Pricing and Advertising and Marketing, Oh My!

I haven’t talked a whole lot about my strategies (ha ha ha) for game pricing, advertising, and marketing yet. This is mostly because I haven’t really figured things out. Mostly I’ve got ideas whirling around in my head and I’m not sure that any of them will work. Because I’m not sure if I can make any kind of rational post about all of this, I thought I’d just try more of a brain-dump and try to list out all the things I’m considering or thinking about…ready?


The game is going to be released at $4.99 in Canada and the U.S. (and whatever magic number that translates to in other regions’ currencies). I struggled a lot with pricing for Dapple. The App Store “model” encourages developers to sell their products at the lowest possible price point. Many developers have talked about getting bad reviews from people because their game wasn’t priced at $0.99. I’ve got six months of work invested in Dapple and I really do feel like it’s worth the $4.99 price point. Hell, if I were selling this on PC or Mac, I’m confident I could charge $9.99-$12.99 for the same game! I built three full game modes and I think it’s a really polished game. However, only time will tell whether or not people will buy it at that price.

Many games on the App Store launch at a reduced price, then raise their rates a few weeks later. I don’t feel like this is a good strategy for Dapple. I have no rational reason, it just doesn’t feel right to me.

Many games reduce their price after a few weeks after launch to try to bump sales. Again, this isn’t something I’m that keen on, but I may change my mind. At any rate, I wouldn’t count on it happening any time soon. I’d rather give Dapple a few months to try to sell at $4.99 and see how it goes. But who knows how I’ll feel if I’m selling 3 copies a day in 2 weeks. The reason I don’t like this, though, is that your early adopters feel cheated. The people who supported you early are being penalized for their support.

Lite Version

There has been a huge flood of lite versions to the App Store since Ethan Nicholas talked about exponential growth in iShoot sales after a releasing a Lite version of his game. I do plan on releasing a Lite version of Dapple in the future, but not right away. I have to build it first! This is something I’ve planned to do from the start.

With the flood of new Lite versions to the store, there has been a mixed reaction by developers. Some are seeing their sales increase as a result, others are not. Here’s the important thing to remember about a lite version: it has to make people want to buy your game! I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I’ve seen lite versions of some awful apps. When I’ve downloaded the lite version it made me glad I didn’t pay $0.99 for the full version. This is NOT what you want. If the lite version isn’t going to make your app look great, don’t release it!

I have absolutely no data to back this up, but my guess is that apps that are priced higher benefit more from a lite version. If your game is $0.99 and you release a lite version, to me, there seems like less of a point. It’s when I’m going to spend $5 or $10 on a game that I really want a “try before I buy” option. At $0.99 I’ll probably make up my mind about whether or not I want to play it based on the screenshots, reviews, and (ideally) a gameplay video. If I download a lite version of a $0.99 app, I probably won’t buy the full version. I don’t know why…that’s just me, but I’m assuming there are a few other people like that in the market.


This is where things get even less clear for me. As far as I can tell, marketing is all about who you know. It’s about making contacts with the right people at the right places. That’s hard to do. It’s even harder to do it in a meaningful way. I don’t want to be that fake Mr. Marketing Guy “Hey guy! How’s it going?! Good to see you!!! Want to hit a strip club? Here have some free stuff!!!”

My “strategy” thus far has been to send out some press releases when important milestones happen. I’ve sent them out to iPhone blogs, gaming blogs, iPhone and gaming news sites, and I’ve even sent them out to the local papers in Toronto. The best response I’ve had so far is from my hometown newspaper and radio station. I’m from a small town, so I got some great press from them because I’m from there and I’m trying to do something interesting.

I’ve got a Facebook page for the company and I’ll launch a page for the game when it launches. I have no idea how much traffic I’ll be able to get there, but it’s free, so it’s worth a shot.

I’m on Twitter, which has helped me mostly to connect with other amazing developers. My original intention with Twitter (if I’m being honest) was to use it as a marketing tool, but I’m using it much more as a community tool to connect with other developers. I’ve met some amazing people on there and that’s been the real reward of using it.

Finally, I started writing up iPhone development tutorials. This started because a lot of other developers have helped me in various ways and I wanted to give back to the community. However, it also drove traffic on my site up 200%, so that’s never a bad thing.


This is the biggest area of confusion for me. There are so many options and there’s no way of knowing which (if any) will help drive sales: Google AdWords, banner ads on iPhone review sites, ads in other places on the net, buying physical ad space on transit in Toronto, buying ad space in iPhone/gaming magazines, buying ad space on bigger gaming web sites, ads on TV (ha ha).

The biggest problem with advertising is that it costs money. Most of the options cost a lot of money. This means that any ad campaign I do run would have to start after the release of the game so that I could use revenue from the game to buy ads to drive more revenue.

The other problem with these forms of advertising is that it’s incredibly difficult to track how the ad affects your sales. With AdWords I can track click throughs to the site and what percentage of the users click on my “buy from the app store” button, but any kind of physical advertising is impossible to track.


Well, unfortunately, I don’t really have any. I’m still trying to figure all this out. I’m hoping that it will get easier with each game. The problem for me right now is that this is my first game, so I don’t have any data about what to expect. I also don’t know how much traffic I can expect from advertising.

I’m sorry this post doesn’t really answer any questions, but rather asks a lot of them. This is what I’m thinking about now, though, so I thought I should share. This is one of those posts that I’m writing because I had promised to be open and honest about things, but makes me wonder if I should really be wondering all this aloud…