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Paid vs Free thoughts - Gideros Forum

Paid vs Free thoughts

ArtLeeAppsArtLeeApps Member
edited April 2014 in Relax cafe
I recently got an email from a user of my very first Native Android game, "Marco Polo". It was free, my very first attempt at mobile game making, the main game has 4 buttons. when you clicked it, it produced a sound (a recording of either Me or my Spouses voices saying "Marco or Polo"). Thats it !.

Anyway the email was along the lines of "i was expecting more, like a GPS system that told me where the person was, etc."
So i wrote back thanking them for the suggestion and explaining it was only a simple little app. She wronte back saying its ok, her and her sister play in the supermarket when they are separated for fun.

Im currently going through the process (to allow me to upload into Apple, paid games). but to do that, you need an ABN (got now), and an AusKey for the Tax/Business Portal, so i can register for Australian Tax (GST), then these are uploaded to Apple and they let you release paid games.

Then im thinking.... Its a lot of work to get all this setup to release a paid game in Apple (Google doesnt have this paper trail).
If i do get this setup, and start to produce paid games, then the users will "expect to get what they paid for". if the game is FREE, then if the user doesnt like the game, they can just delete it and they dont loose anything.

So... is it really worth putting out paid games, or is it better to put out free games, fill with Advertising and In-App purchases (even though i would think Apple would need your ABN/Tax details for In-App too).

Also if i do get a dribble of paid app money, i may still need to declare it yearly or have the ABN/Tax cancelled due to inactivity ....argh. i just want to make games :(


Comments

  • MellsMells Guru
    edited April 2014
    It's a matter of perception and expectations.
    A pricing strategy sets expectations, the important thing is to meet those expectations.

    (Putting F2P on the side for now, because it makes things relatively different)

    1. If you create relatively "big" games (in terms of ambitions, resources invested, the relative impact it has on your first testers), you want to attract people looking for quality.
    As a free game, Tengami/Monument Valley/Device 6/Bastion/Sword and Sorcery wouldn't have been successful.

    - By paying a premium price, they express their own need for a different type of product. Your game allow them to think they value quality over a few dollars.
    - If you make it free, you will attract another kind of users that will not value the work done. They come with different expectations.

    My point is that your pricing strategy gives you total control of the expectations of the users you want to attract.
    Free users are more vocal when they are disappointed, and in a world where games/creations became commodities, they expect high quality for free.

    2. If you create smaller games, and if you don't have a strong differentiation point, it seems that going free with ads is the solution that devs have found to be the most profitable (or the less miserable).
    - if you make it paid and people expect something "bigger", they'll hunt you and tell the world how a bad person you are, a scammer, etc... you'll never be able to sleep anymore
    - if you make it free and frame it so that they know they download a small game that they'll play a few minutes in their free time, that could work.

    But free is just unsustainable unless you follow a clear strategy.

    3. If you don't have high $ expectations (but have a small nice game) and don't have a strong strategy (putting xx apps out there, cross promoting inside the app, doing online promotion, trying hard to get reviews) then ads won't make you money. Put everything as paid (even the smallest price, to avoid freeloaders) and move to something else in your life.
    That will be a little side income, without the hassle of dealing with freeloaders.

    Never compete on price.
    Making something cheaper than the others (or putting even more inside, for free) is the worst thing you can do for your business.

    Freeloaders are evil. They don't deserve your time. If they are not happy with what you provide, fire them. Send them an autoresponder "thanks for taking the time. I put a lot of effort into everything I do, and if it's not your taste there are millions of other free games. Good luck finding one that fits with your high expectations!"

    Listen to negative feedback if it's constructive and improve what you do.
    Don't care about whiners, as soon as you put something out there they will come and ruin the party.
    Otherwise you will focus on the few negative reviews, and miss the dozens positive ones (it takes more than 5 positive thoughts to forget 1 negative thought).

    You don't owe the world anything, except being happy with what you do and creating value for others.
    If you can find a small audience that likes (loves) what you do, focus on them. Forget the others.
    Also if i do get a dribble of paid app money, i may still need to declare it yearly or have the ABN/Tax cancelled due to inactivity ....argh. i just want to make games
    You can make games and enjoy your passion without any limit. Making it a business is a different choice, because you can not expect people to pay you for something that you enjoy (nobody pays me when I play soccer with my friends).


    Good Luck in finding the way that fits with what you want to achieve in life!
    twitter@TheWindApps Artful applications : The Wind Forest. #art #japan #apps
  • Also if i do get a dribble of paid app money, i may still need to declare it yearly or have the ABN/Tax cancelled due to inactivity ....argh. i just want to make games :(
    @Artleeapps, inactivity is the least of your worries specially with the rather change of tone at ATO recently.

    Your title for this thread is quite interesting, after all most of the thoughts here are FREE, though it would be nice if they were Paid for. I interpreted it at first as "PAID thoughts VS FREE thoughts" and wondered, because most of the advice and thoughts here are FREE ;)
    twitter: @ozapps | http://www.oz-apps.com | http://howto.oz-apps.com | http://reviewme.oz-apps.com
    Author of Learn Lua for iOS Game Development from Apress ( http://www.apress.com/9781430246626 )
    Cool Vizify Profile at https://www.vizify.com/oz-apps
  • @Mells yes.. and also, well know companies that have released big games Electronic Arts etc. people have no hesitation paying around $8 for a game. unknown companies would struggle to get new customers to pay for a game. So if you get well know spreading your free apps, then move onto paid apps, it may be a better long term thing.

    @OZApps yes its scary reading some of the pages of info on the Australian Small business and Australian Tax office sites... its a bog of information that could easily get you into trouble if you dont follow the rules. We need a subscription filter on the forums :) if your a paid member to get to read the premium posts, and if your a guest you get to read the "Kongoratz" and smily posts LOLOL

  • MellsMells Guru
    edited April 2014
    unknown companies would struggle to get new customers to pay for a game.
    That's an assumption that you need to test. It's far from being a truth.
    If you are unknown it's true that you can't leverage your existing audience to benefit from a more efficient launch sequence.
    It's also true that you might not be able to benefit from exposure (you haven't built any relationships with media yet).
    But now more than ever, people are paying for things from people they have never met/heard of.
    Those transactions happen a million times, every day, everywhere on earth, and there is no need for direct connection between the buyer and the seller.
    So I kind of disagree : unknown companies might struggle to get exposure, they might not be able to leverage their reputation so that users who trust their brand buy with no hesitation, but lot of unknown companies are showing us that they have no issue getting paying customers :)
    So if you get well know spreading your free apps, then move onto paid apps, it may be a better long term thing.
    Nope! Again that's an assumption that you have. If you release free games you attract people who like free games. Once you release paid apps, you're talking to a totally different target (there only is a small overlap).
    You might convert only 0.XX% of your existing audience. I don't think that's a sustainable strategy.

    I know, all of this becomes a bit complex but the idea is simple : if you want to sell, make something that people want and that you can bring in a way that fits with their existing buying purchases.
    You definitely can do this while working on something that you like, it's not about "selling your soul" and "working on projects that you hate".
    twitter@TheWindApps Artful applications : The Wind Forest. #art #japan #apps
  • I can relate to paying for more apps since owning an Apple Mini and an IPhone.
    when you look for an app in the App store your presented with apps that fit your search (free and paid), so i tend to get the one that suits what i need either paid or free.
    when i used my HTC/Android, i always selected the Free app category, then searched for apps :). it that failed, then i looked at paid.

    Ive always been a windows person, but since using the Mac/Iphone it feels "cleaner", in the sense its tidy and im more careful what crap i install. which is also why im paying for the good apps more lately.

    ive only turned on my old laptop to get some personal files. and ive only used my old HTC to test a version of a Gideros built game.

    so if i read into bits of what you mean....If i work on game i would enjoy, and ask payment for the work i do, which will attract the customer that do pay. Those customers may come back for other updates or games as paying customers. Then if i make money its a bonus, but either way i enjoy what i do..

  • Ive always been a windows person, but since using the Mac/Iphone it feels "cleaner", in the sense its tidy and im more careful what crap i install. which is also why im paying for the good apps more lately.
    That is what a lot of people do not understand about Mac users, it's like Pringles, once you POP, you can't stop. The feeling cannot be explained, however the first few weeks can be What do I do with this now? Think of those that moved when there was no Mac Store and more WinCrap than ever.
    twitter: @ozapps | http://www.oz-apps.com | http://howto.oz-apps.com | http://reviewme.oz-apps.com
    Author of Learn Lua for iOS Game Development from Apress ( http://www.apress.com/9781430246626 )
    Cool Vizify Profile at https://www.vizify.com/oz-apps
  • Its not a smooth transition from using windows up to age 46, then jumping over to Mac, just finding files was a challenge... and im still having to remember that the cut and paste hot keys are Option-C not Ctrl-C (as i still work on WIndows servers/clients at work.)

  • petecpetec Member

    That is what a lot of people do not understand about Mac users, it's like Pringles, once you POP, you can't stop.
    I can! Had my iMac for 6 years and hardly ever used it. Nice looking and I like some aspects, but it never managed to win me over.
  • MellsMells Guru
    edited May 2014
    so if i read into bits of what you mean....If i work on game i would enjoy, and ask payment for the work i do, which will attract the customer that do pay. Those customers may come back for other updates or games as paying customers. Then if i make money its a bonus, but either way i enjoy what i do..
    Not really.
    Here is maybe not the place to talk about those topics but basically each dev has to check his ambition and expectations first, and act accordingly. There is not a "better" way to do it but at least knowing which are the two options is important.

    (Back to the old days. One last time)

    Imagine two circles that represent a dev's interests, and a player's interests.
    [1] If a dev wants to create games because he loves it, there might (or might *not*) be an overlap between his interests, and the players' ones. When there is an overlap, you find players happy to become customers.
    - In that case, "making something I love" is a primary goal for the dev.
    - Generating income is a secondary goal that might or might *not* be achieved.

    The problem comes from the fact that lot of people (devs, illustrators, basically anyone) assume because they've spent a lot of time on a task, on a creation, it has a high value. "Why isn't anyone paying attention?" "Too much competition!!" "That's apple's app store fault, players are idiots who only want free stuff!!"
    That's a bias and it's very well known (we tend to think people value it as much as we do. Like someone would think "my kids are much more interesting than others!" Indeed, because as a parent you've 'invested' much more time, put much more effort).

    [2]If you admit that you want to build a sustainable business (and people have too much emotional and mental blocks towards making money ("scammy", "this is not the reason why I'm doing it" blabla).
    - Then making money becomes the primary goal (so you can make more than one game and reach a high number of players with your great game).
    -> so you make everything to understand where the players' interests are FIRST, try to make it fit with your existing expertise AND tastes. You work hard to create a product that fits within the overlap, that's a lot of work before even writing a single line of code (but most programmers hate that idea because they're good at coding and want to get started as soon as possible :)
    - Doing something you love for a certain period of time is enabled by making money

    So back to your question : i did not say that it's about working on something that you love first. I said that you make a conscious choice about what you are after (define the primary goal) and follow the way that makes sense.

    When devs complain that the game they've made for their own pleasure did not meet success and that "people are just looking for free stuff!!!" there might be a high percentage of them that just did not want the hassles of running a business, only wanted to have fun, and do not want to attribute their lack of success to ... not making a choice, first.

    Look at guava7 their portfolio is built on ideas that, only by looking at the types of games (puzzle games, cute characters, catchy music) you know it has a lot of potential.
    They inject their own personality, but they did not try to come up with a totally new kind of games etc... they might work on their dream game on the side, and success from "proven kind of games" will help them fund it.


    The last thing is : this works for paid products.

    But when we talk about free products, it's more complex with three circles of interest : the dev, the user (player), the customer (ad network).
    As a dev, your customer is not the player. It's the ad network. That's a totally different world.

    So the "trick" to be profitable is to sell the audience (compound of player's attention) to your customer (ad networks who collect that attention and will resell it to SuperCell and Gungho).

    So, anyway :)

    see you all again in xx weeks (I just stay a bit more to track answers to my other thread)



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    twitter@TheWindApps Artful applications : The Wind Forest. #art #japan #apps
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  • @Mells Thank you again, you always have lots of information for all of us.

    I guess im the sort of dev that likes to play games more than make them, and wanted to build games as a hobby, from the thoughts of my spouse and I, money would be nice, but i am also one of those that havent got the time or effort to build a business, develop a team and market. The amount of time i spend at the moment actually making games is tiny (0-6 hours a week if im lucky between my real programming job and my real life :)

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