Apr 4, 2011
Trendy Entertainment’s Unreal Engine 3 powered hack ‘n slash/tower defense game Dungeon Defenders: First Wave has gotten a massive overhaul, at least in the sense of how people will play it. The Android version has been repurposed as a freemium title – it is now free to download, with the ability to buy Mana via the Android Market’s new In-App Billing system. This is the same app release as the initial release, instead of a new release – cue anger from people who bought the game when it was a paid app.
The game hasn’t just been converted to freemium, it’s gotten some new content as well. It’s now entitled Dungeon Defenders: First Wave Deluxe. There’s now an online competitive player versus player mode, so you can fight other players using your leveled up characters. As well, there’s apparently now content for devices with Tegra 2 chips such as exclusive missions, enemies, and other content. There is mention in the release notes of “cross-save compatibility with Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave! Take your heroes & loot between games and the competitive/cooperative modes!” This is the first mention of any kind of follow-up to the game, which is subtitled “First Wave” – that implies that there is some wave afterwards, right? It appears that it’s well in the works.
This move is very interesting, as the iOS version has yet to go to freemium, possibly indicating that this shows how Trendy Entertainment views the Android gaming market, that as in-app purchases became viable, they’d rather try to make their money by going that route instead of trying to sell games traditionally on Android. While the iOS version has seen a variety of price fluctuations, and is currently only $0.99, Trendy Entertainment may be seeing mobile markets as viable – but only as low-cost options, even for a game like this, made on high-end technology like the Unreal Engine, and in development for traditional gaming platforms as well. And is it possible that Android is such a non-starter for traditional paid game distribution that they would have to go freemium to try to make money? A lot of this is speculation, but there are hints of their motivations in these moves.