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:
I'm glad fans of the game can get rid of the ads now, but IAPs were entirely not worth the effort and a pretty dumb business move. Oh well.
— Frank Condello (@ChaoticBox) May 13, 2015
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.