Future Episodes: IAPs or Separate Apps?

Maximize Visibility! Maximize conversion rate! Maximize customer satisfaction! – Brrr. I feel dirty now. But if you’ve read the previous few posts, you know that life on the AppStore is a battle. So this is a pretty important decision!

Pro In App Purchases:

  • Better chance of getting into the charts (or higher up in the charts) because each episode bought counts for the same App. Nope, twitter says only initial download counts, IAPs only count towards Top Grossing charts…
  • A player can buy the next episode right from inside the game (but then again I could just put a link to the store at the end of the previous episode)
  • Less disk space used overall because no duplicate engine code and no duplicate assets are needed.

Pro Separate Apps:

  • I could hand out the full 1000 Achievement points for each episode
  • More visibility through separate apps that could have slightly different search keywords set
  • Better chances of getting reviewed again?
  • More satisfying to “collect
  • Less disk-space used if the player decides to just keep one of them around.
  • I don’t have to worry about backwards compatibility in my code – if I change something basic I don’t have to test all episodes all over again.

I think I’m sold on making future episodes separate apps. If you think I’m making a terrible mistake tell me right away, because I’ll spend today testing the Achievements for NEW ORBIT Episode 1, testing the Bonus Playground and if all goes well I’ll submit the update to Apple!

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    Rogier Noort on February 16, 2012 at 11:22 | Permalink

    I have no experience with the App Store (and I’m somewhat grateful for that).
    Judging from your post I have to agree with you…
    I do think that ‘Fans’ will buy/download no matter how you present the episodes. So you have to do what suits your marketing and production strategy best.
    Go for it dude.., just get me some new episodes :)

    On second thought: How do you suppose to handle people who come later into the game? Like a couple of months from now… iOS is updated, you’re on episode 6 (or 3) and somebody finds New Orbit, installs episode 3 and comes into the game mid stride.

    My two cents…

    col000r on February 16, 2012 at 11:35 | Permalink

    It’ll say Episode X on the iTunes page and on the splash-screen of the game. Might get the occasional angry review, but then again I have people getting angry at me because $0.99 for 90 mins of entertainment is oh so horribly expensive and I should be ashamed of myself for not working for free… :)

    Raphael Dias on February 16, 2012 at 17:46 | Permalink

    Well, since you asked for it I will give my opinion =)
    I have no experience on selling apps, but I will tell you what I think as a potential buyer, right?!

    I think that it depends a lot of how many episodes to you intend to produce and how the stories connect with each other. In my opinion, separated apps only make sense if they are just a few (a trilogy, for example) and sequential. I dont wanna to think whether I should buy episode 2 or episode 7. I dont wanna to read 8 reviews before I decide between episode 3 or 4. I wanna play!

    However, if you have a solid story in your main app and you add some episodes in a natural way, I will not look out for reviews about this. I will induced (in a nice way) to buy it. Something like: “There is a mysterious planet in that direction, you can buy the journey for $0.99 as IAP”. And thats it! i DO wanna know about what awaits for me in that distant planet and I will hit the buy button! I will not look around for reviews, I will feel committed with my journey! =)

    So thats is my opinion: If you are planning more 2 or 3 games as continuation of the first one, separate apps will be nice. but if your wanna arbitrary number of small episodes, IAP purchases is the way I think.

    Martin on February 20, 2012 at 06:27 | Permalink

    I vote for IAPs, and here’s why:
    Once I bought a game I’m no longer looking for it in the app store, so I’ll probably miss a future episode.
    I also hate in-app alerts because they also tell me that this app phones home, which I never like.
    Also, I will not buy another episode when it’s an extra app because it leads to unnecessary clutter, in iTunes as well as on the Springboard.

    IAPs are convenient for the user, you earn the same amount of money, it won’t help you much with added exposure in Top Selling lists because you’re not selling enough to land there anyway, and it helps you keep the code base clean because you don’t have to manage multiple builds.

    And in the end, all IAP sales are going towards your main app’s top grossing statistics, so all sales combined might lead to a lot better position in the Top Grossing ranking than multiple separate apps that vanish from those lists as fast as they came.

    Thomas on February 21, 2012 at 13:23 | Permalink

    I’d go for IAP and eventually give the first episode away for free. With a free app you’re much more likely to climb up the ranks and get better exposure. And if your episodes have good cliffhangers I’d bet lots of people will want to buy the next one.

    Andrew Eddie on April 15, 2012 at 13:11 | Permalink

    Agree with Thomas that IAP eventually allows you to put out the initial teaser for free, and less clutter is good. Also allows you to put out bonus things during “intermission” that are more puzzle like (as you did with Episode 1) – just something to pass the time between story lines.

    Matt Curtis on April 18, 2012 at 01:23 | Permalink

    I don’t know. Personally, I prefer a separate app-episode format, because it feels more unique/defined/exciting (like “Oh, this is something new! Cool!”)

    Adam Gibson on November 27, 2012 at 16:57 | Permalink

    I vote for both. Give the user the option how he wants to buy it. Create a new app that will contain all future episodes and will not require IAP (make it $10 and never reduce price on it ever). I would prefer to buy the integrated version all in one app without IAP. The separate app ideas make games feel not as one. If I want to play the game all the way through I do t want to launch separate apps to play it.

    The reason I do t like IAP is that IAP can not be downloaded to install on an upgraded system if the developer is either kicked off the App Store or the developer pulls the app off the store for whatever reason.

    I want to be able to load the app from iTunes onto my ipad 10 years from now without worrying if the developer IAP is still working or not.

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