Experimenting with pricing: Making our apps free via FAAD

Hey all!

On Sunday, August 12th, 2012, Unstoppable Fist will be the featured app on FAAD.  We thought long and hard about the pros and cons of taking a chance with this, and ultimately we decided to go ahead and give it a shot.  The promise of FAAD is that they take quality apps that are not getting enough exposure, making them free for a day, then blasting that news out to their 8 million plus installed app user base.  The app then shoots up the charts, at which point you make the app paid again, then hope it sticks around a while, lingering by word of mouth, and making buckets of money in the meantime.

Truthfully, we believe that this strategy can work, but only with a very specific type of app, and we don’t believe that Unstoppable Fist is one of those apps.

This is something we actually sought out for our other app, Puppy Panic.  Puppy Panic has in app purchases, so it stands to benefit in a big way from something like this.  However, when I inquired with FAAD about featuring it, it was not deemed worthy of the main feature, so the only option was to pay 6k to have it featured on the ‘side bar’.  It was easy to say no to.

They contacted us shortly after Fist released, and initially my reply was ‘hell no’.  Not only were we riding high on good initial sales, but I wasn’t about to pay 6k to make our game free.  After saying no, I was told that Fist had been selected as a contender for their main feature, where they do not charge anything in advance.  Instead, they take 40% of sales for 30 days after the campaign.  And they only take 40% of sales that are above and beyond what you were already making prior to the campaign.  After sales of Fist slowed to a crawl, this intrigued us enough to give it a shot.

Above, I mentioned that we don’t believe Fist will benefit much from this.  In fact, it could even have a negative impact.  Because Fist doesn’t have in app purchases, we have no way to extract money from those that download the game.  The only real chance these people can benefit us in a monetary way, is if they like the app enough to spread news of it by word of mouth, preferably after the app is no longer free.  However, while there are many that enjoy Unstoppable Fist, it is certainly a game that caters to a specific taste, and its not a taste that is common amongst those that play mobile games.  (It’s really challenging!)

Because its so challenging, there is a good chance that a lot of the people that download it for free will be unaware of what they are getting themselves into, and react negatively to it.  While our game does currently carry a 4.5 star rating, and has many positive reviews from gaming websites, we do expect our user ratings to take a hit.  It stands to reason that anyone that made the decision to purchase the game up to this point, did so with the belief that they would enjoy the game.  It had one characteristic or another that appealed to them, so they gave it a shot.  Once the app is available for anyone to download for free, with think the likelihood that the percentage of people that don’t like it as much will be quite a bit higher.

So that being the case, why do this?  Well, when we set out to make both Unstoppable Fist and Puppy Panic, we looked at them primarily as experiments.  Experiments to see what kind of apps we could make in our spare time. (we worked other full time jobs while making these apps) They would allow us to go through the process of release apps on the appstore, and they would also allow us to feel good about experimenting with different pricing models, and marketing methods.  And we think having the opportunity to try out FAAD with no cost is worth trying out.

At this point, our apps have nearly fulfilled their purpose.  In addition to accomplishing all of the above, they have allowed us to establish great contacts with many members of the media, along with fellow developers.  Also, they serve as a respectable foundation for what will one day be the history of our companies catalog of games.

I’ll post an update back here in a couple of weeks to let you know how it went!

Chris

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