Paid to Freemium

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by mapacible, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. mapacible

    mapacible Member

    Feb 25, 2012
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    Here's my story so far:

    I released Innkeeper HD last week with no knowledge of marketing whatsoever. I only started contacting review websites and journalists to request for reviews at the same day I released it (big mistake!). I got 1 review around Friday (from AppAdvice) that gave it 3 stars. The reviewer was unable to figure out how to scroll up the screen to view the higher floors (there was a tutorial that teaches the player how to do it by swiping up which the reviewer might have missed). On her review blurb, it pretty much states that the game was fun but unplayable due to that bug. I discussed it with her to clarify the issue. As you can see if you check her review now, she has updated it but I think the damage has been done.

    Anyway, after receiving my first review I was hopeful that I would get more this week but that has been my only review so far. The game does not have the best production values due to it being made by a one man team but it has great gameplay and was well received on flash game portal websites (the game was originally a free flash game ported to the ipad). It even won weekly (1st) and monthly (3rd) contest on kongregate.

    I do understand why reviewers did not check it out in favor of the more high profile games but I was kinda hoping an indie game with good merits would get a bit more love than this :( The game has sinked down after this Thursday's big releases and I don't think it will recover unless a miracle happens.

    Right now I think I have two options:
    1. Put an update that would change the game from Paid to Freemium (the fourth, fifth and sixth floors would have to be bought via IAP of $0.99 each)
    - is this an acceptable practice? i'm just worried at its effect on the customers that already bought the paid app.

    2. Put a separate freemium version with the exact same features as #1 but as a separate release coexisting with the paid app
    - will apple allow this?

    I think both options are viable. Not sure which one is better and I'm not sure if either of them is allowed. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Moonjump

    Moonjump Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2010
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    Game designer
    Lincoln, UK
    Changing a piad app to freemium is a bad idea. You will upset the customers you do have. See the Whale Trail reviews on the App Store for what can happen.

    Release a separate freemium version. You are allowed to do this.
     
  3. mr.Ugly

    mr.Ugly Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2009
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    Berlin, Germany
    well that goes both ways.. templerun was paid, jetpack joyride was too..

    there is no rule to go by.. in the end if you barely have any customers it does not even matter

    if you have a solid base make it worth their while. for example unlock all floors for them.. or for iap currency games give them a huge amount of that currency..
     
  4. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    I'd say go this route even if you DON'T have a solid base. If you've only got 30 players, then it costs you virtually nothing to keep them happy.

    Also, be sure to not remove anything they currently have if they update to the freemium version. If they currently have 6 floors to play with, don't lock those. Instead add a 7th floor and have that unlockable for 0.99 for them (or something along those lines).
     
  5. MHille

    MHille Well-Known Member

    You are not describing a freemium model. If you are just thinking of several pay walls that's more like a trial/pay model.

    So keep your current customer happy by not making them pay again.

    Impressive app.

    Matthew
     
  6. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    Freemium is a business model that works by offering basic Web services, or a basic downloadable digital product, for free, while charging a premium for advanced or special features.​

    Its still a freemium model, just not the one we're used to complaining about on the app store ;)
     
  7. MHille

    MHille Well-Known Member

    That's funny. That's an increadably broad definition of freemium. I think I'll just stop using the word and try to find another one that describes a game the annoys me until I pay them more and more money.

    My point still stands though.

    Matthew
     
  8. Blackharon

    Blackharon Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2010
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    Game Designer for Ludia
    Canada
    Garbage-mium?

    Oh wait. That's mean.

    I agree with your point though.
     
  9. MHille

    MHille Well-Known Member

  10. DodgerBlue016

    DodgerBlue016 Well-Known Member

    Jun 25, 2011
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    I create awesome paper airplanes that I will sell
    Here
    If you go with #1, my advise would say to give all current owners of the game the iAPs (meaning they are automatically considered owners of the iAP) as not to anger them, and then switch to freemium style after that.

    I'm no dev, but I've seen practices like this happen sometimes and its always a better transition.
     
  11. Rubicon

    Rubicon Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2011
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    Lead Programmer, Chief Bottlewasher
    Isle of Wight, UK
    These games are not my thing, but judging by the pics it looks appealing enough and has had some polish applied, so it's not the app letting you down.

    That's the biggest hurdle faced by people posting about failed games. Usually games sell nothing because they're shite, frankly. The good news that this probably isn't your problem, which means it might be fixable.

    So, to get constructive:

    Firstly, fixing this is not about monetisation methods at all. If you get no eyes on the paid chart you have zero, here it is again in caps, ZERO, chance of monetising a "free" game. You just don't. What you don't see is the endless marketing that the Zyngas of this world have to do to get these megahit games we all hear about. It usually starts with a newsletter to their 3 million subscribers.

    Also, it's worth noting that if nobody noticed your launch, then it wasn't launched! The word is justified by the result, not the intent.

    But that's good. Put something new in and launch it again! Only this time, launch it.

    Put it on FAAD - you're not losing money if you have no sales and the exposure is amazing. Other services will offer to do it for free. Ignore those and pay to get it done properly. We had half a million people download GLWG in a single weekend and they've spent WAY more than the campaign costs on iap that were truly optional. Result being we got tons of vis and it even made a financial gain in the end. Everyones a winner.

    Get a facebook page going, post on similar pages about your own game.

    Keep on bombing the reviewers, give them something to talk about - "hey, we got 100,000 players in a week already" (avoid mentioning they were giveaways)

    Its too late to help now, but before doing FAAD etc add a link in your app to join a newsletter or something so you can advertise your next game to more people at launch.

    You did send the codes to the reviewers, right? It does my head in when I see devs listing them out in the forum. What's that meant to achieve?!

    Think about your market. Not as gamers but as people. Likely all women? Post on some womens websites. If you feel bad about that, have your wife/gf/sister do it. All fishermen?, join an online angling forum - buy a rod first.

    Having been a member here for a while, I was starting to get the hump when TA wouldn't pick up my game for months after release, which has hot on the forum at the time too. But after a while they did review it and gave it five stars. That would not have happened if I didn't regularly keep reminding them about it - they see hundreds of apps a day and could lose your mail simply because the doorbell rang and their eyes moved.

    Just keep banging away and it'll work out.
     
  12. Mobula

    Mobula Member

    Jun 13, 2012
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    I'd recommend converting your Paid game to Freemium rather than releasing an additional Freemium app to coexist with the Paid one (like how Words/Scramble with Friends or Draw Something does).

    Like other people said, you should supply some starter pack or something for those customers that have already paid as well. Also, don't forget to keep updating your game with better features and more content if you want the player-base to grow.
     
  13. mapacible

    mapacible Member

    Feb 25, 2012
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    thanks for the insight everyone!

    well, all features of the game are available aside from the additional 3 floors that would be used as my revenue source. the player could still finish the entire game with just 3 floors if they wish to do so. it will be harder but it's still doable if they really want to play it free.

    yeah, i did give out promo codes for reviewers in my emails but of the 15-20 i sent out, there were only 3 instances where it was used based on my itunesconnect sales list. it does seem like some reviewers do not use promo codes because i sent one for appadvice but they did not use it on their review.

    i'll try re-sending requests to reviewers as what rubicon suggested. i did not do it before because i thought it would be considered spamming and dont want to get put on a blacklist or something.

    so far i'm leaning on upgrading the existing game to freemium. might have to check out if i can launch the change on FAAD. how much do they cost nowadays?
     

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