If you’ll recall, a month ago I decided to experiment with the price of Nonogram Madness. Since launch, I had it priced at $2.99; playing the game through to completion will take even the most hardened nonogram master an hour or two, so I figured three bucks was a fair price. Plus, it seems the conventional wisdom is to price niche games a bit higher. The idea is that people who are actually searching for an uncommon genre will be more inclined to pay a slightly higher price, because, since their genre isn’t as well-populated as others, they have to take what they can get. I was also influenced by the standpoint of other developers who push back against the “$0.99 default” of the App Store. They argue that $0.99 is an artificially low price, and that developers can’t make sell enough volume to make up the difference.
Well, fortunately, since I’m just writing games as a side biz, I can pretty much do whatever I want in the pricing realm and the results are more of a curiosity, rather than something I have to depend on for my livelihood. I wanted to see what effect lowering the price of Nonogram Madness had on sales. All of my sales come through people searching on the App Store. I don’t have any other sort of outside promotion going on, so I think it’s reasonable to assume that the difference in sales numbers is based purely on price. (Although in this case, there are websites that list apps that have had their prices dropped, so it’s possible sales could have come from one of those.)
I put the game at $0.99 for two weeks and $1.99 for two weeks in January. The results were, as you can imagine, pretty obvious.
- 128 sales at $0.99
- 44 sales at $1.99
Not super high numbers either way, but not too bad for a relatively unknown (compared with something like sudoku) niche. It seems pretty obvious from these numbers that more income is derived from the lower price point, and that the “conventional wisdom” that I referred to earlier is bunk. So, naturally, I’ve changed the permanent price point of Nonogram Madness to be lower. More money + more people playing my game is hard to argue against.
This experiment has made me also reconsider the pricing of Revolve Ball. Originally I was thinking about going with $1.99, due to the length of the game. However, it’s now clear to me why other developers price their (high quality) apps at $0.99 — if they can get enough momentum out of the gate, they have a better chance of recouping their development costs. For better or for worse, while iOS users are used to paying for apps, they’re also used to paying $0.99. I think that the only developers who can actually buck this trend are those who are more well-known, or whose games have gone viral on another platform (as an example, consider Canabalt, priced at $2.99, which originally started as a Flash web-based game).
The other thing that I’ve had to consider is the length and scope of future games that I make. Since I develop games part-time, it makes no sense for me to make a large game that I can’t sell for its’ real value. That means that I should aim for creating games that are shorter, or at least less time-intensive to make, but that contain enough gameplay to justify a $0.99 price.
EDIT: After another two weeks of $0.99 pricing, I’m not seeing the increased sales numbers that I was expecting. There were two days that had sales spikes (from Japan, no less), but after that the numbers went down to ~5/day. So, I’m raising the price back up to $1.99.
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