Making a buck on the App Store is pretty difficult at the best of times, and logically one would think that it would be even more difficult once a developer turns around and makes its app free. But, it turns out that making your game free is a great way to quintuple your revenue. Just ask Temple Run developer Imangi Studios. Its game has exploded on the App Store after going free.
Speaking to Gamesutra, Imangi co-founder Natalia Luckyanova states, “the revenue immediately went up about 5x when we set the app free. Keeping it free was a no-brainer.” What’s not mentioned in the article is that Imangi has a number of in-app purchases available to gamers that range from $0.99 to $19.99. Essentially, gamers purchase coins that let them buy power-ups from the in-game store. While the barrier to entry is gone for most potential gamers, there’s still an avenue for making money in place.
Making the game free propelled the game to number two on the ‘top free app’ listing in Apple’s App Store. The move made by Imangi clearly illustrates the benefits of making your app free right from the beginning, and offering users the ability to purchase upgrades and premium features from directly within the application.
Interestingly, before reading this news, I had a conversation with some family members about games and apps they were loving on their iPhones currently. Every single one of them bemoaned paying for games, which surprised me a little. Personally, I have no problem paying a couple of dollars for an app, but it seems that on the whole paying for apps is not something most are willing to do these days. I’m starting to wonder if I’m in the minority. People want games and apps for free, but then seem to have no problem paying $19.99 for virtual in-game currencies. I’d rather pay $2.00 for the game up front, but that’s just me.
If you’re a developer, you may want to think about this news as a bit of a case study, and ask yourself if the psychological hurdle of charging $0.99 for your game is standing in the way of making some pretty serious coin. Temple Run has seen its download rate increase since going free, and more importantly its revenue has skyrocketed. You could be next.