As free to play has become more and more of a thing on the App Store, developers from all over the world have been trying to figure out how to crack the nut of making IAP systems that feel “fair," while still making enough money to continue making games. For Strange Flavour, this meant implementing a system they called “Play Nice.". Cliffsnotes basically amount to they structured their games as free to play titles, but with a maximum spending potential. Here’s how they explained it when it was first announced:
Unlike other IAP based systems, Play Nice always has an “All you can eat” option that permanently unlocks all optional content. What’s more, when a player purchases any of the lower priced content, the cost of that is taken off the price of the All You Can Eat item meaning they’ll never pay more than a fixed amount. Once the player has purchased All You Can Eat, it’s theirs permanently.
We thought it was a neat idea, or an interesting experiment at least, so we named Any Landing, a game that used it, as our Game of the Week. Additionally, if you listen to forum chatter and internet comments where people are always clamoring for a “fair" IAP system, so naturally Play Nice was a smash hit as those same people voted with their wallets in a massive show of confidence that this is the kind of thing they wanted… Right?
Per a recent news post on the Strange Flavour site, the Play Nice games haven’t done well at all- Which again, is perplexing, as they delivered effectively exactly what the people who are always complaining about IAP say developers should make. From their site:
Our Play Nice system has been an interesting experiment in seeing if we can provide Free to Play games without over the top and unlimited micropayments and still earn enough revenue to fund game development. However it’s not really done well enough to pay the rent. We’re also not entirely happy with how free games are perceived and simply put, we’re having to do a lot of extra hard work to make games work for Play Nice without any real benefit.
So, from here on out, the plan is to make all their games paid. Existing Play Nice games will stay on the App Store, but will be joined by full paid versions of those same games. Additionally, their upcoming game, Tiny TrackZ is (obviously) going to be paid as well. Anyway, we’ll have more news on Tiny TrackZ as the game nears release, if you want a clue what it’s all about, take a look at this work in progress screenshot.
At the end of the day, it sucks that the Play Nice system didn’t pan out as well as Strange Flavour had hoped, but it provides a valuable lesson for developers working inside the wild world of the App Store: The vocal minority of people who don’t like common IAP models isn’t a super-viable customer base to build your studio around.