Posted by Rob LeFebvre on April 22nd, 2013 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Narr8, the digital storytelling app we reviewed back in November of last year, has gotten a new update, letting users unlock new episodes with in-app currency, called NARRs tokens. These will are earned through daily use of the Narr8 app, and can also be purchased like other free-to-play games on the App Store. The first two episodes of each series are still free to download, of course. The new update also includes a new autoplay feature, letting users watch a continuous stream of downloaded episodes.
The first step in NARR8′s evolving business model was the introduction of NARRs tokens, which users accrued automatically by using the app each day. This virtual currency has helped users unlock exclusive collectible items associated with each series. Now, users can also buy “NARRs” to unlock new episodes.
Opening the app every day will accrue the full weekly bonus of 120 NARRs per week. The cost of one new episode will be 100 NARRs, which can be purchased for $ 0.99. Users can purchase bundles of 100, 300, 500, or 1000 NARRs for $ 0.99, $ 2.99, $ 4.99, and $ 9.99, respectively. Auto play for motion comics costs 100 NARRs.
Barely two weeks have passed since the release of 2K Games’s Borderlands Legends. Things travel fast in the world of iOS gaming, however, and we checked in with James Lopez, associate producer at Gearbox, to see how he felt about Legends, as well as any plans for the future.
“We never really imagined [Borderlands Legends] being a FPS. It’s clearly possible, but we’re very happy with the FPS experience in Borderlands 1 and 2,” explained James. “The goal of Legends was to try something different, something that explored other facets of Borderlands, untapped potential.”
As anyone who’s played Borderlands Legends can attest to, it’s quite a change of pace to its older siblings, but it turns out that there are some significant similarities in its 4 player based squad combat. “Although you can play Borderlands 1 and 2 alone, we always intended the true experience to include all 4 characters at once. We wanted this to be the same for Legends.” James Lopez elaborated to explain that, “…clearly, we can do missions with fewer characters (the tutorial starts off that way), so it might be something we revisit later.”
Somewhat unusually for a game closely connected to a console or PC title, Borderlands Legends lacks any functionality directly tied into its bigger brothers. James told us that this was “never really considered…an option”, citing that the team wants the fans “to be able to enjoy the full experience for whatever they buy.”
What challenges were faced trying to convert a typically FPS title to the iOS screen, and implementing strategic elements, however? James explained, “We kept asking ourselves what the core ingredients of Borderlands are. Some things were obvious, but some were elusive and some were difficult to accomplish because of time constraints (like randomizing gear, UI tweaks, adding gameplay features).”
Despite such issues, James has been pleased with the response to Borderlands Legends. “We tried to put as much of the core formula of Borderlands in as we could, and we’re glad people are feeling like we accomplished that. That doesn’t mean we won’t try to squeeze in more, though!” It’s worth noting that, at the time of writing, sales figures as well as critical reaction to its release, aren’t as positive as Lopez and the team hoped. App Annie’s listing demonstrates the progress sales wise, while an average Metacritic rating of 51 demonstrates that not everyone found it to their liking.
Improvement seems to be a common theme with 2K and Gearbox’s future plans for Borderlands Legends, however. As James explained, 2K China’s developers believe that “…there are some things we’d still like to revisit, and I believe they’ll knock it out of the park.” and while he couldn’t discuss any immediate plans for DLC or extra content, he did tell us that “…given the great response so far, I think we’d be crazy to stop here”.
As 2K China finds its feet in the iOS world, it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with next. As James explains, “Legends hasn’t been out long, and this is somewhat of a new frontier for us”. Discussing the recent announcement by Subatomic to include in-app purchases within Fieldrunners 2, he expanded upon that by explaining ‘…I think we’d like to explore any option that allows to create content of value for our fans.”
While James Lopez and the team might be clutching their cards close to their hands for now in terms of DLC support, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on any further developments for Borderlands Legends. For now, check out our review to learn more.
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 23rd, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Think you have what it takes? Give it a try with the new free app based on hit reality show, American Idol. The app is free with in-app purchases, and you can also purchase a weekly subscription to access all premium content.
The iOS offering from karaoke specialist StarMaker allows users to sing along to songs allegedly made famous by the latest American Idol contestants, including Adele’s Rolling In the Deep and Led Zepellin’s Whole Lotta Love, with Pitch Correction technology included. Songs can be recorded and shared via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Serj Tankian is best-known for his work with System of a Down, who could be heard all over rock radio in the mid–2000’s, but he’s also embarked on a solo career of his own. In fact, he’s got his third solo album, Harakiri coming out, and to help promote it, there’s a new app, I Am Serj. This lets users remix the vocals from his solo albums (sorry, no System of a Down material here) with special custom loops in order to create custom songs.
There are 30 loops available, and vocals can be added in, with the ability to modify properties including the tempo and pitch of the song to get that perfect remix of the music. The randomizer can be used to find interesting combinations or just to find a good starting point to then modify. Songs can either be exported as MP4 video files, or even as custom ringtones to use. The app is $0.99 to download, with in-app purchases for additional vocals and content, though it can all be unlocked with a single $1.99 IAP.
The original Fishing Joy has proven to be hugely successful across Asia since its release in the second half of 2010, but that popularity hasn’t translated very well to the Western world. With the release of Fishing Joy 2 later this week, we got a chance to check it out and see if this edition will tempt more of the world this time round.
Fishing Joy 2 isn’t actually anything like a fishing sim, despite the name. Instead, it’s a glorified shoot em up aimed at the casual market. Players are presented with an underwater scene with an array of different sea creatures floating around. A tap of the screen unleashes a tirade of bullets and, well, that’s about it.
There’s variety in the form of different weapons that can be used, each with different powers and strengths, but it’s a subtle change that doesn’t really change the basic structure of what’s expected of the player.
Fish are valued differently according to their size with the player given coins for each capture. A multiplier affects how many coins are gained with these pieces leading to gaining levels. It’s a simple enough mechanic with levelling up leading to new scenes to shoot amongst.
Ultimately though, there’s little point to Fishing Joy 2. It’s very pretty to look at and cute in its own way, but there’s seemingly no real draw to returning to it. I found myself playing it till I ran out of coins (which means no more bullets until a refresh or in-app purchase) then leaving disinterested. Lack of structure sometimes doesn’t matter but in the case of Fishing Joy 2, the addition of challenges would have benefited it greatly. As it stands, the action is never-ending but also lacking a strong purpose other than to pass the time.
Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how casual gamers across the world react to such a laid back game when Fishing Joy 2 comes out July 12th.
The evidence comes from a survey of 17,000 individuals and taking data from the top 200 grossing games in the iOS and Android marketplaces.
It also found that in the USA, mobile gaming grew from 75 million to 101 million players across all platforms, with 69% of players using a smartphone and 21% on tablets.
In that time, paying players have grown 35% to 37 million, with individuals paying 5 times more money in iOS games than with Android.
Much of the in-app purchasing success of iOS titles has been attributed to the “seamless purchase” experience as Newzoo’s CEO Peter Warman explains. Ease of use, after all, makes everything seem so much more appealing and tempting.
All signs point to these figures only increasing in the next year, with the success of the iOS platform far from peaking just yet. It remains fascinating to see how the uptake of smartphones and tablets is changing the games industry.
iOS devices have fast become an essential tool for regular travellers who need to be able to work while on the move. Such devices also come in handy when in need of a way to organize future trips. One newly updated app to help people along the way is WorldMate.
WorldMate does pretty much everything anyone could need when it comes to planning a trip. There’s an itinerary manager which covers flights, hotels, hire cars and meetings. It’s possible to search flight schedules, book hotels (on the iPhone version), search via Yelp, view maps and directions for all itinerary items and check out the local forecast. It’s also possible to check out whether LinkedIn contacts are located nearby, ideal for conferences.
The app is free but regular users can opt to upgrade to WorldMate Gold which offers pushed flight alerts, real-time flight statuses integrated into the itinerary and the ability to sync the calendar.
To celebrate the new update, WorldMate Gold is available for $2.99 for a limited time and normally priced at $9.99.
Megapop has released a huge update for Trolls vs Vikings, adding over a hundred new dynamic levels, with the addition of Valhalla. Alongside this the game also features player levels, a new region to play in, and a new spell system. The look of world map has also been overhauled, along with new graphics, tips, and […]