November 4, 2009
Not too long ago, Freeverse decided to take a look at how in-app purchases affect the App Store's Top Grossing Apps list. After comparing the income and units sold of two of their top 100 apps, Flick Fishing and Top Gun, they were able to conclude that the Top Grossing Apps list does indeed take in-app purchases into account. But if you were looking for more proof that the Top Grossing Apps list is serving its purpose, ngmoco has it for you. Eliminate, the developer's massively hyped first-person shooter for the iPhone and iPod touch, has entered the App Store's Top Grossing Apps list even though it is available for free. Eliminate uses in-app purchases in a very unique way. Instead of charging players for armor or weapon upgrades for their characters, they charge players for their time. But players don't have to pay to play, they can simply sit back and wait for their energy to recharge. Energy is what is needed to enter online matches to earn credits, so players can still take part in online matches while their energy is recharging, they just won't be able to earn credits. Credits are what is needed to make the all-important weapon and armor upgrades. So the catch is, if you are willing to drop anywhere from $.99 to $39.99 on in-app purchases that give you more energy immediately, you will always be able to play the game AND earn credits, which gives you a slight advantage. At this moment, Eliminate is the most downloaded free app in the App Store, and is currently ranked 58th in the Top Grossing Apps list. Late yesterday evening, however, Eliminate was hovering somewhere in the top 40. This sudden jump into the Top Grossing Apps list doesn't mean that ngmoco's business model for Eliminate is a true success and other developers should start employing it immediately. We will have to just wait and see how the game performs long-term, especially after the initial media coverage and hype wears off. It will be interesting to see how and if ngmoco can keep players yearning to earn more credits as time goes on.