It’s been about 2 weeks since I rereleased Tic-Tac-Toe 3D for WP7 as a free version. First days have seen a peak of interest from being a “new” free app, so I waited for some time to pass before making any conclusions. It seems that usage has stabilized over the past week, so let’s take a look at the stats.
That’s “visits” which roughly represents the number of times the game was launched during a day. The average is 147 visits per day (~116 visitors per day).
At the same time a paid version of the same game demonstrated this usage:
That’s a whooping 3.7 “visits” per day. That’s almost 40x difference.
There are a couple of interesting points about these stats:
- the paid version has a free trial which is a fully functional single player game
- I promoted the paid version when it was released to some extent (video, featured in couple WP7 blogs, etc.) and did nothing for the free one (aside from using it as a case study app for AdDuplex)
Despite huge difference in usage the economics of both versions could be pretty similar. The paid version sold 22 copies in 7 weeks which is about $15 after MS takes it share (where’s that Ferrari dealership phone number?) and the free version displays about 3300 ads a week which would be about 23,000 in 7 weeks. Assuming $1 CPM rate (which I guess is reasonable if I ran pubCenter instead of awesome AdDuplex) that would be $23 which is comparable to the revenue from the paid version.
But that’s not what I want to emphasize. Remember that paid version has a free trial which is a fully functional single player game (I guess the vast majority of the users use that anyway).
Trial API != Lite API
When Microsoft introduced a Trial API on WP7 it was in part targeted to be used to create Lite and Premium versions in one. What my stats above show is that the system doesn’t work in this capacity. The current trial mode is only good for making, well, trial – a mode which demonstrates application’s capabilities but is essentially unusable.
No one is looking at paid apps without intention to spend money. Even if the app has a fully usable free trial (with some premium features available to paid users) no one is going to try it. That’s a sad reality.
For my game it’s safe to assume that at least 80% of users would be satisfied with functionality available in the trial of the paid app (no 2 player mode and no high scores board). So the usage of the “paid” app should be no more than 20% less than for the free one, not 40 times.
The conclusion for the moment – for Lite/Premium combo your best bet is creating 2 apps.
We Need Lite API
Actually we don’t. I think it can work with current Trial API with these modifications on organizational level:
- developers can specify (when submitting to Marketplace) that the app is Lite/Premium, rather than Trial/Full. All using the same Trial API
- some procedure should be in place for testers to verify that Trial mode is actually Lite mode (no time bombs, fully usable basic functionality, etc.)
- Lite/Premium apps are listed in Free section of the Marketplace.
P.S.: on a side note you should check my Tic-Tac-Toe 3D game. It’s pretty nice and engaging. Zune links: free with ads, trial/paid without ads.