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lite version removal experiment

10-18-2009, 04:07 PM
#1
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,005
lite version removal experiment

I recently (temporarily) pulled the lite version of Card Shark Solitaire from the App Store due to a subtle bug with a new random number generator. The full version doesn't have this issue and remains for sale.

Both the free and full versions of Card Shark have been on the first page of Card games in the App Store for quite some time. I've always wondered if the upsell benefits from having a lite version more than offset those users that like the lite version enough that they have no compelling reason to grab the full version.

The bottom line is that I have no idea if the (temporary) lack of a lite version will help or harm overall sales.

Independent from sales is the possible effect on user ratings. You'd think that having a lite version would help filter out most or all bad ratings, since the ability to "try before you buy" would help ensure that people that don't like an app can safely avoid buying it. However, the "rate on delete" feature of the AppStore also means that a lite version tends to get positive ratings from users that are deleting it as they upgrade - users that may not bother rating the full version.

It's too early to see the full effect, but if folk are interested I'll share findings here when I get more data.
10-18-2009, 04:47 PM
#2
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 362
Send a message via Skype™ to micah
I recently pulled the lite version of Skeleton Key because it looked like it was hurting sales. For a solid week or so I was making 20 full downloads and about 10 lite downloads. I pulled it for two days, to experiment, and I ended up getting 30 full downloads for a couple days, so I just pulled the lite version altogether.

I think most people who were interested in my game would likely buy it, but a couple of those decided to get the lite version instead and never ended up buying it. Taking away the lite version made it so almost everyone interested decided to buy it, I think.

Of course, shortly thereafter sales dropped a bunch, and now they're hovering around 3 a day... but I think in the future I'll think more carefully about whether or not to make a lite version. I think it's only appropriate to specific types of games.

--=] Insurgent Games website | twitter [=-
Cryptose (TA) - Skeleton Key (TA) - Skeleton Key HD (TA link) - Aeropack (TA)

10-18-2009, 04:51 PM
#3
Thanks for your test!

Stroffolino, I am very interested in what the end result of pulling your lite version will have on the sales of your full version of Card Shark Solitaire!
Please post the results. I am actually thinking of pulling Str8ts Lite as well!
10-18-2009, 04:59 PM
#4
Micah,

Good thing I have got your attention! Please Please Please....... get rid of the forest setting on Skeleton Key! You have a great game that belongs under ground. Turn the game theme into a pirate game and lets start moving around in tunnels, instead of looking for treasure chests in trees. Please do it !!!! Start today! Did I mention obstacles (traps) that could be cleverly placed in the tunnels!
10-18-2009, 05:52 PM
#5
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 362
Send a message via Skype™ to micah
Quote:
Originally Posted by Syndicated Puzzles View Post
Micah,

Good thing I have got your attention! Please Please Please....... get rid of the forest setting on Skeleton Key! You have a great game that belongs under ground. Turn the game theme into a pirate game and lets start moving around in tunnels, instead of looking for treasure chests in trees. Please do it !!!! Start today! Did I mention obstacles (traps) that could be cleverly placed in the tunnels!
Heh thanks! Well I'm waiting for Apple to approve my latest update right now that does just that, sort of. I don't get rid of the forest theme, just make it about 25% of the game instead of all of it. You also play in the caves, on the beach, and on a pirate ship.


Youtube link | Pop Up


I haven't added any new objects or gameplay mechanics for this update, but I definitely might. I'm also planning on adding social networking -- either Agon or OpenFeint (the debate rages on).

--=] Insurgent Games website | twitter [=-
Cryptose (TA) - Skeleton Key (TA) - Skeleton Key HD (TA link) - Aeropack (TA)
10-19-2009, 01:33 AM
#6
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 546
I'm curious to hear the results. I know from the way I purchase games, usually if there is no Lite version and the game is only $0.99, I'll just buy it outright. A few times, buying the Lite version has turned me off from the game altogether, which I might have bought if there wasn't one. Obviously based on people's experience with Lite versions, they certain help; however, at lower price points I think they may not be as helpful (besides additional advertising from free chart ranking)
10-21-2009, 09:47 AM
#7
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,005
It's been less than a week, but so far, after temporarily removing the lite version of Card Shark, downloads for the pay version have increased by over 20%. On the category ranking chards, Card Shark is now neck and neck with Cool Moon's single game solitaire games that don't have lite versions.

Since the lite was removed, while Card Shark continues to primarily garner 5 star ratings, it's also attracted a handful of anonymous 1 star reviews. I've received no negative feedback via email nor in the US app store, so it's hard to know what to make of this.
10-21-2009, 01:01 PM
#8
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: UK / Toronto
Posts: 602
I believe it does benefit certain games to not offer a lite version, but not all.

I think if it's a progressive game genre – a platform game or FPS with advancing levels, which continually varies the kinds of challenge to the player as well as adding new gameplay features - a demo can be beneficial in giving the player "enough" without too much.

But for a procedural type of game, like most puzzle games, or a game like iShoot, I think sometimes a lite version gives away too much of the game and doesn't offer enough incentive to buy the full version.

As an example, I recently downloaded the Free version of Smiles – it's a really fun little game, but I don't feel enough reason to buy the full version. Even though the free version only gives me two gameplay styles from the full game, I can play those gameplay styles over and over. I don't really know what the full version offers, but I don't think I care… I can play these two gameplay styles infinitely, as far as I'm aware these two gameplay styles are the full version and I'm quite happy with it.

Imagine if the original Tetris had released with a lite version which included the core gameplay. Tetris was all about its core gameplay, not any of its additional game styles. I think if Tetris released today on the App store alongside a lite version, the number of lite players would dwarf the number of paying players, because they'd be happy.

However, to remove a lite version I think is most beneficial to those apps that have a couple of specific characteristics…
– It needs to look good in screenshots
– It needs to be cheap. Usually I'm against down-pricing, but if you're already priced at 0.99 - 1.99, and you have a procedural game type, you may as well experiment removing the lite version.

Overall I think the biggest problem is Apple won't allow time-limits in lite apps – I think that would be the best solution to demo puzzle games but without giving the user too much.

Last edited by EssentialParadox; 10-21-2009 at 01:07 PM.
10-21-2009, 01:47 PM
#9
What is the turn around time to reinstate a Lite version?

So if you remove the Lite version, can you just select to reinstate it at any point? Does Apple have to re-aprove? I wouldn't think so since there was no update to it? What is the turn around time after you choose to reinstate the Lite version?

I might experiment w/ removing Rummage Lite. I feel the Lite does give away too much, even though its only 3 puzzles. It's all the core gameplay. Looking at the OpenFeint leaderboards from the full version, the is a decent decrease in the number of scores posted after the first half dozen puzzles. I have friends that just play the Lite version over and over.
10-21-2009, 03:19 PM
#10
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Munich
Posts: 384
Send a message via Skype™ to rdklein
It did this also some time agon, yes you can just go to edit and reselect all countries then its online again.

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