Freeing Krashlander

There is now a free version of Krashlander in the Windows Phone marketplace.  Not a lite version to upsell my paid version, but a FULL version with all levels.  The only difference is the free version has ads, the paid version does not.

So, why do this?  Why release a full version of the game for free?  Read on…

 

Ads (Pub Center) Work

Pub Center is basically Microsoft’s version of Google’s AdSense.  Now, with Windows Phone, Pub Center is available for use in Windows Phone games and apps.

Krashlander has been available as a paid game since the Windows Phone launch.  If I had to throw out a sales-per-day number, I’d say it averages around 25-35 sales a day.  I get about 70 cents per sale.  Not bad. Makes for some nice extra cash.

However, a recent blog post by Elbert Perez of Occasional Gamer shows that it’s possible to make substantially more than that using Pub Center Ads. The graphic below is from his blog post (Note, Elbert has 7 or 8 games in the marketplace which partly accounts for his great numbers)

OccasionalGamerAds

Image comes from blog post by Elbert Perez

Now, I’m not delusional and I don’t think by flipping my game to free I’m going to be rolling in the dough, but my “bet” is that I can make more per-day with Ads then by selling my paid version of Krashlander.  Also, Elbert’s not the only one claiming to make good money with Ads.  Others have also hinted they have had better luck with Ads then with paid games.

Since Elbert published his blog post, it appears the eCpm and therefore revenue from Ads has gone down a bit.  Even so, I think they are still, currently, a better bet than paid games/apps

 

Trials Do Not Move Games

The hope, both Microsoft’s, mine, and I think most others was that by baking a trial api into the Windows Phone and making it easy for everyone to offer a free sample of their game or app, developers would not need to go the iPhone route of making both a “Lite” version of their game and a full, paid version of their game.  The trial version was suppose to make the free/lite version un-necessary. 

Good plan, but it’s not working.  Best I can tell, free games and apps get anywhere from 10 to 100 times more downloads than games and apps with free trials.  People actively search out free Apps.  They don’t (and in fact CAN”T), search for apps or games that support trials.

I don’t know what the solution to this is, or if there even is one, but right now if you want to build a user base for your games on Windows Phone, free is where it’s at.

 

XBox Live Ceiling

As I mentioned above, Krashlander has been available as a paid (99 cent) game since launch.  And, for pretty much this whole time, it has sat right at the bottom of the XBox Live titles in the Marketplace.  In fact it is actually above a number of them.

GameLevel4

Krashlander living under the XBox Live Ceiling

Now, in some ways this is great and I am happy Krashlander is doing as well as it is. However, given how XBox Live games are promoted and positioned in the Marketplace, I don’t see Krashlander, or any other indie game for that matter, ever being positioned anywhere but below a long (and getting longer) list of XBox Live games.

I’m not here to complain about this.  It is what it is and I’ve voiced my concerns to those that matter.  I just want to express my opinion that as things currently exist, routing around the XBox Live games by going free seems to be a better bet.

 

Let EVERYONE Play

There are a lot of countries that have the Windows Phone but are not able to purchase games.  They can play all the game/app trials and the free games, but they can’t purchase them.

Releasing a free version of Krashlander will let these folks play my game and hopefully help build a “following” for my games. 

I’m getting blog-fatigue, so I’ll wrap it up.

Conclusion

It’s still early days with the Windows Phone ecosystem.  I expect things to change often as Microsoft figures things out.  Someday it may make more sense to focus more on paid games again instead of free Ad based games. If that is the case then I’ll adjust.   Staying fluid, I think, is the key

With the Nokia deal there will hopefully be a momentum push for Windows Phone and it will reach critical mass.  If it does it’ll be a whole new game for us developers.

-Jeff Weber
www.farseergames.com
@jeffweber

Look for Krashlander and Krashlander Free in the Windows Phone marketplace.