launch pricing (.99 vs 1.99)

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by bishopia, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. bishopia

    bishopia Active Member

    Jun 29, 2010
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    Hello! Our first game is well into development (two programmers, one artist) and we've been thinking about pricing. Do you guys have any advice/experience to share regarding launching at .99 vs 1.99? 1.99 gives us flexibility to put it on sale but it looks like all the top apps are .99. Any thoughts would be helpful. 2.99 definitely seems too high.

    I'm excited to share our progress with you all once we've got stuff we feel comfortable showing :D
     
  2. madmud101

    madmud101 Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2009
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    Well, most of it is down to how much content is offered with the game.

    Is it a simple casual game with not much level progression and low replayabilty? Then people might not be so willing to pay $1.99 for it.

    Otherwise if it offers great content, but not enough to be priced at $2.99 then $1.99 would be your best bet, but also adds flexibility like you say to do a sale.
     
  3. CodeCritical

    CodeCritical Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2010
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    First, I have no real experience on this as we have not launched our game either, but I have been doing a fair amount of research.

    One argument I keep seeing for starting at 1.99 is that you can always go down and, in fact, many sites track a reduction in price so you would get a bump in awareness for a price drop.

    That being said, your most opportune time is your first few days of release so I'm not sure it's a good idea to over price from the get go.

    Then again, Apple did it and well, seemed to go OK for them ;)

    I'm looking forward to hearing some real world feedback on this.
     
  4. minyx

    minyx Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2010
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    You can always put up the price for 2 or 3 days and then lower it to get mentioned on the price tracker pages.
     
  5. CreadGames

    CreadGames Member

    Aug 10, 2010
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    #5 CreadGames, Oct 19, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
    That is not a very kind way to treat your first customers, making them pay more because they supported your app early on.

    I think .99 is a good “launch sale price”. It incites consumers to buy it early before the price goes up. Also, all of the top five games are 99 cents; 90% of the top ten and 68% of the top 25 also are (Octobre 18th 2010, App Store). This leans heavily on the assumption that iphone consumers are very prone to apps priced at 99 cents.

    The issue is of quantity(sales) vs quality(price value). It’s better to have three people buy it .99 then one at 1.99. However, this is all subjective to the price range of your game. I took for granted is was in the 1.99-.99 range, meaning a casual game with a decent amount of content. Of course, this is all opinion. Hope my thoughts could help.
     
  6. We'd recommend pricing low initially to incentivise sales that hopefully give you visibility in one of the charts. You can then increase the price a few days or week later. And then, if you're still not getting many sales drop the price again to get awareness through the price trackers.

    We believe this to be fair to your customers and makes commercial sense.

    I would also strongly recommend stating when the price will increase in your app description and stick to that date.

    Nigel @DistinctiveGame
     
  7. On the other hand, early adopters in almost every type of market usually pay more.
     
  8. For Trainyard, the developer started at $2.99 and rode the initial wave of exposure. Then, when it got featured by Apple, he waited a bit until the initial rise leveled off and then dropped the price to $0.99.

    Result? A nearly instant skyrocket to the top. Trainyard passed Angry Birds for a while as the #2 overall paid app and is still sitting at #5 after a week.

    Of course there were other factors in play, but the price drop at that specific time seems to have been a major factor. He showed a chart of the sudden increase in the hours following his price change.
     
  9. headcaseGames

    headcaseGames Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2009
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    Hollywood, CA
    if you have any kinda visibility at all prior to launch, or your app looks like it has decent production quality, I would suggest going for 1.99. The people who are interested to buy it no matter what (and those who support you) will not likely mind paying an extra buck; they just want to play your game, and I would suspect a decent percentage of them wouldn't mind being supportive.

    Depending on how it does out of the gate, you'd want to carefully drop to .99 if you think it's doing well already (getting reviews, posts in your thread, showing up on the chart). .99 will be a nice boost for all those "on the fence" people.

    what you don't wanna do is gouge (start at 4.99 or 6.99 or whatever) and then soon after drop your price. this will anger your early supporters and they will get their revenge in the reviews/rankings.

    finally, bear in mind that everything dominating the top ten is almost always .99
     
  10. flod

    flod Active Member

    Jan 5, 2009
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    I was thinking about the exact same thing for my next release and I think I'd go exactly for the way distinctivegames described.
    Launch with a sale price of .99 for a few days, then up it to 1.99/2.99 so you can later go on sale if necessary.
    If you create any pre-launch hype (which you should, I think) it would seem like a fair treatment to your early adopters, as opposed to starting high and shortly after settling for the bottom price.
     
  11. Stroffolino

    Stroffolino Well-Known Member
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    Apr 28, 2009
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    A price point of 0.99 cents, all things being equal, makes your app less likely to get featured by Apple. It also hurts your visibility under search results, which are biased to promote more expensive offerings.

    0.99 cents can also attract impulse buyers that will just as quickly impulse-delete, which can lead to a worse average user rating and hurt your long term prospects. This was one of the reasons Canabalt picked a price point of 2.99 and stuck with it.

    If you want to provide visibility to price-driven shoppers, use a free lite version.


     
  12. GlennX

    GlennX Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2009
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    It's a hard question to answer. It's possibly true to say that mega hits like Doodle Jump and Angry Birds wouldn't have made as much if priced over 99c but few games have that sort of visibility. When Ground Effect's initial burst was over I dropped to 99c, got a slight kick in sales but a drop in income. I tried this a couple more times (after another feature and an update) and each time the extra visibility never doubled the sales. For months now it's been trickling along at 20 or so downloads per day and I'm pretty certain that dropping to 99c again wouldn't help for more than a few days. I have a friend (selling even less than GE) who raised his price for 99c to 1.99 and noticed no drop off at all.
     
  13. 99c_gamer

    99c_gamer Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2009
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    ground effects looks like it's worth $1.99 easily. If someone wants a game like that they will definitely pay $1.99

    I think the answer lies in the complexity of your game. Most simple 2D 1 screen games are .99
     
  14. Doolwind

    Doolwind Member

    Oct 20, 2010
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    Thanks for the info Stroffolino. Do you have any further information on this? We're currently looking into our pricing model for our new game and this kind of information would be invaluable.
     
  15. bishopia

    bishopia Active Member

    Jun 29, 2010
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    Thanks, guys. This is all good stuff. We totally realize that there are other things going on with the mega-hit games and aren’t expecting those kind of numbers... (that's a lie, we want huge numbers! :cool:)

    Once the game is closer to completion i'd love to get some input on pricing from you all. The game is casualish/arcadey and has high production quality. We might be able to get away with 2.99. We shall see.

    Is that true about the search results being biased? I hadn't noticed that, but it obviously makes sense for apple.
     
  16. Foursaken_Media

    Foursaken_Media Well-Known Member
    Patreon Indie

    I think your target market is one key. Is it a casual game? -- then price lower. Is it designed for hardcore gamers? -- then you can probably get away with a higher price.

    Also what kind of buzz has your game generated leading up to release? If your game seems to be very well known, and people are interested in it at an early stage (ie lots of forum views, lots of youtube views, previews on several websites), then you can probably go for a higher price bc people will want that game no matter what. If its totally unknown, I personally might advise going lower.

    Also, I have seen no evidence to suggest that releasing at $0.99 hinders your chances to get featured...
     
  17. EssentialParadox

    EssentialParadox Well-Known Member

    Sep 21, 2009
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    There seems to be a common misconception about App Store pricing. $0.99 doesn't make a title successful. A good app and good marketing, coupled with luck, are what lead a title into being successful, and when it can possibly enter the bottom half of the Top 100. — THIS is when lowering prices might create a momentum to drive you to the very top of the charts.

    For most games however, the chances of getting into the top ten (or anywhere near) is incredibly slim. I figure the most sensible approach is to ignore all those low priced titles unless you're honestly expecting to go into the top of the store charts, because otherwise you'll never earn enough income at a price point of $0.99. Price your game according to your realistic sales expectations. If that means you end up pricing at four or five dollars, so be it; you'll still get sales at those prices. Those who buy your app when you're not high in the charts (or not in the charts at all), have either clicked your app thinking it looked interesting, or they've searched for it specifically, or they've been recommended it, and those customers are likely to buy your app whether it's $0.99 or $4.99. Evidence shows that, for those low in the charts, raising the app price doesn't affect sales as negatively as the reward gained from increasing your overall income.

    If you want to enter the lottery of trying to get to the top of the charts, by all means set at the lowest price points you can afford. But if you're entering the App Store hoping to create a real business on app development, you need to price properly based on realistic expectations. Good luck!
     
  18. Agreed. This is exactly what happened with Trainyard.

    Trainyard is a good game that got featured, got some good reviews at the same time and went to #50 or so. The dev dropped the price from $2.99 to $0.99 and it shot up to #2 ahead of Angry Birds even for a while.
     
  19. Stroffolino

    Stroffolino Well-Known Member
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    Apr 28, 2009
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    The best study of how search rankings work that I've seen is here:

    http://www.appsasabiz.com/2010/02/03/what-drives-itunes-app-store-search-rankings/

     
  20. headcaseGames

    headcaseGames Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2009
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    Hollywood, CA
    I hate talking about pricing! It's one of the most infuriatingest parts of the whole deal for me.

    Anyway, put our game 180 at one of those "2D 1-screen games." We jostle with our prices quite a bit. Here's some data to chew on:

    - did a free promotion early this summer, got tons of downloads, I think we are 3/5 stars now (got a ton of 1-star deletes as you'd expect)

    - we get LOTS of clicks on our banner ads, and maybe 30-ish DLs of our lite daily. No ads in the lite (....) and it probably gives away too much for free

    - when we are at .99 we get a couple sales a day (though we've had some nice, unexplained periods of ~20 a day here and there). When we price anything above that, it's more like a couple sales a week.

    .. I tried disabling the lite awhile back, but it didn't make any difference in sales.
    _____________________________________________________

    bottom line - if your game looks like it has some nice production values, and is not a 2D puzzle game, you can get away with asking a few bucks for it I think, provided you are doing some work to promote it somehow. If you're like me with a 2D puzzle game, stick to .99 if you intend to move units. (I know our game is $2.99 right now, but we've got a promotion coming up shortly..)
     

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