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Free

11-09-2010, 02:27 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,799
Free

Excuse me if this has been covered previously. I am just wondering if any developers would mind sharing their experiences regarding free for x amount of time style promotions.


Does it noticeably increase exposure to your product?

Is their noticeable spillover to other apps released under your name?

Are shorter promotions more successful than longer or vice versa?

Did you find any results surprising or unexpected?

Ultimately, are you pleased with the results and would you recommend this promotional tactic to others?

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11-09-2010, 03:46 PM
#2
We have just gone free with N.Y.Zombies for the second time in its 6-7 month life. Check this out and expand the dates to as early as possible to see the exact effect the free campaigns had in regards to our chart position.

http://www.appannie.com/n-y-zombies/...ry/#view=ranks

In a nutshell, they work... or they can work... and really only for a short period of time (currently we're at about 2 weeks after the free campaign and we're still at about 3-5x our pre campaign revenue -- for the first week we were making as much as 10-15x). The main thing I think is they will work if you are able to reach a very high rank (10+ top free games). The whole point of a free campaign is to get MASSIVE amounts of people playing your game to stimulate the general awareness of your app. If you are unable to get that high during a free campaign, its likely not going to have a huge impact.

Of course, the more downloads you have, the more of an impact it will have once you switch back to paid. And we're talking massive amounts of downloads (at least 500,000, but a 1,000,000 is close to what you want to achieve during a free campaign). We actually have tons of random tweets across the world about NYZ now, lots of blogging about it, etc. The awareness has definitely increased.

As for length of the free campaign, I would play it by ear. If you're not getting way up the charts by your 2nd day or so (and it looks like you're not going to climb the charts anymore), I would put it back to paid immediately... If you are way up the charts however, I would advise milking it for about 7 days and getting as many downloads as possible. I think any longer then that and you start giving people the impression your game is simply a free game (and not actually a regular game doing a free promotion). You also want to make it paid while you're ahead so to speak... If at any time you see significant (10+ ranks) droppings, I'd put it back to paid immediately as well.

Anyway, thats just my opinions from our experiences and are by no means gospel. Ultimately would I recommend it? If your game is in the pits, then why not? Worst case scenario nothing happens, but at least you'll have more people playing your game. Best case scenario it impacts your paid sales, if even for a limited time. However if you are at all comfortable with where you are at, I might think twice at least before jumping into it.

Last edited by Foursaken_Media; 11-09-2010 at 03:49 PM.

11-09-2010, 04:16 PM
#3
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,799
Ah, very interesting. I really appreciate you taking the time to provide such a detailed response. That is exactly the kind of information I need to make some near future marketing decisions.

I would like to field another question to whomever it may apply:

Does it make sense to have a free for xT sale if your app already has a lite version in the store?

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11-09-2010, 05:09 PM
#4
np

Ours had a lite, but we removed it from sale as soon as we went free and left it removed after we went back to paid (and will probably put it back up in 2-3 weeks), just to make sure it wasn't "stealing" any of our sales when interest for the paid version was higher then usual after the free campaign. Unfortunately a lite is kind of one of those things you never know if it would've been better to keep it up or to remove it...
11-09-2010, 05:28 PM
#5
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
awesome info 4saken, as usual.. I might give you a PM on the matter shortly, with some particular questions.

in general, going free with your paid up is one of the most valuable tools at a developer's disposal, but bear in mind that simply "switching to free" doesn't necessarily ensure anything. Well, you will likely get some decent boost of downloads, but as 4saken mentioned, it needs to be a certain number to matter. We went free early in the summer and got pretty far up the charts (ok not FAR far, but we did chart!) We had no idea what we were doing, or what to expect, and after 2 days switched back to paid. despite a nice chunk of free downloads, our sales didn't really enjoy a noticeable spike, and a lot of news sources didn't even report the story until after we'd switched back to paid anyway.

I guess what I am saying is, leverage your expectations, play it by ear, treat the whole thing as a press-worthy event much as you would anything else (send out a PR at least), and defiitely don't get your hopes up that you're going to kill on the charts unless you do have something really special and really polished, and get a little lucky. But, hey ya never know!!!
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11-09-2010, 06:02 PM
#6
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 515
I had a game, "A Snake", which has been free for its entire release life.

I was lucky enough to have it featured on open feints free game of the day, back when they were starting it up, and before they started charging.

The feature took the downloads from around 1000 a day to 170 000 a day for a week or two. Now 6 months later it is getting around 700 downloads a day.

A snake has now had over 2 million downloads.

Sales of my other games got a pretty good temporary boost, I got 1 week where I sold a couple 100, but they quickly fell back down to 0 - 5 sales total a day.

My other games have been free before, but without good advertising (I just posted on the TA forums), they never picked up steam, and never took off.

The best I did on my own was get Gumdrops to #1 free game in Japan for a while, which totalled about 60 000 downloads worldwide.

I don't know if I would go for a revenue sharing deal in order to get advertising, but I definately wouldn't pay outright for it.

No doubt you can make more money if you get IAP/Ads sorted out, but if you are going to do that, get them going before you go free.

The benifits of going free happen in a very short timeframe, and you won't have time to respond with app updates before users have moved on to the next free trinket.

Also remember that you will probably lose a few stars in the rankings as lots of people download it and then complain after a 30 second try.
11-09-2010, 08:04 PM
#7
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
Back in March Ground Effect, at four monts old, was down to 20 or so sales per day. We were featured on Freeappaday. As a free app it got to number one racing almost everywhere, top free game in several territories, top ten in most and top free app in a few with just over 500,000 downloads.

The week after going back to paid ($3.99) had around 60 downloads per day, around a 3x improvement and it's best week since the end of the app store feature in november (including Christmas). It took a couple of montsh to get back down to 20 but I suspect if we hadn't gone free we'd have been way bellow that.

Freeappaday featured it again in August and we had almost another 500,000 downloads. We had to stay free for seven days this time to do it. Going back to paid (1.99) was less impressive, maybe a 1.5x boost.

Now, a year after release and still at $1.99, it's getting around 10 downloads a day. I'm not sure if that's the number of Downloads a game like Ground Effect gets from people searching or browsing the app store or if that's some sort of residual word of mouth from the few thousand people* who still have it installed.

* 'few thousand' is a complete guess, it must be at least that, who knows?, Just 5% would be 50,000 people. Whatever the number, I've been far to slow (thanks to other work commitments) in getting out an HD version (with ads in the revved standard version), adding DLC etc.

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11-09-2010, 08:28 PM
#8
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,799
Thanks, all of you, for sharing. It sounds as though you all saw benefits to varying degrees. I suppose this could be an effective strategy after all, should I play my cards right. Wonderful.

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 じしf_, )ノ
11-13-2010, 11:57 PM
#9
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,799
Oh, yet another one more question. Would I be better off to have the free promotion at launch or after the app has been out for a time? Does it matter?

 /l、
(゚、 。 7
 l、 ~ヽ
 じしf_, )ノ
11-15-2010, 07:34 AM
#10
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
Quote:
Originally Posted by starjimstar View Post
Oh, yet another one more question. Would I be better off to have the free promotion at launch or after the app has been out for a time? Does it matter?
There's always varying thought on this. I'd like to see more data from people who've released free and then switched to paid.

Overall, dev consensus seems to be thus - if you've done any kind of buildup marketing, you'll miss a certain amount of guaranteed sales (folks who would have wanted to buy your game either way) since they'll just grab it free at launch. I have no idea how many people jump on ANY app that launches at free.. anybody?
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