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Games - Should You Ever Pay First?

Contributor:
David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Should you pay for any games before trying?  Less than three months after launching its popular iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge 3 as a 99-cent app on iTunes, developer Tapulous made the game free and the game was downloaded 300,000 times in 24 hours. 

Making Tap Tap Revenge 3 free is another high-profile bet on the power of in-app purchases. The demand for Tap Tap Revenge was so overwhelming to the Tapulous servers that the company had to turn off the online playing feature of the game.  In only a matter of hours, Tap Tap Revenge was the number 1 or 2 most popular free game on iTunes in almost every country.  Now, Tap Tap had the advantage of a good base as the Tap Tap Revenge series of games have been downloaded more than 20 million times, and the company claims 4 million active users per month.

Tap Tap Revenge 3, is a Guitar-Hero style game that comes with free music tracks.  However, you can also buy new tracks through the game which is where Tapulous really expects to make it's money.  During the period where Tapulous charged for the app it sold about 1 million songs, but the bet is that they sell a lot more music by making the game free. 

Aother iPhone game company, ngmoco, is shifting its entire strategy from paid to free games with in-app purchases.  It is not clear whether Tapulous is moving to this model as well, or launching new apps for 99 cents and then making them free once sales begin to die down.  In theory, one advantage of making Tap Tap Revenge 3 free now is that it can be used to cross-promote Riddim Ribbon. 

Most iPhone and iTouch users routinely accept updates to their existing applications and developers are sneaking in more and more advertising. Some companies, like Kronos, also uses updates to include new features.  For example Sheep Launcher suddenly became Santa Claus Launcher during the holiday season.  These extra bells and whistles are a great disguise for the advertising and are designed to keep folks accepting the updates.

Trends indicate that a majority of iPhone apps will soon be free or have free "lite" versions with the developers using these apps as advertising to get you to buy more levels, new features or other apps.  So long as the games remain addictive and the prices low - these developers may be tap-tapping all the way to the bank.

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