Fieldrunners 2 is getting in-app purchases, according to a blog post from the game’s developer, Subatomic Studios. Such a thing should not be notable in 2012, as in-app purchases have become the norm. But there’s two reasons why this is a story: one, Fieldrunners 2 launched without IAP at first at all, a rarity considering that the game had a virtual currency in place for buying in-game upgrades already. Second, the reason why they did it reveals something interesting about people’s expectations of App Store games.
This isn’t necessarily a case of Subatomic Studios not having made a lot of money so far, because according to its own numbers, the game has made over $1 million so far. That’s more than Jetpack Joyride made in its first few months, for comparison, though before it went free-to-play. Considering the long amount of time between entries of the Fieldrunners series and the game’s high production values, it’s likely that there would be a high cost to make the game, though the original Fieldrunners has had the benefit of being on many platforms to help bring in revenue over that time as well.
Fieldrunners 2 also had the benefit of launching at a “premium” app price on iOS: $2.99 for the iPhone version, and $7.99 for the iPad version, neither of which is universal. The iPad version doesn’t have the IAP yet; I reached out to Alec Shobin, marketing and PR manager at Subatomic, who explained that “It will probably come to the iPad version later. We wanted to launch it on one platform at time in order to work out any kinks, since this is pretty new to us.”
Now, there is an interesting reason given by Subatomic as to why the studio would go ahead and reverse course on IAP: people actually wanted it. The general trend among the ‘core’ gamer community is that in-app purchases are bad for consumers and potentially exploitative. If Subatomic is to be believed, however, there were people actually wanting the ability to buy more in-app currency. Shobin reasons that “they appreciate and almost expect that feature, especially in an iOS game.”
This kind of behavior has become standard procedure, and even premium games are conditioning players to expect in-app purchases, which is likely due to the oft-copied Infinity Blade series’ decision to include them. The difference is in that Fieldrunners 2 is doing something more akin to the original Infinity Blade, adding them in post-hoc, rather than integrating them as part of the initial product as with Infinity Blade 2.
But does Subatomic Studios feel like it may come off as feeling greedy due to adding IAP to a game that already came with a ‘premium’ price? “Yes, this is absolutely a concern,” said Shobin, “but there isn’t really much we can do about it. People asked for a way to buy coins with money. We’re running a business, so it would be foolish for us to turn them down when we can meet their needs without doing anything else to change a game that our existing community loves so much. If people want us to keep making games – if we want to keep making games that we love – we need to recoup our development costs AND earn enough to begin our next game(s).”
While there’s definitely a steady contingent of people complaining already about the change, the choice for Subatomic Studios seems easy in the context of whether they should listen to the people that want them to not have IAP, versus those that want them to shut up and take their money. It just shows how much consumable IAP has become a part of the iOS gaming market that now even the feature’s exclusion is cause for complaint from users. It’s a problem that developers want to have – the demand from people to give the developers more money to keep playing their game.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on August 28th, 2012 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
The venerable (and fun!) board game translation, Catan, gets a new expansion, available for $X.XX as an in-app purchase.
The Cities and Knights expansion introduces various new gameplay mechanics that add even more variety to Catan. Invest new trade goods in city improvements to build one of the three metropolises of Catan – but beware of the barbarians attracted by Catan’s new wealth! You’ll need your best knights to fend them off! C&K contains a short campaign and 7 challenging maps.
zuuka Comics have teamed up with Don Bluth Studios to bring the Dragon’s Lair comic book series to iOS. Originally published in its entirety in 2006, this comic series follows the adventures of the game’s protagonist, Dirk the Daring, as he tries to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from the dragon Singe. Apparently he didn’t appreciate Dirk invading his lair last time.
This comic tries to bring all the humor of the game in a format that doesn’t involve trying to move a joystick in the right direction, in the hopes that was the correct one. The series includes the issue #1 cover art and a bonus story drawn by Don Bluth himself, with the rest of the art drawn by Fabio Laguna, and issues written by Andy Mangels, Ryan Foley, and Jimmy PS Hayes. The app is universal and free to download, with the first issue for free. Each of the following 5 issues are available as in-app purchases for $1.99 each.
Disney’s physiscs puzzler Where’s My Water has gotten a new update that adapts the familiar mechanics in new ways with the new Cranky’s Story levels. The goal of these levels is to help out Cranky, the alligator who tries to thwart protagonist Swampy in the main mode. Now, he’s hungry, and being an alligator, he is content to eat things like safes. However, he is not content to eat them when they’re covered in moss. So, the player must get the moss-killing purple water to Cranky’s food so he can eat it.
The mechanics are still the same – use a finger to cut through the dirt and navigate the fluids through the level. It’s just that now the purple water is the one that needs to get to the goal point, and this changes the dynamic of the game. Suddenly, the water becomes the substance that needs to stay away from the rubber ducks lest they are made to disintegrate upon contact with a non-grimy surface. Of course, the purple water still reacts with the other fluids in the same way, but the levels are designed to take advantage of the mixed-up dynamics.
Also in the app are the new Cranky’s Challenges which are difficult new challenges that require Swampy’s levels to be played in different ways, like trying to collect three of the cranky ducks with purple water while still filling Swampy’s tub with blue water, or trying to get rid of all the blue water in a level without even a single drop reaching Swampy.
5 of these levels and 3 of the challenges are available for free; the rest are locked away as a $0.99 IAP, containing 50 regular levels and 16 challenge levels in total. The game will still receive free Swampy updates, and possibly even more Cranky levels in the future. This update is available now for iOS.
When Katamari Amore released, it came with the promise that more content would be added to the game beyond its intital level pack. I am proud to report that Namco are not liars, as a new level pack will be made available on Thursday, October 27th. The Time Trip pack features levels that send the Prince throughout history to collect thing for the ever-demanding King of All Cosmos. Six new levels are playable in Time Trial, Story, Exact Size Challenge, and Eternal modes. The pack will be available for $3.99, identical to the first pack, with one level’s Time Trial mode unlocked for free. As well, this pack will also feature a bonus mode based on a Namco game, and instead of another Pac-Man level – this time a Tekken-themed level is available. It’s something of an unexpected choice; what could be next? Soul Calibur? Mappy? Tower of Druaga? Toy Pop? The long-lost Pac-Man 2 game for 16-bit consoles? A Splatterhouse level? I don’t think I would even want to see that.
The newest photo sharing service has hit iOS, Photogram. This app isn’t meant to just share single photos with some filter added to them that gets blasted out to social media services; Photogram tries to do something a bit more personal. Users pick from 1-4 photos either taken with the camera inside the app or from their Camera Roll, add an optional message to send along with the photos, add a theme, and send it out to their friends, family, or whoever they want to receive the photos. The limit of 4 photos is in order to keep Photogram emails from being obnoxious, as the Photogram FAQ states: “Nobody wants to plow through dozens and dozens of photos.”
Photogram allows for users to share photos with their friends via email, Facebook, and even Twitter. It is also possible to create specific user groups so photos can be regularly sent to common recipients. So, it’s easy to create a group for family so they can share their newest photos to them, or for a certain circle of friends to get photos relevant to just them. Users can add designs to their photos with a variety of available themes, created by independent artists. These include basic themes for just simple colors to sports-related themes to even one entitled “Robot Friend.” These themes are available via in-app purchase, with part of the revenue going directly to the artists. For the first week of release, users will get 30 themes for free. Artists interested in submitting their own themes for use in Photogram can get in touch with them through the email address at the bottom of the Photogram FAQ.
Photogram currently only shares to email, Twitter and Facebook; other services may be added in the future if users request them. As well, the app is currently exclusive to iOS; other operating systems may get Photogram later on. Photogram is available from the App Store right now as a free download.
One of the ways that developers can release an app for the iPad is known as a universal app. A single app that work on both the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad. These apps are specially designed to know what device type they are running on and adapt the application to take full advantage of that device. We’re not talking pixel doubled iPhone apps on the iPad, we’re talking true hybrid iPad and iPhone applications.
One such application is BibleScope. This app is a veteran, having been one of the 500 applications on the App Store on launch day. It did really well, relatively, those early days of the App Store, charting well into the Top 100 in sales.
This coming update for BibleScope is the first applications that we know of that will be offering to unlock the iPad functionality via in-app purchasing. It’s an interesting way for developers to recoup the expense of creating the iPad version, but we wonder how customers will take to it. The general response from consumers has been very negative when a developer tries to charge for increased functionality, hopefully this will be different.
Developer Kenny Ham says that he plans on testing the waters by charging $1.99 via in-app purchasing to unlock the iPad functionality, the first time he’s charged for a feature upgrade in the nearly 2 years the app has been available. The main new features for the iPad version include optimization of the display for the larger screen including a 2-page view and pop-over controls.
The upgraded app should be available at iPad launch or shortly after. Hit the jump for more pictures of the iPad version of BibleScope.
With the announcement last week that Apple would allow In-App Purchasing (IAP) for free apps, we wondered what will really change in the App Store. Obviously right now this is a theoretical exercise as, so far, very little has changed. We’ve seen a couple apps that were previously paid switch to free, and at least one high profile app released as free with IAP.
We talked to a few users and a few developers to get their take on what this could mean for the future of the iPhone App Store.
This new app type, free but with In-App Purchasing has quickly been nicknamed free+. There are some really great things about it, and some really bad things about it. Let’s break this down into what’s good and what’s bad for developers and consumers.
Good for Developers
There are lots of really good things to like about this decision for developers and they are almost uniformly happy with the decision. We asked Kyu Lee of Gamevil for his thoughts, “In-app purchasing for free apps is a huge step for Apple, and it really shows how much they are willing to adjust to the developers/publishers needs. Apple was first to adopt in-app purchases, and now first to adopt in-app purchases for free games. We strongly believe the next steps would be introducing microtransactions that are lower than 99c or the ability to use an intermediate currency within the game. We believe that Apple should provide as many options available to the developer/publisher as possible as long as it enhances the customer’s experience, and we’re very excited about what the tracks they’ve been following so far.”
For some types of apps it makes the developers job a lot easier and potentially more profitable. Then there’s the added bonus of making piracy much harder with apps that include in-app purchasing.
More Income Options
With in-app purchasing there are many more income possibilities for developers. Not only can they sell expansions to their app from within the app, but they can also sell subscriptions, upgrades, and virtual goods (think MMO apps). Doing in-app purchasing allows for the impulse buy. For example, the recently detailed Eliminate from ngmoco:) will feature a certain amount of time you can play per day while advancing your stats. If you are really getting into the game and you run out of time you are pretty likely to drop a buck and buy more time. Maybe just once, maybe a few times. Depends on how compelling the app is. Think of this as the candy racks at the grocery store checkout. You are standing there looking at it, a certain number of people will decide to buy.
In addition to more options, income opportunity is spread out for a much longer time. The way it is now most apps that make it to the top 100 do so quickly, then fall off quickly. This little spike represents a very high percentage of their sales. Sales after that are usually tied to an upgrade, press, or other such promotion. IAP allows for longer term income opportunities for developers as they can add content to the app and charge for it over a longer period of time. In addition, you can continue to get money from the dedicated users more than just once like most current apps. Continue reading Thoughts on In-App-Purchasing For Free Apps »