iPhone game download prices have been steadily decreasing over the last year and since Apple allowed developers to charge for in-game transactions on free to download apps the trend towards free has accelerated. Free as a business model demands innovation from companies that will keep making money and Ngmoco has come up with a good one in Eliminate Pro it’s new multi-player shooter.
In a hark back to the arcade players can pay to keep playing. In more detail, the game is free to download, and then during gameplay you use up ‘power cells’. When these run out you can either wait for a re-charge (whilst your buddies play on) or you can pay to get topped up and playing again immediately.
I haven’t played the game, but on paper this has several elements of a compelling free proposition:
- It is free to get started
- There is a viable option to always play for free
- For a subset of users paying for a better experience will make sense (in this case the impatient and/or cash rich)
There is a direct analogy here with earning gold in World of Warcraft – it can be done for free with time and patience but many choose to cut out the wait and pay (the key difference of course is that in the case of Eliminate Pro payment is within the game whereas in WoW it happens in a black market outside the game).