Hey Indie Devs, A Case Against Slicing Your App’s Price Down To Free?

I had an interesting reply the other day when I approached an indie game developer/publisher on whether he would be interested to buy up some ad space on Nine Over Ten 9/10 to advertise his game. His reply came in the negative (which I’m ok with), explaining that his company prefers to focus on free-app-a-day kind of promotions.

I gave that answer some food for thought, and since the game isn’t one that relies on in-app purchases, how does it make money then? Sure you’ll get all the exposure but does that translate to sales? Businessweek came up with an article just recently detailing the fact and an actual case study, titled The Cost of Being Amazon’s Free App of the Day.

Basically the guys over at Shifty Jelly had their game Pocket Caster featured as the free app of the day on Amazon’s App Store. Purchases of the app increased from 20 a day to more than 100,000 on the day it went free. Note that last bit as the company didn’t earn anything and right after the promo period ended, sales went back to normal levels, but customer support demands rose. So much for a buzzmaker.

Here’s what the developers had to say:

“Did the exposure count for much in the days afterward? That’s also a big no, the day after saw a blip in sales, followed by things going back to exactly where we started, selling a few apps a day. In fact Amazon decided to rub salt in the wounds a little further by discounting our app to 99¢ for a few days after the free promotion. All we got was about 300 e-mails a day to answer over the space of a few weeks, that left us tired and burnt out.”

This is a pretty interesting real-life case. Any developers out there would care to share their experience in slicing the price of their apps down to “FREE”? Check out the full article over here: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/the-cost-of-being-amazons-free-app-of-the-day-08032011.html



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  1. Pascal August 8, 2011

    We actually sliced the price of Meganoid (http://www.orangepixel.net/meganoid/) on iOS for a day using one of the various free-for-a-day campaigns.

    As some might not know, you normally have to PAY to get your game promoted on that free-for-a-day (so you pay for giving away your own game for free). It never made sense to me on how that worked, so having this opportunity for free was a good way to try it out.

    The game received a nice 26.000 downloads in a single day! so the promoting of the game really worked, however the day after it was down to a few hundred sales per day, and that got even lower as usual.

    Before people say it might have to do with the quality of the game, I’d like to think the game is pretty good ;) and the various game-reviewers and many 4 or 5 star user ratings on both iOS and Android market seem to agree. With now close to 400.000 gamers playing the game on either iOS or Android and both version having an average of 4.5 star rating, it can’t be the quality of the game at fault.

    The game did get some extra positive ratings and a lot of extra chatter on social networks and forums, so it did help a bit, but it seems to not be worth paying for such a promotion.