Dead Trigger Going Free, and the Realities of the App Economy

Dead Trigger Going Free, and the Realities of the App Economy

Jul 24, 2012

File this one under “Seriously, Android gamers?” There’s an outrage – if it can be called that – over the new game from Madfinger, Dead Trigger, having dropped from $0.99 to free. Nothing in the game itself has actually changed, with it being supported by in-app purchases, and it’s still $0.99 on iOS, it’s just free to download now. People are apparently hopping mad about this switch, enough so that Madfinger felt compelled to comment on it on their Facebook page.

Now, I will admit that no one likes having something they spent money for being devalued. That’s a hypothetically fair position. However, we are talking about $0.99, not a $59.99 game, or even a case of something like Band Together on iOS which launched at $4.99 and went free days later. Seriously. As well, Madfinger did this because the piracy rates are reportedly “unbelievably high.” So, if people want the game for free, Madfinger’s giving it to them, with the hope that the tradeoff between giving it away (and making it possible to get in-app purchases) will wind up working out for them. Whether or not piracy is the sole excuse, this shift is happening, and the $0.99 price was a perfect setup for this.

There’s a reason why this kind of shift is happening – it’s because of the fact that there are people so cheap that they would do anything to avoid even paying $0.99 for a game. The excuses for piracy in other media segments, like the music and movie industries which many people feel are corrupt at least hold some value in a Robin Hood sense, if Robin Hood was about getting free music instead of giving to the poor. But this is essentially depriving an independent business of a handful of coins instead of paying.

This refusal to pay for apps – by piracy or just a love of free things – has been an economy created by the actions of consumers. While some individuals may feel slighted by it, we’re all affected by it. At worst, we get to figure out if we would enjoy experiences by paying nothing before the game suggests handing over money, and Madfinger are quick to point out that Dead Trigger is desinged to be free-to-play, not “freemium” where a paywall (actual or practical) hinders progress, and that even they on the team play without IAP. Still, it’s there, and on Android, it’s going to be how they make their money off of their game. Indie developers may make games for many reasons, but they’re still businesses. They still have to find ways to bring home the bacon, and the market is forcing developers to get creative, and sometimes do things out of self-interest like this.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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