Should freemium games factor in Purchasing Power Parity?

One of the biggest strengths with the games industry today is how global it is. People download and play games from all over the work. Developers who realize this already make sure their games are localized for other languages. This leads to more players, more engagement/viral growth, and ultimately more revenue.

However, but I seldom hear about game developers customizing the price of their games on a per currency basis.

That’s where Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) comes in. Continue reading Should freemium games factor in Purchasing Power Parity?

Monetization strategies for Windows markets

After the last two “Ask Tobiah” questions were about multiplatform development, time to change things up a bit:

How are monetization strategies different for the Windows markets? Any tips or tricks for success?
-Matthew Fossati

As an Evangelist from Microsoft, I don’t have access to numbers or percentages. Even if I did, I would not be able to share them due to privacy agreements unless given explicit permission to do so. But, I can speak from my own personal experience. Continue reading Monetization strategies for Windows markets

You’ve made a game, now what? Marketing and Monetization strategies

It’s finally done! Your game has taken shape, and you’re about to release it on the store!

Now all you have to do is sit back, relax, and watch as it goes viral and becomes the next Minecraft or Flappy Bird.

If only it were that easy.  Too many game developers don’t put in as much time to think about their marketing or monetization as they should. Success in the markets is not something that just happens to you. It’s an art form, just like any other skill. Continue reading You’ve made a game, now what? Marketing and Monetization strategies

Free to Play Game Design: How not to do it wrong

Free to play has become one of the most common mobile game monetization structures. Don’t mistake the “free” in “freemium” to mean you won’t make money though; free to play games are often generating millions more in revenue than some of their premium game counterparts.

That doesn’t mean every freemium game will make money. To be honest, the majority of them don’t. For every success story you hear, there are hundreds if not thousands of other games that didn’t quite get it right. Continue reading Free to Play Game Design: How not to do it wrong

Rohrer says: “Rampant sales are bad for players”

Jason Rohrer, published a blog post on Gamasutra the other day explaining why he feels Steam’s notorious sales are bad for players.

Rohrer is a famous indie game developer and creator of Passage, Inside a Star-filled Sky and most recently The Castle Doctrine.

I don’t think I agree with him. He has some well thought out points, but sales are still a very useful tool to bring exposure and awareness to your game, and make a call to action to buy now. Even if you’re killing sales in the long run, it makes sense that a game will have to get cheaper over time. In the old day, a title could be $60 new forever, until it was no longer “new” and put in a bargain bin or a best-of collection.

With digital, that “new” packaging can last forever. When a game is “older” it isn’t as high value or high demand, nor should it be. Why should I have to pay full price? I am more interested to try a game if I can get in on a deal for a significant discount. If you look at my steam library, it’s full of games I bought only because they were on sale, that I would have never (or much less likely to have) experienced if they were forever full price.

Having a discount event to bring a new insurgence of players into the game shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. More interest in a game is good for existing players, very much for games that involve multiplayer. Your sales will trail off either way, and the spikes you’ll gain from the sales I think will be longer than the revenue from a longer tail end.

Another thing to consider is Rohrer’s argument is awful close to JC Penney’s”Fair and Square” pricing. The clothing store famously changed the way they did business for a year, getting rid of “sales” that supposedly were in the best interest of consumers not to have. Normally, clothing stores mark up the cost of all of their goods, then list certain items on sale for the normal price they would expect it to sell for. If a customer was silly enough to buy an item not on sale, they would get a huge profit. Then the customer got an artificial satisfaction for getting those $100 jeans for the “bargain” price of $25, when that is what they were supposed to sell for all along.

JC Penney’s decided change it so that prices were always the same, and always the price that each item was intended to sell for. On paper, that seems like a good idea right? People want “fair and square” and to not get tricked, right?

This worked out horribly. Comically horribly, actually. JC Penney’s literally issued a public apology to get people to come back to the store. People did not like not having sales. If I bought $25 jeans for $25, who cares? But if I go “hunting” and nap those cool $100 jeans for 75% off, that is amazing! I’ll tell all my friends, I’ll brag about it, and I certainly would shop in that store again looking for more “deals”. Even when people know they’re getting “tricked”, they still felt good their bargains.

For a full explanation of the JC Penny effect, I like this Extra Credit video’s summary of it.

Selling games on Steam can be the same way. Yeah, it’s not “fair” pricing, yeah it brings the value down for all games, but that is what the consumers want. If you don’t have sales, you won’t be heralded as a pricing hero, but ignored as scourge.

Let players feel good about finding bargains, give them a sale now and then.


Be Indie Now Episode 1

This is the first episode of my brand new podcast, Be Indie Now! In the show I will discuss topics of independent game development with various guests hosts.

For the first episode, I invited my friends Katherine Harris and Davain Martinez to talk about monetization, specifically the differences between Freemium and Premium, and which one your game should use.

As this is the first episode, I am really eager to hear any and all of your comments, criticism and feedback. We are all new to talking on camera/mic, and are learning and iterating on our process. What did you like about the show?

What would you like to see more of? Less of? Please let me know, send an email, and/or suggest topics for future shows.

Special thanks to Kenny Spade, who ran board op during the show and is teaching us how to use the equipment.

Be Indie Now Episode 1

Show Notes:

Be Indie Now Episode 1

Question of the day:

“Should I make my game Freemium, or Premium?”


Tobiah Markshttp://TobiahMarks.com
Katherine Harris
Davain Martinez

Special Thanks:

Microsoft, for allowing us to use their equipment and space.
Kenny Spade, for making the show run.


For information about the show, including latest episodes, show notes, and event schedules check out our website:

Click here to see the latest episodes and show notes.

For the video version of the podcast, check out our YouTube Channel.

To subscribe to the mp3 version using RSS, use this link:
Or subscribe through iTunes!

Stay in touch:

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Email us: moc.w1550789155oNeid1550789155nIeB@1550789155wohS1550789155

Watch/Listen now:

San Francisco Meetups – Week of October 14th, 2013.

I went to three meetups in San Francisco this week.

First, I stopped by briefly to the Bay Area Software EngineersThe Promise of 3D Printing” event. It was really cool to learn a bit more about 3d printing as a technology. 400 people attended!

I wish I could have been there for the whole time, but I had to duck out early to make it to the San Francisco Game Development Meetup‘s monthly gathering. This is always a popular meetup, over a hundred game developers met in the Marriott bar to hang out, talk, and show off each others games.

I had some great conversations with fellow independent game developers (and a few freelancers) while I was there. I don’t always go to this meetup, but I went last month as well, and I enjoyed myself. It’s nice to see such a large group of developers interacting with each other. Although due to the nature of the bar, it’s sometimes hard to get around the room to meet many people.

Also this week was Corona SDK Meetup Group’s Monetizing Cross-Platform Apps panel, hosted at YetiZen. Surprisingly I haven’t visited YetiZen before. They host many events there, but I just haven’t been able to make one until now. It’s a nice space, I appreciated all the art on the walls and the pile of board games in the middle.

Corona ran the meetup, but it wasn’t Corona specific. It was more about monetization of apps in general. The panel had representatives from Inneractive, SponsorPay, Vungle, and PlayHaven. It was nice to see so many competitors sitting together talking about monetization in general, and not trying to pitch themselves as why they are better than one another. They also each have slightly different offerings, and even brought up the fact that many profitable games use services from multiple companies, and they work nicely together.

Those are the San Francisco Meetups I went to this week. If you’d like to meet up with me at a future gathering (or even just one on one), please send me a message and we can work out the details!


Apps are a service, not a product

The most common mistake I see unsuccessful* developers make is treating their apps as products, rather than services.

Now by unsuccessful*, I mean financially. I hate to classify the ability to make money as a success for a game. There are so many games I would classify as successful that don’t make any money, and likewise there are games that may make some money (maybe not enough?) that I wouldn’t call successful.

Let me try again:

The most common mistake I see unprofitable developers make is treating their apps as products, rather than services.

(ok, better? Let’s move on…) Continue reading Apps are a service, not a product

Gamasutra: Make Purchasing Present

I was going through my RSS backlog and ran across this blog entry on Gamasutra. Ethan Levy, a monetization design consultant, makes an excellent point about in app purchases.

It’s not just enough to have them in the game, but you have to make them present. Let the user know about them, and why they might like to do so, without breaking the game flow or interrupting their experience.

It’s a short article, read it for yourself:
Gamasutra: Ethan Levy’s Blog – Make Purchasing Present.