★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

Releasing free version first?

09-16-2009, 08:26 AM
#1
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 76
Releasing free version first?

Hey everyone! Long time reader on the forums (I don't post as often as I'd like . ) We've been looking over trends in the App Store, trying to think of ways to bring exposure and get a following. How do you feel about releasing a free version of a game first? It seemed to work for Paper Toss, and thats currently how the console games market operates with demoes. Obviously, you've have to market it well, and have the paid version follow rather quickly to keep the interest, but generally speaking we feel this could be a pretty cool way of releasing apps and gaining support for a brand. Any thoughts from both devs and users are welcome! Thanks, and happy hump day

Brandon L. Townes
President/Lead Designer @ Solid 7 Studios
Dev Blog
Follow Us on Twitter!
09-16-2009, 10:14 AM
#2
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,005
Some notes from my experience doing this with Card Shark Solitaire.

The free version of the game is, and remains rather popular. It's ad free, nag screen free, features large cards, smooth drag-drop, and 8 fully playable games, including Klondike Solitaire. To this day, I get a lot of positive feedback via email, with the user base skewing towards female.

At the urging of my brother, I made a deluxe version of the game with new games, a prettier splash screen and fireworks when you win. I pushed out an update to the free version at the same time, spinning the word "Lite" onscreen as a subtitle. The "Lite" teaser prompted much of the huge existing user base to check out the deluxe version, and a good number of them went ahead and upgraded.

A series of improvements to the deluxe version didn't have much effect on its sales. The number of supported games in 4.3 (now being reviewed by Apple) is up to 20, and includes things beyond solitaire, i.e. Draw Poker, Hearts, Crazy Eights, Rummy, and Blackjack.

It wasn't until I made another update to the lite version that sales for Card Shark Deluxe took off. One key change was done by accident. Card Shark Deluxe has a visual game picker, loosely resembling Apple's own app-picker screen. In Card Shark Lite 4.0, I introduced this game picker as part of the upgrade, and rather than blackening half the screen, I left the unsupported games there, but greyed them out. In retrospect, I was lucky to have Apple approve it - they've since rejected a 4.1 update to the lite version for "describing features that are only available in the full version."

In any event, now users of Card Shark Solitaire FREE get gently reminded of what games they are missing everytime they visit this screen, and this had increased the upsell rate dramatically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blt3d View Post
Hey everyone! Long time reader on the forums (I don't post as often as I'd like . ) We've been looking over trends in the App Store, trying to think of ways to bring exposure and get a following. How do you feel about releasing a free version of a game first? It seemed to work for Paper Toss, and thats currently how the console games market operates with demoes. Obviously, you've have to market it well, and have the paid version follow rather quickly to keep the interest, but generally speaking we feel this could be a pretty cool way of releasing apps and gaining support for a brand. Any thoughts from both devs and users are welcome! Thanks, and happy hump day
09-16-2009, 10:15 AM
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by blt3d View Post
Hey everyone! Long time reader on the forums (I don't post as often as I'd like . ) We've been looking over trends in the App Store, trying to think of ways to bring exposure and get a following. How do you feel about releasing a free version of a game first? It seemed to work for Paper Toss, and thats currently how the console games market operates with demoes. Obviously, you've have to market it well, and have the paid version follow rather quickly to keep the interest, but generally speaking we feel this could be a pretty cool way of releasing apps and gaining support for a brand. Any thoughts from both devs and users are welcome! Thanks, and happy hump day
Here's an interesting link

Marketing iphone games

"As for free “Lite” versions of iPhone games, Greenstone said flatly, “Don’t do it.” While these demos can help promote an App, he said in most cases it’s either a break-even or money-losing venture, and rarely works as intended. In his experience, a Lite version of one of Pangea’s games actually halted sales of the paid version, leading the company to pull the demo."
09-16-2009, 01:02 PM
#4
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynardo View Post
Here's an interesting link

Marketing iphone games

"As for free “Lite” versions of iPhone games, Greenstone said flatly, “Don’t do it.” While these demos can help promote an App, he said in most cases it’s either a break-even or money-losing venture, and rarely works as intended. In his experience, a Lite version of one of Pangea’s games actually halted sales of the paid version, leading the company to pull the demo."
Hmm good read! I think it depends on the app on whether or not a Lite version can work. And a bit of luck

Brandon L. Townes
President/Lead Designer @ Solid 7 Studios
Dev Blog
Follow Us on Twitter!