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Arcade Hockey Free coming soon: We need your opinion!

View Poll Results: How should we deal with the freemium situation for existing paid apps?
Release free version with paid upgrade (99 cents at launch) over the older version as "update" 1 25.00%
Release free version as separate app (with inconvenience of two OpenFeint leaderboards) 3 75.00%
Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll
11-10-2009, 06:00 PM
#1
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 10
Arcade Hockey Free coming soon: We need your opinion!

We're about to submit a free version of Arcade Hockey with in-app purchase for users to upgrade to a paid version within the app itself. The process has involved some hard choices, and we'd like to put these out on the forums before making a final decision.

We've been banging our heads against the wall with some last-minute realizations on the limitations of this system which are going to make the launch of the new free version of Arcade Hockey very, very complicated for us.

For some background, see John Gruber's post on Daring Fireball about the new in-app purchase system:
As of 10 minutes ago, developers can now make “lite” apps that are free which let you pay to upgrade to a full version from within the app itself.
(from http://daringfireball.net/linked/200...-for-demo-apps)

Other articles on the subject have mentioned that this leaves developers of existing paid apps who want to move to a freemium model out in the cold, but the situation is worse than we thought.

At the moment we can choose to either update on top of the old app, effectively forcing an "upgrade" charge on previous paid users, or we can publish a new free app, with all of the hassles associated with maintaining two app IDs.

This affects us in particular as OpenFeint, which we integrated in this new version, ties the App ID (and consequently the push certificates tied to it) to its leaderboards, challenges etc. In other words, users of the paid app will not be able to trade challenges with or compete on the same leaderboards as users of the free app, whether or not the latter has upgraded to the full version. The fact that we're planning on offering prizes to the leaders on OpenFeint makes this even more of a logistical PITA.

We've poured through the solutions proposed on the Developer forums here:

https://devforums.apple.com/thread/31117

Unfortunately no one seems to have reached a conclusion as to how to make this work without splitting the apps. No one at Apple has shed light on this situation as of yet, but we've thought of a couple of workarounds:

1. Offer a free in-app purchase to existing users, identifying the previous version by checking for an old preference key or some other sign that they previously installed the paid version. This, however, will not work if the user installs the free version on a device which did not have the previous version already installed.

2. Release an interim update to the paid version which pulls a coupon code off of our site and instructs the user to use it on the next update to redeem their "free upgrade". We then check it against the server in the free version and use this to trigger a different (free) in-app purchase. This would be simple if we had released the original paid version with the logic already implemented, but since we didn't we have to count on users installing the updated paid version *before* we launch the free version later. Any users who update a new iPhone with the free version, or install the free version on top of the original version without doing the interim update, will still be forced into a paid upgrade.

ngmoco dealt with this by offering the first chapter of Rolando free with in-app purchases for other chapters, but then they control plus+ and I'm sure they've worked their own solution around the issues which affect us with OpenFeint, so in our humble opinion they're the exception rather than the rule at least as far as freemium games which use social gaming platforms.

Our user base for the current paid version is a bit less than 500, so we're not talking about thousands of paying customers being forced to pay for an upgrade, but we're unsure about doing something that would upset even such a small slice of the market.

So we'd like to ask: what do you think? Is it worth positioning this as a free trial/paid upgrade for the 500-odd current paid users, since we're adding new functions (OpenFeint, time match) at the same time we're taking away others (e.g. difficulty options), or would be wiser for us to split this into two apps (and consequently two OpenFeint accounts)? We want to hear your opinion.

However our situation turns out, we haven't seen anyone raise a call to arms yet to get this situation addressed by Apple, probably because so few apps have been published with it. We think that it's high time that this situation was fixed.
11-10-2009, 06:13 PM
#2
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,965
Quote:
Originally Posted by brainjuice View Post
This affects us in particular as OpenFeint, which we integrated in this new version, ties the App ID (and consequently the push certificates tied to it) to its leaderboards, challenges etc. In other words, users of the paid app will not be able to trade challenges with or compete on the same leaderboards as users of the free app, whether or not the latter has upgraded to the full version. The fact that we're planning on offering prizes to the leaders on OpenFeint makes this even more of a logistical PITA.
It seems to me that at least one game had trial/full versions that shared the same achievements - lemme go check Zincous' list and see if I can figure that out...

This is kinda what ngmoco has run into with Plus+ - the free versions of games are getting the network plugin and updates faster than the paid versions.

One other option - The Quest allows you to enable expansions in the main game by having the expansions downloaded. You can then delete the expansions off of your device - all game data is in the main game. You might be able to get the free version to do this.

Also also: since the iDrop Dead update got rejected by Apple, they had to make iDrop Dead Flower Edition - they let all the regulars know about it early, made the new release free for a day so that people could get it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!

Last edited by drelbs; 11-10-2009 at 06:21 PM.
11-10-2009, 06:18 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,965
Looks like Sub Hunt and iGuerilla 2 were reported as the lite and the full having the same OF profile.

You might want to contact OF and/or the devs of those titles to see what they did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
Squids!?

Worst idea ever!

Last edited by drelbs; 11-10-2009 at 06:22 PM.
11-10-2009, 06:24 PM
#4
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by drelbs View Post
Looks like Sub Hunt and iGuerilla 2 were reported as the lite and the full having the same OF profile.

You might want to contact OF and/or the devs of those titles to see what they did.
Do either of those apps use push notifications for challenges? This is the issue we really can't get around for the moment, as the push certificates are tied to App IDs, and Apple won't let you upload a binary for a new app with a previously used App ID.

We have contacted OpenFeint (who BTW have been amazingly attentive and quick to respond) and they are working to address this ASAP.