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Insomnia theory about the reality of the app stores

This may come off as off-topic, but I couldn't sleep last night and I couldn't help but to think about the app stores and their users/customers. Tought I'd share my thoughts.

What I find interesting about them is how much they, or should I say "we" as well, are reluctant to buy paid apps. I mean, most paid apps have a price range within $0.99 to $4.99. When you really think about it, 2$ is a joke : i pay that almost every day for getting my coffee at work. Beside, I never pay for paid apps, neither do I know a lot of people that did pay for only a 1$ app.

It's like a purchase of $1.99 on the app store equals a purchase of 60$ in real life.

Why is that? IMO, that reluctant mentality comes from a lack of comfort towards buying on internet (aka needing a credit card, fulling personnal informations, etc.), or should I call it "internet_purchase_2.0" as we now buy not on a computer but on our very mobile phone, which mean we can purchase everywhere, whenever you want.

The problem here is that indie developpers do not have the power to change this mentality of discomfort towards buying on the phone, it's the giants, Google, Apple, Windows, Amazon, who have it (by unleashing vast campaigns that slowly alter our perception of culture and habits (such as a huge diamond company who introduced the idea of diamond wedding ring in our culture in the 1900s/2000s (that's a level beyond simple marketing, it's literally introducing a new culture where buying the product is the norm))). And I'm pretty sure they are aware of that and are working on that (Google and Apple are pretty good at introducing trends and making them the norm) as it could boost the app stores sales by 3x, 5x, maybe even 10x. Just imagine if everybody on the planet were buying as much $1.99 apps as $1.50 big macs.

Since I'm pretty certain this will change over the years, I do think the future of apps is even brighter than it is(thought the market is getting saturated with a lot of devs).

This brings me to realise that, unlike what we always say, we are not yet completly at ease with technology. In other words, technology is now evolving faster than our own mentality and culture, and we have a hard time to adapt to these new elements. To reformulate that again, we have reached a point where our creations have a superior growth than us, as human beings. That, here, is what I find very interesting. Could be wrong thought.

To leave on a less serious note, I'd conclude with this : the fact that we are reluctant towards buying on the phone shows that technology is evolving faster than us, thus revealing the very creation of skynet, which will dominate over the planet in 20 years with indestructible killing-machines that takes the appearance of a certain 80s bodybuilder.



  • gamestudentgamestudent Posts: 504Member, PRO

    very interesting. I hope appstores have a bright future.

  • FallacyStudiosFallacyStudios Posts: 970Member

    In my honest opinion, the biggest contributing factor to the diminishment of paid apps is the constant flood of free apps. When free apps are the norm, entitlement takes over. I have on numerous occasions had people leave bad reviews simply telling me that the pro version should be free for them. As if they are entitled to own it, and as though I work constantly to be their servant giving them free things.

    Once upon a time, paid apps dominated the early iOS markets. It wasn't until freebie and freemium models took over that this culture of entitlement swept in with it. It's a cancer if you ask me.

  • tatiangtatiang Posts: 11,907Member, Sous Chef, PRO, Senior Sous-Chef

    For me, it comes down to the fact that I don't buy four cups of coffee in a day. But I may download five or six free apps in one day. If those apps are $2 each, then I'm spending $10-$12 which feels like a lot just to try out a few games. Is it a lot? No, as you've pointed out. I'll spend more than that on lunch. But I'm also not a big game purchaser. I think I've spent about $200 on Mac games ever. So for me it isn't about comparing $60 for a desktop game to $2 for a mobile game. It's comparing the fact that I've spent $200 total vs. $10-$12 which seems like a big chunk of my "gaming budget."

    I'll pretty readily buy an app for $0.99. But I can't really explain why $2 seems so much more than $1. I certainly have shelled out $4 for a few mobile games I really wanted but not often. And yeah, I recognize the hypocrisy of asking others to pay a couple bucks for one of my apps when I won't even (often) do that. I'm still coming to terms with that. :\

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  • natzuurnatzuur Posts: 304Member

    A lot of people aren't willing to pay for games in the first place, and would likely not touch a game unless it was free. This probably isn't caused by the free game mentality, but more as a personal policy for "casuals". There are a lot of people who never touch anything premium, AAA, or console like, because they aren't even interested. But give them Candy Crush and they'll play for hours. Hence the upsurge in devs targeting them on the most common platform, mobile.

    That being said, some people truly look for a premium purchase, me included. I can install 5-6 free games, and 99% of them get uninstalled and never touched again. If I buy a premium game, I usually research it, and it's going to stick around on my device and see some play time.

    I feel like both markets can co-exist just fine. But, because of the casual market becoming so oversaturated (and other contributing factors) people begin to expect things for less, and that's why we get a devaluation of premium.

    However, I think we might start to see a swing back to a premium market again, because of the oversaturation causing people to associate "free" with "crappy game" . Premium becomes more appealing as the premiere experience.

  • StormyStudioStormyStudio United KingdomPosts: 3,987Member
    edited July 2014

    I don't think its so much a case of 'potential customers' being wary of spending on the internet or with their mobile device. I think (as others have said) it comes down to the fact that there is a booming free gaming culture now and a lot of players have come to expect things for free.

    I pay out for the odd exciting indie game title or app, but then I (we) are fairly unique in that we perhaps appreciate games from a different viewpoint and I'll pay to see an interesting game mechanic, game design genius, stunning artwork or originality. Or for a game that I've read about in some game developing article.

    In general though I guess I've been pulled into the 'I must be able to get it for free' way of thinking. Only just now I got my wife to use her Amazon account to make the most of the free 30 day trial for audible for an audio book I wanted for an upcoming road trip (I've used my trial already). (FYI .. I've gone for 'The Long War' by Terry Pratchett and it's being burnt to 8 CDs right now.. very old school).

    Perhaps you're right and the powers that be will slowly change culture and perception of spending on the app store. The new additions to iOS like the video previews might help sell a few more paid titles as customers will be able to see a bit more of what they are buying. Though I think the freemium model is here to stay. Whether or not paid or fermium is better is open for discussion ..

    It has already gone further and you're now paid to play a game. Players are already rewarded in some games for watching an advert by handing them in game currency or other achievements for the game.

    Eventually I can see a situation where you are paid actual money to play a game. i.e. play 10 hours of 'Facebook Occulus Rift Second Life Madness' (*Game not yet real) and receive $10.00, by which point you'll of endured adverts (both subtle in game placement and blatant popups) and given away lots of useful marketing data. So much so, you'll probably go and spend that $10.00 on a case of beers or a dominos pizza (or what ever you've been subtly advertised) to keep you going for the next 10 hours. Or save up your $10 and put it towards your new VR headset and touch slippers so you can absorb more of the real world. I'm probably already way behind the times and some advert setup probably already do this.

    Sorry went off on a bit of a tangent there… (note to self... start kickstarter for VR slippers.)

  • ModernMonkeysModernMonkeys Posts: 22Member

    Interesting as most of you guys saw this "problem" coming from the free vs paid, rather than discomfort towards internet.

    I put "problem" in quotation marks as I think it's all a question of adaptating to a given audience, in this case mostly casual "gamers" (I would even use "users" over "gamers") who are looking for a game to pass time while they are in the metro/waiting in line/at the bathroom (and yes, I do play mobile games in the bathroom. Hell, I'm even playing them when I am waiting in the matchmaking of Halo 3).

    I don't personnally hate the freemium model. IMO, I think it lets everyone try your game so you can reach a bigger audience, while still selling the game to those who really like it. It's democratic. Even kids can play it.

    I think the free fashion takes its root from the internet itself. With internet, there is so much free information that paying becomes ludicrous. As I said, I'm not sure it's a bad thing, it's simply that the world is changing at the rythm of internet. I did a lot of research on the correlation between art and internet, mostly poetry, but also music (I study literature), and I don't believe internet announces the commercial death of music, but rather forces it to enter in a new era where gratuity is the key (might be a good thing). Looks like game dev is similar to that.

  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef

    It's a bit of both. Personally I don't buy paid apps much because it's an easy addiction. $1 here $1 there adds up real fast. So I generally don't just buy to try. If there's any way shape or fo I can try a game without paying first I will.

    Here's a real life example from my own experience. McDonalds has $1 large drinks basically anywhere you go. So I was hitting McDs everyday for a nice cold drink cause hey it's just a dollar right. Then it got really hot so I was hitting it twice a day sometimes. Before I knew it I was spending $45 a month on mcdonalds drinks. That's insane if you ask me. So I make a point to skip McDonald's almost always cause its a waste of money. The same is true for many apps. I know a good portion of my AppStore purchases have been disappointments. Imagine if I were spending $40 a month on disappointments. I bet you would find many others out there that look at those purchases as a black hole as well.

    Oh and on a side note. Where the hell are Big Macs only $1.50 cause that would be a dang cheap lunch.

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • RPRP Posts: 1,990Member
    edited July 2014

    Well @tendremer, some Micky Ds do have 2 for one Big Macs after 9 pm. Just save the other one for lunch.......ew. Not that I have every done anything like that....noooooooo!

  • ModernMonkeysModernMonkeys Posts: 22Member

    Here in Montreal we have "McValeurs" which are the cheapest burgers you can get. It's not much food but two of them for 3,20$ at 3am feel like heaven in your mouth... until you taste them sober...

  • StormyStudioStormyStudio United KingdomPosts: 3,987Member

    Damn you guys… now I'm really going to have to go to Mc.Donalds…

  • lycettebroslycettebros Posts: 1,598Member, PRO

    Cheap is good - sadly that is the mindset of consumers and not one that the mass market is likely to change so therefore an App/Game may need to be targeted at a market willing to spend more. But the the market on stores is primarily looking for thrills.

    We are caught by the market not the store.

    BTW MacDonalds maybe cheap but what it is doing to your body is not cheap - especially if you have two soft drinks a day!!

  • colandercolander Posts: 1,610Member

    I don't like buying apps either for much the same reasons as others have mentioned. I don't mind paying for something I like but I don't want to spend money trying to find it. The games I have bought are all known games which I have played before, board games, card games, etc and I know I'll like them so I don't mind spending the money.

    I would like to see a proper "try before you buy" section on the app stores. Where I could download an app try it and if I haven't deleted the app from my device/s within 24 hours I get charged for it. I would definitely buy a lot more games if I could do that. I know you can ask for a refund from Apple if you choose one of their excuses but I wonder how many times I could do that before they told me to get lost. The average person just wont do it so a lot of sales never get made.

    I think people would spend a lot more on apps if they could do that. Imagine lying on the couch or in bed downloading and trying out a heap of games. I know I would probably even keep the iffy ones. I would be thinking "It is only a buck what the hell I might play it again". Now imagine people all over the world doing that I think we developers would sell a lot more apps.

    Like everyone I don't want to waste my money on a bunch of crap I don't want but as things stand at the moment that is exactly what would happen so I just don't buy anything.

  • tenrdrmertenrdrmer Posts: 9,934Member, Sous Chef, Senior Sous-Chef

    @RP said:
    Well tendremer, some Micky Ds do have 2 for one Big Macs after 9 pm. Just save the other one for lunch.......ew. Not that I have every done anything like that....noooooooo!

    Haha I used to do that when BK whoppers where buy one get one. Big Macs don't have to same appeal as those whoppers used to have on me.

    @lycettebros‌ yeah yet another reason why I have since laid off on those big ol drinks

    It's not my fault I never learned to take responsibility for anything. ;)

  • lycettebroslycettebros Posts: 1,598Member, PRO

    glad to hear it @tenrdrmer :)

  • klickinkklickink Posts: 35Member

    I bought a $10 app today, and a $0.99 app yesterday. Probably spend $20-30 per month on apps and my friends and family do as well, my brother spends $100+ per month and this young kid I worked with at an old job of mine once found a twenty dollar bill on the job and instantly went to his phone and spent $20 on gems in Clash of Clans. Why I thought to comment is first, I am around people who use the App Store as one of their main sources of entertainment and I personally believe that as a generation grows up, not just on video games but with video games being the go to medium for entertainment, you will see people willing to part with their hard earned dollars for this service. However people who are afraid to spend money will always exist. So to get someone to pay you,

    1 make something so popular and trendy that it is a must have and make then card more about the software then money, obviously that'd not exactly easy.

    2 offer a trial version so they can test the app for free before paying you


    3 unfortunately the standard being set by games like Clash and league of legends is free to play then prey on their wallets make them crave not the software itself but the in-game gems, potions or skins.

    I know this isn't ground breaking new information to anyone but I fear you are looking at the question wrong it's not the amount, but the necessity. You feel like you need coffee more than you need $2 and you do need food but an app... You want downloads make your user NEED it.

  • POLYGAMePOLYGAMe Posts: 3,470Member

    I think it's relatively simple. There are two kinds of gamers, traditional and casual. I consider myslf a traditional gamer. I grew up on consoles. Funnily enough, I hardly ever download "FREE" games because I HATE IAP. Sure, it can be done well but I prefer to pay outright. The vast majority of my installed games are premium. Casual gamers tend to prefer free stuff and often casual games are better suited to being freemium.

    I have also found that it's almost impossible to compete in the over-saturated free market. My best performing free game gets 5-10 downloads a day... clearly that's not going to bring in much ad revenue, yet my paid games do pretty well (considering zero marketing ever goes into it - lol).

    I wouldn't recommend going free unless you know how to market it REALLY well. The market is just too saturated.

    In saying that, the market overall is pretty tough, it's really hard to get noticed, which is why I'm going with a publisher this time around. I reckon that's the best way to go to get seen.

  • unbeatenpixelunbeatenpixel Game Developer Posts: 532Member, PRO

    while we are speaking about free and paid apps, if apple agree with google about app has IAP,it shouldn't list with free apps.

    Is it good thing or bad thing for us?

    Free Category- Like candy crush,clash of clans they will go,it can be good thing but of course they never leave free category in my opinion,they create new version of candy crush totally free.

    If they do that,paid category top 10 look like free top10,even if they never leave free category,they will be on both side.

    this can hurt us more than ios6 appstore changes

    Check out my games on the App Store!

    Startup Grave / Wordgraphy / Polycolor / 20 Seconds / Minimal Maze / Lokum

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