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If people are buying your 'premium' iOS game, why try free-to-play?

FishLabs Entertainment's space-faring iOS games have proven successful, selling a complete experience for $6.99 and above. So why did the "old school" studio decide to turn to in-app payments?
While Germany-based FishLabs Entertainment's 3D space trading and combat simulation franchise Galaxy on Fire has done incredibly well as a premium title (in general, the Galaxy on Fire games retail at $6.99 and above) on the Apple App Store, the company is pushing into the free-to-play market with their upcoming Android release. Why the change? Today at GDC Europe, FishLabs Entertainment's CEO and co-founder Michael Schade explained that it was because they were concerned that they were "giving away some potential." As such, a decision was made to take a closer look at the free-to-play market and in-game monetization. There were definite challenges to this decision. One was convincing themselves that such a change was a good idea. "Myself and a lot of the team members are C64, PC and console players. We're slightly old-school; we pay for a game and that's it. We're used to that." "It feels kind of weird to have to pay to progress faster in your game," Schade observed. However, this slowly began to change after he found himself making in-game purchases on Lord of the Ring Online in order to keep up with his friends. Though he had purchased both the core game and a lifetime subscription, he was still investing money into the MMORPG -- a fact that helped cement his acceptance that in-app payments may well be the next step for the company. Schade also touched on triple-A titles on the Apple App Store that have made effective usage of the free-to-play model and in-app purchases., such as Chair's Infinity Blade and NaturalMotion's CSR Racing. "You can say what you want about the way [NaturalMotion] is monetizing the game but that's the result. The game looks awesome. They have 350, 000 reviews on App Store." Schade noted. "So, who are we to say that F2P is not okay?" Gamasutra is in Cologne, Germany this week covering GDC Europe. For more GDC Europe coverage, visit our official event page. (UBM TechWeb is parent to both Gamasutra and GDC events.)

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