Making our apps free via FAAD follow up

Hey there friends!

Really sorry for the long gap in blog posts, we’ve been very busy here at Ragtag HQ.  We put a hard three months of work into the prototype for our new game, finishing just in time for our trip to Indiecade.  That will be the focus of our next blog post, which will hit shortly after this.

But first things first, we owe you a follow up on how the Unstoppable Fist FAAD campaign went for us.  The short answer:  Nothing changed in the land of Fist.  Now for the long answer…

So just to catch you back up without asking you to read the previous post, the promise of FAAD is as follows:  You make your app free at the same time they feature it on the front page of their site, along with shooting out a notification to those that have the FAAD app installed.  The app gets tens of thousands of downloads, and the momentum continues after the app is reverted from FREE to PAID.

Fist was downloaded something like 20k times in the first day.  It dropped approximately by half each day following.  We left it free for about 4 days before setting it back to a paid app.

The theory, as I understand it, is that your app rises in the charts, then once you set the app to paid again, the app remains high in the charts, remains highly visible, and people continue to buy it.  Well, this certainly wasn’t the case for us!  The app rose quite high in a few countries.  Most notably, here in the US, France, and the UK.  Particularly France, which was the country that came the closest to breaking into the top ten free apps.

On the bright side, the reviews didn’t take quite as much of a beating as we expected.  In the last post, I theorized that the 4.5 star rating we had prior to the campaign would take a serious beating.  It did go down a bit, but not as much as we expected.  It was constantly teetering between 4 and 4.5 stars, ultimately landing at 4.  This actually made Matt and I very happy.  We believed that the original high ratings we from people that actively sought out the game and purchased it… people that are far more likely to actually enjoy the game.  People that discover the app through FAAD, we felt, were far less likely to appreciate it, as they were simply trying out the free game of the day they were being served, and there was no reason to believe they would be predisposed to liking it.  The fact that the reviews didn’t take much of a beating is a great source of pride for us!

The sales though, didn’t move one inch.  In fact, we haven’t been asked to pay FAAD any money, because our sales were just a touch lower after the campaign than they were before the campaign.  The day after the campaign ended, it was like nothing ever happened… right back to 8 to 10 sales a day.

After going through this process, we realized that the only real way your app can benefit from this is if it has great word of mouth.  Which is actually fine, as this is how word travels with all of the successful apps.  But the theory that your app gets additional sales because its high in the ranks at the point that its switched from free to paid was, in our case, simply not true.  The reason for this is the app moves from the FREE category, to the PAID category.  Over the course of one hour, your game completely drops off the face of the free app listing, because it is no longer free.  At the same time, it reenters the paid category, and in our case, entered it right at the bottom.

So all in all, no harm done, but no real gains either.  It didn’t drum up any attention from the media, didn’t drive attention to our other apps, didn’t increase sales.  As you may remember from the previous post, we didn’t believe that our app was the type of app that would benefit from the FAAD campaign in the first place, and it was also a big mistake on our part not to have any in app purchases in the app.

So no tears we’re dropped.  We were happy to have the opportunity to go through the process and experience it for ourselves.  If this ever comes up again, we’ll be able to make more informed decisions regarding whether or not our app is the right fit for this type of campaign.  So in that respect, the greatest outcome from this experience is that we leveled up our exp in free app experimentation.

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