In light of the Ouya, and how it has exceeded $3.6 million in pledges, I feel the need to say something about it and its free to play model. While I may be yelling into a vacuum here, there are many ways that console-level games can adapt to free to play and/or improve the concept of “demos” in a way that benefits any consumer who’s sceptic about the titles one has available. It has been used before, but I’m rather disappointed that it isn’t done more often.
As such, I want to detail how just one of those strategies, which I intend to at least attempt to implement, will work for Turtles all the Way. This, and all future posts on the game project, will assume you’ve read the wall of text.
Now, as I believe I’ve said, the game will already have the levels split into perfectly serviceable chunks – 5 routes featuring each pair of protagonists and their story and a final story route that ties the story together and ends it. In addition, the game will have an additional mode that lets you roam freely through most of the game’s levels as an open world (in a sense).
Now let’s assume I don’t add online multiplayer or A Capella Mode, and the game’s price tag, if you just buy the game in one lump sum, ends up as $15 (not the real price tag, but it’s a perfectly likely one considering the game’s size).
Now, the Ouya requires at least a free demo, so why don’t I let people download the whole game right off the back and keep all but one route behind a pay wall, as well as the open world mode. So the player has one route for their demo, and full functionality of the game except, of course, the inability to access the rest of the levels and the other gameplay mode.
Now, what would the price tag be for these things? Well, if you think about it, there’s 6 things people would be paying for here, the 5 remaining story routes (6 levels and a boss or more each) and the open world mode. Normally, one would just make people pay the $15 to unlock the rest, but I have a bit of a better idea. This would give people who aren’t ready to pay the full $15 more flexibility in exchange for being able to decide how much of the game they want.
Allow customers the ability to buy those 6 parts separately, for a combined cost that’s only slightly higher than buying in one lump sum (both to make paying in one go look more appealing, and because multiple transactions cost more money in banking fees). In this case, I’d slap a $3 price tag on each of the routes, blocking people from buying routes they’ve not yet bought everything they’d need to finish to unlock to play (since not all routes are open when you buy it normally), totalling the initial $15, the whole while having a button that allows you to buy all of those routes and the open world mode in one transaction.
Why that last bit? Because the price tag on the open world mode would be $1 x the amount of routes the player has bought separately. And it would only be buy-able with the button that lets them buy everything at once, or after they’re bought all of the routes (since the routes would all need to be cleared to normally access the mode). This means that letting people upgrade from the demo to the entire game in one go costs them $15, it costs them $20 if they buy it in parts, costs $18 if they bought three routes and decided to just get everything else all at once, etc.
This allows the recuperation of the additional banking fees incurred by doing this, and allows people flexibility in the form of letting them choose between paying more to get it in bits in a more cautious manner, or paying slightly less to just buy the game outright, with the free route being a grace period where everyone can try the game without penalty.
This sort of microtransaction is not seen often enough and would not fall under “pay to win”, which is what most developers are doing with their microtransactions. I certainly hope that someone sees this and actually proceeds to try it out.