Platformer - Free or Paid?

We currently work on a new game and don’t know if its better to concentrate on a free or a paid version.
Its going to be a classic platform game like mega man, more for core gamers.

We are pretty new to android development and don’t have any experience with paid games. The last years we were only active on iOS and paid works fine there.
Does someone has any experience if you can generate more revenue as a paid or a free version for such a game and what are youre experiences with releasing both?
I am pretty sure this game wouldn’t earn more than 3 cents per download if we concentrate on a free version with ads. What would you suggest here?

Here is a mockup screen of the game

Why not both? On Android most people don’t like to buy games but it’s good to give that option to those who hate ads.

That’s what comes to mind at first, but I think it’s not that simple. I have the feeling it is easier to reach a chart position with a standalone version, because the downloads won’t get split. There might also be a drop in googles search algorithm if both versions are available. Thats because I wanted to know if anyone has experience with this. Now imagine someone finds the paid version. He sees there is a free version also available. Potential buyers could then rather download the free, just because it is there. Now imagine someone who only downloads free games. He might think the free version is only a lite version and don’t bother to download any of both. Most people don’t bother to read game description texts I guess.

They won’t anyway because a miniscule percentage of people will buy the paid version. And if you only had a paid version the number wouldn’t be much higher. :slight_smile: You can also release them at different time (I don’t know which model is better though - free first or paid first, might depend on game). If you are worried about people thinking the free version is lite make sure the name doesn’t suggest that - make the paid version sound more prominent, but don’t call the free version FREE or LITE. Of course it’s only my opinion. :slight_smile:

Why not make one version with an in-app purchase to upgrade to the pro version with no ads? That way you only have one app in the store with all ratings, people can get rid of ads at any time without downloading a whole new app, and you can prompt the user to upgrade in your menus.

Also if you have a server, you can use it to validate the in-app purchase details which will greatly reduce the risk of piracy.


I think you should have considered monetization as part of the game design, maybe its too late right now. Platformers are not very popular on mobiles, and are hard to monetize as well.
My advice would be to go for a free full playable version and offer something valuable to players as extras: New characters, special powers, ability to go back in time?, more lives/continues if you use them, etc. Include interstitials and maybe banners and a IAP to remove them as well, but dont expect many people paying for that. Don´t sell more stages, leave them all free, dont kick player that dont want to pay out, because those are your best marketing assets.

Another advice: I believe we come from the same videogame background (NES, SNES) and we both believe those are the best games ever (and they are!). But the industry of videogames has changed, and mobile games are completely different from console games. If you want to make money with android, stay away from platformers.

Haha, I second that despite working on a new platformsr myself right now. :slight_smile:
And platformers seem to be doing quite well on iOS.

Hey, i was wondering what´s Magnesus´s next move :slight_smile:

Risky business to make a platformer, you already know that ;-). I wish you best of lucks of course.

May i ask why that choice considering your success with other genres? How do you plan to monetize it?

Not sure yet, I write it simultaneously with simplifying my development process by writing libraries that automate a lot of things. And it’s going too slow, so I will probably make two other games before releasing it. Anyway - I will probably release paid and free version (since I will also support Fire TV and Android TV - where only paid versions make sense), I will have paid character customisation (additional characters), maybe buying lives - things that Lep’s World is doing - they seem to be the only ones who figured it out in the platformer world on Android. :slight_smile:

And when I am finished I will have engine for doing similar games (it’s a library that simplifies for me making platformer and top view 2D games) which should allow me to release games quicker.

You know my other platformer - it failed miserably but it was fun doing it (it was not that fun to play it, which was one of its problems). And it had so many technical and gameplay problems… I’ve learned a few things from that. :slight_smile:

I don’t want to integrate any IAP to the game, because they wouldn’t fit and reduce the experience + reducing chances to get press in a platformer. Only 2 things world work. Interstitials (video and image) and rewarded videos to buy different characters. (about 3 cents revenue per download together)
Paid price would be $1.99. So we need about 70 free downloads to earn the same as one paid download.
A lot of people believe those are the best games ever, also press people do. With such a game you have a much higher chance to get press than you do with a platformer like Leps World. I can tell, because we already got a lot of press with similar looking games, especially because of the look. It’s important that the game is also technically really as good as the old ones with clever mechanics and level design.
Are platformers really that bad on android compared to other games? Or maybe just modern platformers? Our first retro platformer got 700.000 total downloads on Android and earned $20.000. Are those bad numbers in comparision to other games? I am really not sure if we can repeat this, thats why I am struggling between paid and free so much.

Haha, I second that despite working on a new platformsr myself right now.
And platformers seem to be doing quite well on iOS.

Yes, especially paid retro platformers are doing well on iOS and have beside press a high chance for an apple feature.

700k downloads is an excellent figure, but the $$$ not so much. If you had the same downloads for a match3 game you would have made 3-10x that $$. Our badly monetized puzzle apps are making $0.07 - $0.10 per download. I also prefer to stay away from platformers because of the cost of creating content, i mean, how much time and $ does it cost you to create an extra hour of gameplay?

If you are already part of a team capable of producing an excellent platformer, i wonder what would you able to do focusing that time/resources/expertise on a well monetized popular mobile genre? Simulation games for example can make more than $1 per (free) download.

If you will decide for paid game, i would tag it $3.99

Thanks for the Info, I was kinda expecting that and then thought its still fine, because you can get downloads a lot easier with a platformer than with a 3-match or social game. I can imagine it’s really, really tough to get downloads for a social game without paying for downloads. We have a self written map editor especially created for platformers and RPGs. It’s a lot better than tiled with more features like autotiles, animated tiles, enemy and platform manager, map split function, instant testplay and so on. One extra hour would take about 2-3 weeks of work if the game is a bit tougher designed. We are only 2 people. My goal is to get away from mobile some time and try to get on steam. But PC games need a lot more quality and effort, so we still stick on mobile. I thought it’s a good thing to make quality platformers and rpgs on mobile first to get in touch with press to have it easier when we switch to PC gaming. I also don’t see a bright future for free games, since the mobile market is so extremely oversaturated. It’s so hard getting downloads now and the ad income decreases and decreases. It’s really time for a change.
I think we will then start off with a paid only version for 2,99 or 3,99 as you mentioned and release a free version later to see what happens.


About the popular genre you mentioned. I had a good idea about such a game once. With the usual base building stuff and 2 armies attacking each other in pvp and single player combat. I started off doing graphics and stuff but then we realized it takes too long with only 2 people. We’d need at least one year to make this and also need some server guy to optimize this stuff and also another programmer to help.
Here are some screens what it would have looked like. It’s currently on ice.
I’m expertised in pixel art, I usually don’t do other stuff and thought a game in this style is kinda fresh and could be quite successful, but…yeah.

I also want to try Steam when I finally have a good platformer. And I hope Android consoles might be more popular one day - platformers should be popular on them. There is also Wii U - but that would require moving to Unity3D and making a much better game than I have resources to do right now.

Care to share some screenshots? I am considering making something similar but not based on strict tiles. Right now I use Inkscape which is nice but sometimes lacks some flexibility. I will probably outsource it when I have specification ready.

Sent you a PM.

I need to tatoo that sentence in my forehead to see it each morning :slight_smile:

Google Play store, perhaps is not an ideal place to sell your apps. You should think about something different. If your games is really a wonderful one, than you can offer your loyal players for an ad free version against $1.99. I believe, such an application can be sold more easily by optimizing its price. Being a user, buying an app is a wonderful experience is a wonderful experience. So you can seduce more peoples by fixing a lower price.