Vlambeer: "Devs shouldn't be afraid to charge $3"

Ridiculous Fishing studio claims "non-evil" free-to-play design is "almost impossible"

Ridiculous Fishing was launched on the App Store last week to huge acclaim and strong sales, and Vlambeer believes that its $3 price-point was essential to its success.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything, representatives of Vlambeer advised developers to think twice about the current trend towards charging pennies for mobile games, or simply turning to free-to-play.

"We do believe that developers shouldn't be scared to charge $3 for a game," Vlambeer said. "The problem is that at $0.99, you'll need to sell endless amounts of copies to be able to survive as an indie developer. Most games don't even get close to that.

"A direct result of the whole race-to-the-bottom in prices is the prevalence of free-to-play on iOS - it seems to be a safer bet. But since its almost impossible to do free-to-play in a non-evil way and without sacrificing the elegance of your game design, we'll prefer to charge $3."

As discussed in a Critical Consensus article last week, Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale Of Redemption is the best reviewed game of the year so far, despite a plethora of AAA releases from major franchises.

However, the road to success for Vlambeer has been far from smooth. The game was initially released as a flash-based browser title called Radical Fishing in 2010, and Vlambeer started work on the iOS version in December of that year. But just as production was starting to gather momentum, Vlambeer found itself victim of the App Store's culture of cloning in the form of Gamenauts' Ninja Fishing, which was launched in August 2011.

"The cloning didn't motivate us to make a better game," Vlambeer said on Reddit. "We always want to make the best game possible. If anything, it demotivated us to the point where we didn't want to work on the game any more... If we could've gone back in time and stop the clone, we think we'd much rather not have had to deal with a year and a half of demotivation. It turns out motivation is really one of the most valuable things you have as a game designer.

"The idea that we spent months coming up with a tight game design and someone else could steal the idea and get credits for it. The most painful thing was seeing how, after the release of Ridiculous Fishing, people would call us out for being cloners of this fishing game they played with a ninja in it."

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Latest comments (8)

James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd9 years ago
It seems at the moment unless you give your game away, it's almost impossible to shift any units. So whilst saying think twice about freemium is fine, also think twice about how your game can be switched to a freemium model if it fails to sell at a premium price point.

I personally as a games player and also as a developer hate the Freemium model, and refuse to pay money for virtual stuff. I'll quite happily pay for a game, but not for some virtual item or currency which can be used.

However until the general public stop paying for micro-transactions and start wanting to pay decent money for games again, we're stuck with it.

I also agree -- "non-evil" free-to-play design is "almost impossible". Although WoW's "free to play up to level 20" is an exception. :)
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Emily Rose Artist 9 years ago
I don't use phone games, but I play f2p on the pc, If you go "evil" there you will fail. At least in the west :p The league of legends system is pretty wonderful.
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe9 years ago
Fantastic game, excellent price point, and no spectre of IAP to spoil the mood. Loving playing it. Wish real fishing was this entertaining. This deserves great success.
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Show all comments (8)
James Verity9 years ago
I also bought this title good price and no IAP or micro transactions to spoil it and wreck it...

if there had been any IAP or micro transactions of any kind I would have avoided it like a plague, which is how I base all my purchases on iOS now...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Verity on 18th March 2013 6:39pm

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Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange9 years ago
Their game would work well on the Wii U's GamePad (or the 3DS with some tweaks) and they could price it even higher than $2.99 (or keep that price point) on the eShop.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Why should anyone be "afraid" of getting PAID for the hard work they've done in making a game? We're at the point where too many users won't even pay for something that takes years to make because they lump it in with every other freebie game they've scarfed down and now thing everything they download should be gratis or work on some pay what you want honor system that may get a game noticed, but probably won't make most devs the money they put into it (unless it ends up monetized into timed bits).

Eh, whatever... I don't play iOS games, but yeah, I'd rather support this on a handheld and yeah, pay more if the content was there and it made the developer a decent profit.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
They would be 'afraid' because mobile games have questionable sales success at most price points, never mind having to compete with free titles. It there wasn't a fear then more games would see higher prices, arguably.

As someone who does play mobile games and an observer of the pricing levels and models I don't see many titles daring to reach 3 (which would be the realistic UK equivalent), even though they're worth it and it makes sense from a business perspective.

Issues and questions over how much the consumer is prepared to pay for a mobile title also feeds into the investment and time studios may be willing to put in to increase the length, depth and complexity of their games, and how many games of higher price points than that we will expect to see in the future.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
@Adam: Amusingly (or not so amusingly) enough, there are PLENTY of indie developers who've managed to make making games a profitable lifestyle or at least make games that are MORE that worth three bucks/quid/drachmars/rubles/pesos/yen/whatever. Of course, most of these seem to be longer RPGs, stylish platformers, crazy art projects that end up as bigger games and more, but I always find that the people who pick them up tend to know it took a long time to make these games and they need to pay more for them.

Let's not even mention Kickstarter successes, as that's a bigger bird that seems to be working for a few really smart people on the dev and player sides...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 20th March 2013 4:38pm

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