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Rewarding Initial Customers (or, 'Special Edition apps')

12-15-2009, 03:08 AM
#1
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: UK / Toronto
Posts: 602
Rewarding Initial Customers (or, 'Special Edition apps')

I've been toying with the idea of selling a premium version of a game in the App Store; offer some bonus content (maybe behind the scenes content, or in-game extras…) to fans who would be happy to pay a couple of dollars extra.

This could be done via an in-app purchase, but I'm wondering if it would also be possible to sell a premium edition of the app itself.

Now no developer wants to dilute potential chart positions by selling two versions of the same game, but I've come up with an idea that might be possible, and come with other benefits too…

The idea is you launch the game as the 'Limited Edition' version, selling it at a premium price - let's say $6.99 - and tell customers that this special version only lasts a week, and after that the price is reduced to $4.99 and the special content removed from the app.
Pros
- All sales stay related to the same app.
- Those gamers who wait for price cuts will know when the price cut is going to happen.
- Developer can earn a little extra from dedicated fans and those App Store customers who are happy to pay upwards of $9.99 for an app.
- There will be customers lining up to purchase it on the publicized price-reduction day, hopefully giving a bump into the charts.

Cons
- Is it possible to keep the app update from removing the premium content for the Limited edition owners?
- Is there any elegant way to tell owners not to upgrade or they will lose the special edition content? Or should the special content just expire after a week and be labeled as such?
- Is it damaging to the initial launch (and potential chart jump) to have the launch staggered as such, or would the extra profits from the premium edition outweigh this?

Addendum: Posted poll to gauge customer interest or disinterest in the idea.

Last edited by EssentialParadox; 12-15-2009 at 10:58 AM. Reason: added addendum
12-15-2009, 03:17 AM
#2
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,505
Quote:
- Is it possible to keep the app update from removing the premium content for the Limited edition owners?
Dont think that would be possible without having separate apps for your game.

And you cant ask the premium buyers to not update the app. What if you find out a serious flaw with the app after it`s release in iTunes? In that case the early adopters will have to update and will lose the premium content.


DLC seems to be the best option here. Not sure why do you feel the need for a different solution.

12-15-2009, 03:23 AM
#3
Yes, it is possible to keep the update from removing the Premium content. Flickitty actually does this with the Elite Hats, and it isn't difficult to do.

When the game is downloaded and played for the first time, a new save file is created. That save file is stamped with the version number, and the save file retains that version number regardless of the updates. This gives me info on when the game was first purchased/played, and then I can determine which content to include.

However, I should mention that the content still exists in all versions, even if the player cannot access it. So you can't remove the content from the update- that will remove the content from the Premium versions too.

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone

Last edited by Flickitty; 12-15-2009 at 03:25 AM.
12-15-2009, 03:34 AM
#4
I've decided to add to this.

It is possible to make a copy of the Premium Content, and save it where the save files normally go (Documents). Those files aren't deleted or wiped between updates.

A ragdoll physics platformer:Flickitty
The artist: randall schleufer
Twitter: @FlickittyiPhone
12-15-2009, 04:02 AM
#5
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 515
another alternative is to have the game try to load the alternative content from the web on start up

then you can remove the additional content from the web after the 2 week period is up, so new purchasers can't download it.

This would limit the additional content to people who have online connections, which would potentially cut out some iPod Touch users.

Let us know how it works out if you do try something like this.
12-15-2009, 08:38 AM
#6
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: UK / Toronto
Posts: 602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flickitty View Post
Yes, it is possible to keep the update from removing the Premium content. Flickitty actually does this with the Elite Hats, and it isn't difficult to do.

When the game is downloaded and played for the first time, a new save file is created. That save file is stamped with the version number, and the save file retains that version number regardless of the updates. This gives me info on when the game was first purchased/played, and then I can determine which content to include.

However, I should mention that the content still exists in all versions, even if the player cannot access it. So you can't remove the content from the update- that will remove the content from the Premium versions too.
Ah very clever! Thank you.

Would it really be possible to store the special content in the 'Documents' folder? So it could theoretically be removed following the update without affecting the 'Limited edition' owners, while also allowing to update the game for any bug fixes.
12-15-2009, 08:51 AM
#7
The only problem with these methods is if the user deletes the 'Premium' app then re-downloads it they will be stuck with the normal version. Unless you did some online tracking, say having devices who unlocked the Premium version register their UID with a server. That would require users to have an internet connection and you to run a server though.
12-15-2009, 08:51 AM
#8
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: the 56th realm of existence
Posts: 5,948
so you wanna do wat gravity sling did?

Beta tester of 54 games
Quote:
Originally Posted by crex View Post
Thats a nice lookin gun.
12-15-2009, 10:59 AM
#9
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: UK / Toronto
Posts: 602
Addendum: Posted poll to gauge customer interest or disinterest in the idea.
12-15-2009, 11:49 AM
#10
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 317
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclardy View Post
The only problem with these methods is if the user deletes the 'Premium' app then re-downloads it they will be stuck with the normal version. Unless you did some online tracking, say having devices who unlocked the Premium version register their UID with a server. That would require users to have an internet connection and you to run a server though.
I have been thinking about doing something similar to this in an upcoming app and I think the easiest thing to do about that is to somehow make it clear that they should back up their phone with iTunes, because that backup also includes all apps's documents directories, which would then backup the save file that determines wether the premium features are included or not.

Then if they did have to redownload the latest version at least they could restore the backup and get the premium content back.