The topic of business models happened to come up at the GAMBIT event at MIT titled “Indies will shoot you in the Kneecaps”. Eitan of Firehose Games, Ichiro of Dejobaan Games, and Scott of MacGuffin Games and now of Viximo, talked about working for Indie Start ups in all stages of operation. The moderator was Alex of Owlchemy Labs who stepped out from behind the lap top to answer a question himself. For PC games check out a business plan for a computer game… But let’s shift focus to mobile games for a moment and take a look.
Some of the MIT students had questions relating to the business model for releasing games as apps. They were concerned about spreading the game while also recovering some money. The price point of most games needs to be low in order to attract an audience. Competition is fierce to drop the price and get more players. But development costs need to be recouped. How do you make sure to have some kind of return on investment while still attracting an audience? From that discussion came these suggestions about business models for your apps.
The Long Game: Give away your app for free to build a fan base. Worry about recouping development costs later. This method works if you are in college and have the time to really focus on community development. In college you have time and a roof over your head to make games which build a name. This is not a great option for those who do not have resources to cover their expenses up front.
The Guilt Game: Give away low cost of free app, have in app purchases. This requires using a system that allows for in app purchases. Which apparently completely excludes Microsoft products. Some players may have negative attitudes towards in-app or in-game purchases, and this may drive some audiences away. Many times gamers feel that a free game should be completely free. They erroneously believe that games appear as if by magic, and there is no cost associated with the production of said games. Free to play games are slowly eroding that stance.
The Twin Game: Release a free version of an app that contains ads along side a paid version of that app which contains no ads. This requires more work, and more development time. Not only do you have to code a version of the game which contains some kind of ad support, but you also have to code one without. While this may not exactly double the amount of work you have to do before launching a title, it will require more resources. However, it will allow players to self select into the kind of game experience they prefer.
Have you launched any games under these models? Mobile or otherwise? Any horror stories about a method that you will never use again? If you know someone that can use this information don’t forget to +1 the post! Or share with them directly through twitter.