Game Development Reference
Get Your Goods in Front of the Player As Often As
A developer with OpenFeint, the iOS-based social network, told me that developers saw virtual goods' sales rise when players could see each
others' virtual items displayed in their profiles.
Your game should frequently display the virtual goods the players can buy and give them frequent opportunities
to buy them. Many developers I spoke with emphasized the importance of finding ways to expose virtual goods
to players often. For instance, display such offerings in an interstitial screen in between game levels or add an
in-game pop-up message that appears during crucial gameplay points. (For example, “Running low on health?
Buy regeneration boosts from Dr. Bob's pharmacy!”) Also, create ways for players to make each other aware of
in-app game purchases, such as with social media updates.
Offer Regular Special Discounts
This is especially true on the weekends, when most players have the leisure to buy and play.
Many iOS developers offer limited-time discounts or sales on special items. Ideally, these should be offered on a
regular basis, so your players get in the habit of checking for deals. You should also consider offering packaged
“bulk” discounts, whereby the player gets more items (or more valuable items) when they buy them all at once.
Make Some Free Goods Better Than For-Pay Virtual
Although this is another point of advice that might seem counter-intuitive, many designers of freemium iOS
games make sure that some of the free in-game items are better than the ones players can buy with in-app pur-
chases. There are at least a couple of reasons for doing this: It reduces complaints by players that buying vir-
tual items constitutes “cheating,” for one thing. For another, it encourages players to stick with the game in the
hopes that they'll earn these fabulous items through gameplay. If you keep them playing, you can at the very
least make indirect revenue off them via advertising. The longer they play, the more likely they are to eventually
make in-app purchases. For instance, in the iOS cowboy dueling game High Noon, players can pay for special
upgrades to their characters' weaponry and armor, but they can also randomly win these items when they're
successful in a duel.
Try Selling Virtual Currency Instead of Virtual Goods
Rather than selling virtual goods and items, many developers prefer to sell their own virtual currency for in-app
payments (which players can then use to buy the game's virtual goods). That way, you can easily adjust item
prices and avoid the time-consuming process of getting new sale items approved by Apple.