Aug 12, 2013
For developers, Google Play still lacks two key features that the App Store has: one is promo codes. These continue to harm the review environment, and it’s baffling that Google doesn’t support them.
The other is the ability to go from being a paid app to a free app, and back to paid. This means that developers can’t do temporary promotions of their apps, they can only make one permanent shift, or drops to $0.99.
This makes it difficult for developers to undertake certain pricing strategies, and it limits developer flexibility.
But is this a definite bad thing?
Think about it this way: the ‘paymium’ model of launching at 99 cents and going free afterward just can’t happen on Android. It forces developers and publishers to properly valuate their content before deciding whether they want to go free.
As well, just a cursory peek at the top paid list shows that it’s more than just the $0.99 price tier making its appearance on the store: Minecraft is number one at $6.99, and there’s a smattering of $2.99 and $4.99 games up and down the charts. Admittedly, a lot of big, well-known names are on there, sure. But in a way, the fact that the paid charts are supporting more than just the $0.99 games, and feature plenty of evergreen titles, including from a studio like 2DBoy and Hemisphere Games, creators of Osmos, well, that’s actually heartening. Vector Unit’s success with Riptide GP thanks in large part to Android is a good thing. I’ve spoken to developers off the record who suggest that Android is doing better for paid apps than the common opinions suggest that they are doing.
Still, the fact that it’s a bit of a challenge to get on that list, and that the top grossing charts look very similar to the iOS ones, does say something too: there’s less of a difference between iOS and Android in terms of making money off of them. The same free-to-play tactcs seemingly work. But when it comes to paid games, it’s a whole new world. And perhaps, if developers can’t just drop to free, maybe that’s a big part of why it’s happening?