.

        Or you may get lucky: maybe you program for just 2 hours, do 2 hours of management work and answering support emails from people who don't see their IAP, never cause any bugs in the process, and sell 10,000 ad-removals! But don't count on it. And $10k is still not much of a year's income.

  • Quazonk

    Well I guess we can all look forward to the grim future of ad-supported F2P games we ("premium", "hardcore" gamers willing to shell out good money for a good game) have been dreading then. I guess that's the price you pay living in a world where there used to be a handful of game developers, and now there are a bazillion trillion of them needing to get paid somehow.

  • Wizard of Odyssey

    Ugh Carter, don't use clickbait headlines, even in jest. Ugh.

    Interesting anecdote. No one should mistake it for data.

    But that headline. Guh.

    • Adams Immersive

      Make Your Game a Success With This One Weird Trick!

      (I thought the "Shock You" headline was funny, though.)

      Good reminder that an anecdote is different from data (but I still find developer's anecdotes interesting).

    • Carter Dotson

      OMG! Carter used a clickbait headline. You won't believe what happened next!

      • Wizard of Odyssey

        This Weird Trick Will Filter a Terrible Writer Out of your Touch Arcade RSS Feeds

      • Andrew Fretz

        Does it work on comments? I WANT TO KNOW MORE!!! THROWS CLICKS AT SCREEN!

  • nonstickron

    I wonder if he makes more $ off of someone paying for the unlock, or someone who doesn't and continues to generates ad revenue.

    • Chaotic Box

      I wonder this too. I don't collect enough analytics to ever know for sure, but many ads pay upwards of $2 for a single install. I'd suspect a person who buys the IAP wouldn't be clicking on ads in the first place though.

  • Adams Immersive

    I'm making my upcoming game ad-supported, mainly from pessimism that traditional paid games are less likely to survive. I don't like ads, though--they offend me as an artist (not just a player) the same way it would offend me to slap ads inside a movie or painting or song I was making. So I'm planning to include an ad removal option--half from my own compulsion to make a pure experience of the game possible, and half in the hopes that a few pro-Premium users will enjoy it more as a result and maybe tell their friends. But not in the expectation that it will bring much added income at all. I'm also unable to put very MANY ads in--I just can't make myself do it. A banner at the bottom of the Pause menu, and the choice to watch a video ad to skip "Extra Credit Missions." (Which you can skip in other ways as well--I don't want anything to flat-out require an ad view.) It's an experiment, we'll see! I have not quit my day job...

  • gaymerX

    "The results may shock you"

    Actually, no they don't shock me. I could have predicted the outcome of that. These high score chaser arcade games don't seem to do enough to make players want to buy the ad removal IAP. If the game offered more in terms of gameplay then it might incentivize players to remove ads. Then again, the dev could make ads more intrusive in order to generate those IAPs, but that also makes players angry. It's a no win situation.

  • ShinHadoukin

    1) ad removal should be an IAP from the start for those who hate ads.
    2) it is idiotic to think that every game should make millions. A few social (candy crush would not have the success it has if it had just been a game that came out on mobile) games make a ton, now every developer thinks they should be millionaires. How about you make games b/c you like making games & can make money, then if one explodes & you make millions then be thankful.
    3) I like this game, but what about this game makes you think it should make him enough to retire? I want all great developers to make money & make more games, but let's be realistic.

    • ShinHadoukin

      To clarify, candy crush would not have its success if it had been a mobile game only. It was s social Facebook game 1st.

    • Chaotic Box

      Who said anything about expecting/wanting to make millions? When I released the game last May I immediately started work on another game, in between my regular contract work. My highest estimates for revenue were in the $20K range for the year, and I would've been happy with anything over $5K. I was more shocked than anyone when it hit the top 10...

      Don't assume everyone in mobile games is in it for a quick buck just because a bunch of greedy assholes rule the roost.

  • Jay

    I just hate ads. I'm so sick of them I won't even download free games that have ads. I stopped watching TV because of the commercials and if God didn't make Adblock I would have quit the internet a long time ago.

    Death to all ads!

    • Eli Hodapp

      B-b-b-but ads are the exclusive way we pay for sites like this to even exist. πŸ™

      • Goggles789

        I can understand his point. We are over saturated with advertising. It's impossible to avoid. I can feel for the OP; I want an escape so I play a game, only to be shown more advertisements. I don't want those in my favorite escape. That being said, I am in the same boat. I stopped TV due to ads, I skip or avoid all the ads on YouTube that I can and I actively ignore any advertising I can. It's just too much.

      • Jared Nelson

        So blocking those ads so that the content creators have zero source of revenue is alright just because you don't like them?

      • Goggles789

        I don't block ads. I avoid them. Like the plague. I'm not trying to squelch people making money. It's a beast too great for one person to tame. Yet, I don't have to participate. I'm ok with people making money however they want, but I am not required to participate in terms of advertisement due to principle. Your statement is pretty sensational. I'm not creating a situation where someone is earning zero income, as you say!

      • Jared Nelson

        You were agreeing with the OP, who openly states he blocks our ads and provided a link for others to download ad block software.

    • Agkelos

      Ads are the generators of revenue for all kinds of media, be it printed, electronic, etc. Without ads, there would basically be no media entertainment.

      • Andrew Fretz

        Sorry but no level of reason or logic will penetrate that level of entitlement.

    • Jared Nelson

      Hooray, you're part of the reason there will be no TouchArcade in the next couple of years.

      • Jay

        You'll find something else to do and life will go on.

      • Jared Nelson

        I feel sorry for you.

      • Carter Dotson

        So you're saying we can crash at your place when you destroy our lives? Sweet! PARTY HARD.

      • collider

        You guys can crash at my place, but I'm warning you I do play iPhone games at night... I don't want it to bring back bad memories about the great site you used to have that @Jay:disqus ruined.

      • collider

        Hey - only a little off topic Jared, but when I buy apps I purposefully come here and click through your links on the review page or the forums because I always assume you're getting a small piece, is that actually true?

  • pauldavidmerritt

    Here we go again πŸ™‚ - As I've stated in other threads, get ready for the next massive wave of Premium awesome-ness. Premiums are coming back, and the whole IAP marketing wheel is exponentially downsizing. It's about dang time.

    • DuckingGold

      You're delusional.

    • Stormourner

      premium games without IAPs isn't enough to support the developers

  • nadav bar kama

    two different issues! 1.SHREDD/dEXTRIS is a realy great game.
    2. putting in ugly banner ads, just to ask for a payed removal of them ... totally doesn't feel right ... not is this game, not in any game ...

    • Chaotic Box

      I tend to agree. But asking for money upfront doesn't really work either :/

      I'm still uncomfortable with ads but I try to be as respectful as possible. I only show banners in the menus (never during game play) and interstitials pop up only when nothing else is on screen, and only after a few long-ish runs.

      • cadaei

        I asked the mrs her opinion on ads when making my last game. I didn't want them to be too in your face. She said that she removes ads from games for the kids when they are overly annoying. Since I didn't want to make them in your face i just released for free. (With a link to my other paid games - haven't quit my day job yet)

        In Shred, you don't really notice the ads, so aside from goodwill, there is little incentive to remove the ads. If you had an interstitial ad between each run, I would expect to see more add removal purchases.

        I think the indie gamer and dev mindset is different then a casual user.

        Note, not saying one method is better then the other, just sharing an opinion I received that was different then how I had thought about it before.

  • MrThickDick

    I don't keep games with ads, I'll stop playing games before I support free to play games with intrusive ads or outrageous IAPs. I'll gladly pay to remove ads if there no other IAPs.

  • coolpowers

    No surprise at all. Despite the (very) vocal anti-ad crowd here, the vast majority of mobile gamers do not care about ads, and the conversion rates prove it. The only reason I ever bother putting ad removal IAP in my games is because I still have an illogical guilt about putting ads in in the first place.

  • Chaotic Box

    Wow lots of comments πŸ™‚ I feel I should clear up a few (dozen) things...

    The tweet quoted in the article reads more melodramatic than it sounded in my head. The game is running on fumes these days and for a bunch of dumb boring reasons the update took way longer than I had planned. Basically that time would've been better spent working on something new, hence the "dumb business move". The fact that IAPs are increasingly easy to hack even on jailed devices plays into this as well.

    Like many of you, I'm not surprised by these results. I've been in this business long enough to know how this stuff goes down. I'm disappointed sure, but I've shrugged off worse... much worse.

    I'm still glad players have a legit way to get rid of ads. I don't like them either, but I've released several paid games over the years and few to none broke even, never mind made profit. If ads pay the bills and allow me to keep making games then so be it. Believe me, if I could make enough money from paid games I'd toss ads in a heartbeat - ad SDKs are THE WORST THINGS EVER D:

    So I hope this doesn't come across as a sob story. SHREDD exceeded every expectation when it was released a year ago and whatever it does now is gravy. SHREDD will fund my next game, and maybe the one after that - that'll do πŸ™‚

    • Tom Swayer

      i understand.. your game stays on my iPad . Its a good game. Watching ads doesn't really bother me that much if it isn't ridiculous. I think people are just way too impatient...and ungrateful...

    • Toasty_Cat

      I just wanted to say I played SHREDD a TON when it was still a wee DeXTRIS, and it was like the one game I was actually mad I couldn't pay IAP for to support you! So when I saw the update I went straight to get the all themes and remove ads, because even though I don't play it as much, (I do like to have a quick shred every now and then...) it's one of my favourite score chasers and you deserve some money for making an awesome game! Can't wait to see what else you release! πŸ™‚

      • Chaotic Box

        Cheers πŸ˜€

  • TheSootyOne

    As someone who has a game featured in the store right now, I can unequivocally say that ad removal in game is about 1/10th of 1 percent of the revenue compared to the actual ad revenue. People put up with ads or just don't care to pay to remove them. I won't be putting ad removal in my next game.

  • Adan

    "The result will shock you"
    Kill me now. I see that TouchArcade is now resorting to the shameful 'click bait' used by countless other sites.

    • Eli Hodapp

      It's sarcasm, as we've posted about this thing many times before. Ad-removal IAP always bombs. πŸ™‚

  • Tom Swayer

    Well, I'm turning off adblock. I love this site, and I come here almost everyday. I rely on you guys so that I dont miss a thing when it comes to iOS game releases. If sites would ask the visitor if they want adblock enabled, I think many would turn it off for the sites they wish to support. Maybe its not the right way, but its the only way right now.

    However, if they never ask--- You dont think about it. I didn't think to turn it off until now.

    I've been playing video games for 23 years--- get over the ads. It is a necessary evil. Anyone complaining doesn't understand or doesn't want to. Commercial advertising is everywhere. Attack it somewhere else, don't squelch game designers because you cant stand 25 seconds of a Game of War advertisement. lol... You know I get your ire at commercial advertising but it could be better directed somewhere else. Not at these guys.

    • Tom Swayer

      btw Neon FM is coming out this month and you should let people know. !

  • 1ButtonStudio

    It is not surprising at all. Remove ads IAPs are mostly used by jailbreakers and there are only a few people who really enjoy and love a game that will buy them. We see them more like a love and support IAPs than something than can actually make money.

  • unexpect3rd

    My "Singularity - Modern Lights Out" was featured on US store front recently. At that point it was purely ad supported with no options to remove ads. And yes, I got all the whines for a ad removal option.

    Then the following update came with the ad removal option (and Apple Watch Support!), and yea, revenue from the IAP did not really make it worthwhile. I don't even know how many of them hacked the IAP. One of them even posted a review (shown to all who visits the app page) on how to legally disable the ads without buying IAP.