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Old 01-03-2012, 04:52 PM
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IntrinsicGames IntrinsicGames is offline
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Default Why is Unlocking the Full Game via IAP Frowned Upon?

I've been curious about why players seem to dislike the idea of Free + IAP to unlock a full game, and was hoping that fellow developers and players might have some insight.

As a long time App Store user, I figured that the introduction of IAP would reduce the number of Free/Lite editions, since the user can just pay from inside the app and continue playing. Don't need to worry about restarting a campaign or replaying levels either, which I've always found annoying since I want to progress through the game, not replay parts of it just to get back to where I was.

However, based on user reviews and comments at various places including TA regarding Gameloft's implementation of the Free + IAP system for its games like Starfront or WayForward trying it with Shantae and then releasing a straight paid one, it seems that this isn't very popular. Is it a particular facet that wasn't handled correctly? Is there a way for the Free + IAP unlock model to work that doesn't upset people?
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:48 PM
HTWGames HTWGames is offline
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We had the same issues... our IAP unlocked the rest of the levels in our puzzle game Kunundrum http://goo.gl/kZTr8 and basically we got a ton of backlash based on the fact that people thought the whole game should be free and that $2 was WAY too much money based on the free portion of the game.

I think there is a psychological opinion first on IAP. People think, oh the dev is trying to dupe me into paying more than I have to...when actually the Dev is saying look, I spent months on this, if I ask you for a dollar for the rest of the game, would you like to unlock it?

Secondly, IAP is seen as icing on a cake right? A new shirt or indicators on a motorbike. It's seen as utility and accessory to software. But what people again don't seem to understand is that the software that is FREE still costs money to make. And the recoup is in the IAP.

People yelled at us for not being FREE enough and saying the rest of the game they hadn't unlocked for 2 dollars, nor played, was worth the money. So we went back to a lite version, put 150 levels, and dropped it down to a dollar. It's making more sales, and there are less grievances now, but it's not the format we wanted to go with. It's also not the best format in order to make impulse sales based around the entertainment in the moment.

Call it slimy or underhanded...but I think if you let someone who walks into a restaurant eat a piece of steak before they bought it, I'm sure they would think WOW that's delicious! And for how much? Sure man... I get the taste of what is coming to me, I'll be more than sure to pay for the rest with 0 buyers remorse.

It's purely psychological... honestly, most things cost a dollar on iTunes. What's the big stink? It's a dollar? It's something they probably lose in change on a daily basis. But when it comes down to the mentality of a consumer, you bet YOUR buck that they will threaten your life to protect their single, solitary dollar...for the hours of entertainment you are about to give them.

Paper money is causing that to be a problem... the physical tactile grasp on their money is a psychological vice, rather than say adding cheese to a hamburger at a restaurant, or buying a pop/soda at a bar and paying nearly 3 bucks for it. Even though they can get that same pop for like 15 cents in a case. They will STILL buy it because they need it at that moment.

That's why IAP is tough to sell... you have to let them have a satisfying taste and then say, if you like this...perhaps you'll make a small donation.


Then they'll rip your head off. Being a dev is masochistic isn't it? hahaha
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:22 PM
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BravadoWaffle BravadoWaffle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntrinsicGames View Post
However, based on user reviews and comments at various places including TA regarding Gameloft's implementation of the Free + IAP system for its games like Starfront or WayForward trying it with Shantae and then releasing a straight paid one, it seems that this isn't very popular. Is it a particular facet that wasn't handled correctly? Is there a way for the Free + IAP unlock model to work that doesn't upset people?
I'm curious what comments you are referring to when it comes to Shantae. I haven't noticed any negative comments with their IAP version. I do notice a marked difference in the number of reviews of the free version when compared to the paid version of Shantae... it seems like the free version was much more popular and likely made more money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HTWGames View Post
People yelled at us for not being FREE enough and saying the rest of the game they hadn't unlocked for 2 dollars, nor played, was worth the money. So we went back to a lite version, put 150 levels, and dropped it down to a dollar. It's making more sales, and there are less grievances now, but it's not the format we wanted to go with. It's also not the best format in order to make impulse sales based around the entertainment in the moment.
Interesting, so you are saying you are making more money with your paid version than you did with your Free+IAP version? That's very interesting...

We are releasing RoboHero free with a $1.99 IAP to unlock the whole game. So give me about a month and I'll have something useful to add to this thread. I know it's controversial, but the ones I've interviewed who have gone this route have been very positive about the results.
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:37 PM
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IntrinsicGames IntrinsicGames is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BravadoWaffle View Post
I'm curious what comments you are referring to when it comes to Shantae. I haven't noticed any negative comments with their IAP version. I do notice a marked difference in the number of reviews of the free version when compared to the paid version of Shantae... it seems like the free version was much more popular and likely made more money.
Some quotes from the TouchArcade thread - not to say that one made more money than the other, but just on the slightly negative comments regarding it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalcasket View Post
Oh man...I don't know how to feel about that. Any idea if a standalone full version is coming out? :/
Quote:
Originally Posted by Echoseven View Post
See, that's what I get for not getting the time to read the description. >.<

Anyways, picked it up already. Will play after I'm done with the releases.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_neo View Post
Well, I know now to not buy any iAP games from WayForward and I'll make sure to wait for 99c sales. Seriously disappointed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by caanerud View Post
Ya, Wayforward really botched their first app store attempt (with regard to PR). IAP not working the first night, border around the gameplay area, 99 cent sale soon after launch, and now relaunching the 'full' game.

Hope they do better next time, if there is a next time.
Here's the thread: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showth...111520&page=17

I'm still reading through it, but there's quite a number of pages in there
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:46 PM
V Kuolema V Kuolema is offline
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I hate it because it's a crappy system.

For example, I bought Arma II: Firing Range. It's a Free +1.99 to unlock the whole game. And having done so, I'm reminded why I hate it so much.

If I buy a full game, I can easily go and re-download it on my iPod 4th Gen or my 3GS via the in-phone App Store Purchased> Not on this iPhone/iPod. But with this crappy Free+IAP, I'm always unsure as to whether if I click "Buy full game" on my iPod if I'm going to be charged AGAIN for the game I just paid 2$ for on my 3GS. I've been burned before with this IAP stuff, so I always avoid it whenever possible.

IMO, I'm MUCH happier with a Lite + Paid version than a FREE+IAP version.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:47 PM
Echoseven Echoseven is offline
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Note: I am a player with no development experience, so this is largely a reflection of my view, and possibly a few expressed in the forums.

The biggest issue with ANY lite version you provide - whether it's separated or built into the app as a full game unlock is to give the user the right amount of a taster before they can decide whether they want to pay a bit more or not.
Personally I (and I imagine many others too) prefer a lite version which has levels not included in the full version - a great example of this is Trainyard, a game I downloaded both versions of just for the levels.


But the biggest criticism leveled at free+unlock systems is that if a game gets broken/removed/etc from the Store, the user will not be able to access the paid part of the game if they re-sync it from iTunes. (as far as I know, this is false)



EDIT:
That quote from me that you have is because I thought the full game was free as part of a release promotion, because in the rush of posting new release threads I did not notice that it was Free+unlock. Nothing negative about the system!
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:49 PM
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IntrinsicGames IntrinsicGames is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Echoseven View Post
Note: I am a player with no development experience, so this is largely a reflection of my view, and possibly a few expressed in the forums.
Oh yea, definitely looking for feedback from users as well
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:53 PM
HTWGames HTWGames is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BravadoWaffle View Post
I'm curious what comments you are referring to when it comes to Shantae. I haven't noticed any negative comments with their IAP version. I do notice a marked difference in the number of reviews of the free version when compared to the paid version of Shantae... it seems like the free version was much more popular and likely made more money.



Interesting, so you are saying you are making more money with your paid version than you did with your Free+IAP version? That's very interesting...

We are releasing RoboHero free with a $1.99 IAP to unlock the whole game. So give me about a month and I'll have something useful to add to this thread. I know it's controversial, but the ones I've interviewed who have gone this route have been very positive about the results.

Well for the way things work, yes we are definitely making more people happy with the full paid version... even to the point where Apple wouldn't release our Lite version, and didn't for over 2 weeks, and people were still buying our game. Strange isn't it?

Also what you want to look at and make sure you do with this IAP for the rest of the game paradigm, is make sure that whatever you are offering to the person is a defined and proper taste of what they can expect in the game. People were upset with us because they felt the first 20 levels were incredibly easy, even though they were more or less tutorial type levels. We had a couple tougher ones in there, but nothing serious. Well we learned the hard way... people wouldn't go near the IAP because they felt the rest of the game would be just as easy. Apparently no one has ever played a video game before where levels increase in difficulty right? How mindless do they think we are? Well... never underestimate haha So we put a mix in to the lite version of Kunundrum and then put out the paid version for only a dollar. Of course our reviews were way nicer after that... and they should be, we worked our butts off and put a LARGE chunk of entertainment into a single dollar.

The entitlement is absolutely disgusting really. But what can you expect? Work within those constraints... make sure your IAP makes sense, rather than just a device to avoid a Lite version. That's all I can really offer on that.
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2012, 06:55 PM
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BravadoWaffle BravadoWaffle is offline
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Ah, I see what you mean. There's a lot of lessons there for what not to do if you are going the Free+IAP route!

Do: Make it clear in description what is free and what is unlockable
Do: Double check that your IAP works before release
Do: Make sure your free sample is a good example of what to expect in the rest of the game
Do Not: Run a .99 sale too soon after release
Do Not: Underestimate the stupidity of the user

Keep in mind, this is also the vocal minority and the TA forums are not a good metric to judge how well a game is received at all.

To give you an example:

One of the game developers I interviewed released a game free with a $1.99 IAP. It is currently rated at 3 stars on the app store. The app was featured in N&N and received over 1 million downloads on its first week. It experienced a conversion rate of about 2%. That means it brought in about $20k on it's first week. Not too bad in my opinion.

Hopefully I'll have some metrics to share soon on how our release does and any lessons we learn from it.

Last edited by BravadoWaffle; 01-03-2012 at 06:59 PM..
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  #10  
Old 01-03-2012, 07:01 PM
Echoseven Echoseven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HTWGames View Post
Well we learned the hard way... people wouldn't go near the IAP because they felt the rest of the game would be just as easy. Apparently no one has ever played a video game before where levels increase in difficulty right? How mindless do they think we are?
This is essentially why I think your Lite version didn't work - because it wasn't a proper (use that word loosely) taster.

Some games just don't suit a lite version where you have access to the first few levels - exactly because they start off pretty easy with a gradual increase. Especially puzzle games.
This is exactly what Trainyard has nailed - if I only had access to the first two 'cities' and then was asked to unlock the rest of the game I wouldn't do it either, because the advanced mechanics were never explained in the early levels.

The lite version showed off exactly what the advanced gameplay was like and since I have purchased the game several times over.


Sorry for sidetracking the thread a little, I didn't actually mean to go into a discussion about lite versions in general...

Edit:
I think it's not that off-topic though, because if you make a good enough taster people won't care how the game is unlocked.
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