Sunday, October 06, 2013

Increasing paid app revenue : sales boost pro tips

How ? By selling 'em on CDs.

There's an already old but still interesting post by Phil Chung at, titled The REAL Reason Why People Won’t Pay for Apps, wherein Mr Chung tackles the reasons which, according to him, would explain why paid apps don't sell and why IAPs do. I'd like to return to the paid app portion of his post for a moment.

Apps aren’t tangible

Probably one of the most logical reasons surmised as to why people don’t pay for apps is that apps aren’t a physical thing. Once you pay for it, you can’t “hold” it. It’s almost like it doesn’t exist in the real world.
Yet they ARE tangible. You interact with it (sometimes more than you interact with people physically around you). You touch it. You swipe left-swipe right-swipe up-tilt left. Perhaps it is just pixels on a screen. But how does that interaction make it any less “tangible” than a piece of paper, or some Lego? The hardware is tangible, and provides a way to interface with the app, but the hardware is useless without the apps.
Think about it. How many physical objects do you carry around with you EVERYWHERE you go? Your keys? Wallet? How about those 58 apps you have installed on your phone? Ya, you carry those around too.

Here's the point. Even if you don't always carry your physical objects with you, you know them to exist and be relatively easy to find and grab. They're easily identifiable subjects, associated to ideas in a way the mammal brain is used to. It is visible and really tangible. Yes, tangibility is the key here.
When it is invisible and obscure, virtual, you naturally don't trust it easily. You feel a pinch of ruse being at play, even if it's pure prejudice and unsubstantiated. You need something concrete, or close to the illusion of concrete.
Hence why I refer to the CD. Most people have never come to grasp what's really being sold when they buy CDs. They never pay attention to the licence agreement and all that jazz. They just think they buy an object and it is theirs, everything on it included. That couldn't be farther from the truth but this admiteddly complex idea has never been shot to bits before the dawn of demat data acquisition.
If anything, this assumption has just quietly migrated to the new generation of consumers, as seen with Bruce Willis' (perhaps bogus) case of the donation of his iTunes music library on his will.
The question was raised nonetheless: even if you have never been at odds with the idea of consuming music largely through next generation delivery methods, old ideas still have a tough skin.

Buying an app is a risk

There is some merit to this, and in fact, it’s related to the solution I propose at the end of this article. Buying an app IS a risk.
People will spend time reading reviews, poring over screenshots, watching gameplay videos and getting opinions from their friends before buying an app that costs as much as a pack of gum. Sound illogical? Imagine you’re in the checkout line at the store and you spy a candy bar that looks good. Nine times out of ten, you just pick it up and buy it. If you saw someone stand there, Google the candy bar on their iPhone, then go on Twitter to ask their friends’ opinion, then look for pictures of the candy bar, it most likely would become the next internet meme. Yet, when it comes to apps that are priced the same, it’s completely normal.
So, yes, buying an app is a risk, but so is buying anything else for the first time. Yet that doesn’t stop people from doing it with most other goods and services.

It is quite an unfair comparison to make here. Food is easily bought on impulse because it is a basic need, and most consumers simply don't want to waste time trying or thinking about it. Even if they know that the food on racks at the local store is generally tasteless, they still wish and pray it were and will often times come out of the store with the bag filled with insipid vegs.
Add to that the assumption that what is sold there should be of good enough taste and that, in the end, it's still some food so the satisfaction is still predictable, should explain why people are easily enticed to buy cheap food. In fact, they know that salty and/or sweety cheap food provides massive amounts of pleasure (and we're not getting into the domain of additives, for which there's nothing alike in videogames).

How the heck are game companies supposed to achieve that? When in the best case scenario, fun activities will be considered third degree needs (for psychological reasons), and 99.99% of the time relegated to light entertainment (futile desires), on which you have literally no info at all about the intrisic quality of the product you're eyeing, since it's a complete fabric, nowhere remotely natural and generally new.

That's why clones of match-3 of Pro Evo Soccer are at an advantage here, by the way.

I also need to add the obvious point here : appollution.
There's too much crap on those stores (and let's not even get into the problems of app validation on Android and the very dangerous apps someone may download even if they looked totally legit).
From there, you bet someone might be a little pricky about shelling out on some unknown app.

>>> Sell your app on CDs, with a well known "seal of quality" imprimatur!

Free is the expectation (& people are cheap)

It didn’t take long after the App Store opened for the race to free to begin. Developers realized that you could get thousands of downloads by giving away your app, trying to sell it for even $0.99 was a huge struggle. And it’s true. In fact, I would argue that even if app prices could go as low as $0.02, you would still get far fewer downloads than if it were free.
Free was a great way for developers to get exposure for their apps. The unfortunate side effect was that as more and more apps went free, it became the expectation. The market value. Probably the second biggest reason why people leave negative reviews for an app (besides that the app is just plain bad), is that it costs too much (which in most cases is $0.99). So people would much rather download free apps, it’s clear. However, I don’t think that means that people won’t pay for apps.
Ultimately, it comes down to finding value in something. There are thousands of apps in the App Store, most of which were built by developers you’ve never heard of before, so value can be a rare commodity. Why do you think people are more apt to buy games that look like games they’ve already played? Because they’ve previously found value in something similar
Don’t think people will pay for value? Look at Apple. Why would someone pay full price for something when you can get a similar product for half the price (i.e., iDevice vs. Android)? Because people are willing to pay the extra for the value they perceive in a product. Why do people back projects in Kickstarter when they are nothing more than ideas? Value.
People are tight with their money in general, until you show them something of value. At that point, watch the money fly.
So onto my solution…

Oddly enough, in the domain of paid apps, rising the price to what implies a product of quality, and not something produced within the darkest recesses of some chinese sweatshop, may help sales a lil' bit. Sure, you're not going to compete with free apps, but since when are we talking about free apps?

Yup, that's all.

Oh, as for his idea of demos, I guess a limited form of cloud gaming would be the way to go?

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