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An Introduction to My Indie Free-to-play / In-app Purchase / Analytics Blog

I decided to start a blog on Gamasutra to discuss what we are learning about in-app purchases, free to play games, and analytics, while we are doing it for Chip Chain. Hopefully we can help other indies who are thinking about IAP or free-to-play games.

In-app purchases, free to play, and analytics are very hot topics for game developers.  It's discussed heavily at professional conferences, many companies in the mainstream game design world are moving in this direction, and conventional wisdom in mobile says that free apps are the "only way" to make money. 

Yet for indies, it's a bit of a taboo subject, as we have concerns about it's ethics, but it's also seems like analyzing data and player purchasing behavior is a dry subject, and a far distance away from the craft of making games.  There are certainly some indies doing work in this area, and it's starting to become more common, but I think it's still an very open issue for our community.

I wanted to find out for myself what exactly it all meant, as it seemed like this might be the future of game development, and in January my company set out to make both it's first iOS title and it's first Free-to-Play game.  We have been developing mobile games since 2003, but this is the first mass market smartphone game we've created.

Chip Chain launched on iOS on November 8th, 2012, and is currently well featured in the Games page of both iPad and iPhone games tabs in the App Store.  It has been well received and our reviews and player responses have been really exciting.  You can download it for free

We spent a lot of time designing Chip Chain to be a great experience for players, but also thinking about how to collect data, present data, analysis data.  At heart we are still an indie game company, just two guys working from home.  And now that we've launched, we've now got to go through this huge stream of data and figure out what's actually going on, and figure out how we can make our game better, get more players to find our game, and if everything goes well, turn a profit.  I heard at a recent GDC talk that when doing free games, you are just getting started when you launch, and now I'm learning what that means first hand.

I decided to start a blog on Gamasutra to discuss what we are learning about in-app purchases, free to play games, and analytics, while we are doing it.  Hopefully we can help other indies who are thinking about going down this route do it more effectively, and learn from whatever mistakes and successes we've had.

I would love to get the community of game developers in on this discussion and hopefully together we can find some exciting new areas for indies to head by putting our heads together and doing this IAP thing better.  I'm sure this information will also be useful for people working at larger game companies, but I'll be focused on how small teams or even single developers can get this done.

I'll get started with a post about how we are actually doing the tracking, but i'd like to keep our posts short and concise, so that's about all for this first post. Thanks for reading and lets get this conversation moving!

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