Yesterday, the iOS gaming community was up in arms over Phosphor Games’ apparent decision to convert their paid and popular Dark Meadow game to the largely derided freemium model.
But every now and then, as the internet speaks, so goes the real world. And this, happily, is one of those times. Instead of going forward with their platform-altering plans, the team at Phosphor Games has decided to offer two versions of their survival horror masterpiece: one paid, one free(mium). From a developer spokesperson on the Touch Arcade forums:
Our intention was that we’d have one version of the app, so (future) leaderboards, etc could all be shared by same community. We always planned on turning off ads and gifting premium players, so we didn’t see any negative to what we were planning.
BUT it sounds like the community really wants them to stay as separate versions. From reading the forums, one large issue is it sounds like a lot of users have completed the current version, deleted it (as it is a large file size), and would like to check out the next one, but there is a good chance they won’t have save data, and they’d have the hassle of downloading the current one just to have a save game, then download the newer one, etc. All an annoyance we’d rather not give our fans.
SO we are keeping the Premium version of Dark Meadow separate from the Free one, and both will get all the new features. So anybody who previously purchased the game can update whenever they want, and they will just get new stuff.
Sounds logical and reasonable, certainly, but Phosphor Games makes a good point in their ultimate assertion that the evolved freemium model,
if used correctly, can be an exciting way to include more gamers. Team Fortress, Jetpack Joyride, League of Legends have proven it can be a positive thing for their communities.
However, there’s a small problem with this compromise: If the game’s gear and upgrades are fully available in the paid version, why would anyone actually use the micro-transaction model upon which freemium is so cleverly built? Best case scenario, folks will download the free version, try it out, and — if they actually like it — simply purchase the paid app (rather than spend considerably more money to “unlock” the same features). It’ll be interesting to see how Dark Meadow’s developers deal with this issue, and the results may indeed have a lasting impact on future marketing strategies and app pricing plans. I’m not so sure that premium and freemium twins can coexist (to greater profit) on the App Store, but — if they can — expect to see more and more makers use such an approach.