Pricing and platforms: Why Alto's Adventure went F2P on Android only

Creative director Ryan Cash explains why Alto's Adventure launched at $5 for iOS but opted for free-to-play on Android one year later.
"I think it's more complicated than just, ‘Android people don't buy things, and all they do is jailbreak things.’”

- Creative director Ryan Cash shares what he learned about platform differences when working on Alto's Adventure

Ars Technica has published an interesting interview with some of the developers behind Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey that discusses everything from ethical free-to-play practices to developing an iOS game with Apple’s Metal game dev tool.

There’s a lot of good game development tidbits to be found in the full interview, but mobile devs should check out one segment in particular that discusses the developer’s decision to launch Alto’s Adventure as a free-to-play game on one platform but as a premium game on another. 

Alto’s Adventure first launched on iOS in 2015 and, roughly one year later, arrived on Android. But while the iOS version of the game came with a $4.99 price tag, the Android version was notably a free-to-play game.

Creative Director Ryan Cash told Ars Technica that a number of factors played into the decision to launch on Android as a free-to-play game, such as statistics gathered from other developers and the core differences between Android and iPhone users themselves.

Cash explains that other mobile developers had seen Android make up anywhere between 2 and 30 percent of a premium game’s overall purchases, with typical Android revenue only representing 5 to 15 percent overall.

“I think I was a little bit more closed-minded before, where I just sort of thought, ‘Android people don't buy games.’ And I think that certainly is one aspect of it, also,” said Cash. “Android devices have a much lower price barrier, or barrier to entry, so people are getting free Android phones and stuff like that.”

He explains that the way Apple handles its mobile phone releases sets its users up for a premium ecosystem while the wider variety of Android devices and prices means that titles on the platform can benefit to being accessible to users that may be in a position or country where spending the equivalent of $5 on a mobile game isn’t feasible.

“There's a lot of fragmentation in general, like most people aren't on the latest version of Android software, whereas most people are on the latest version of iOS,” says Cash. “It's just a bit crazier of an ecosystem, so I can't say I've fully wrapped my head around it, but I think I have a better understanding of it than when we launched originally.”

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