Mobile pricing discussion


I’d be in favour of a single flat charge for the game, as I already know I like it, but I don’t think that would be the right approach for you. Instead I suggest something like Overcast did, releasing the core game for free, say with a single map, and having a single IAP to unlock everything, including future enhancements.

I’d be less in favour of incremental purchases, e.g. basic game for free/99c, then 99c for each map, but if that works out the best model to keep you going I think it’s OK.

The final option is some sort of ‘gems’ model, where the user pays for in-game currency that never ends (e.g. Candy Crush). I hate that system, and wouldn’t buy your game just on principle.


Fair enough, I wouldn’t either! We’d never ship with energy or consumable IAP. They’re a millstone around mobile gaming’s neck.

The options we’re currently considering are:

  • paid
  • free with one map, one in-app purchase to unlock everything else
  • free with one or two maps, in-app purchases to unlock each map (or group of 2 - 3 maps), and one last in-app purchase to unlock everything

At this point at least ads are out.

We’ve had a number of comments along the vein of “I don’t normally buy paid apps, but I would buy Mini Metro because I’ve played it on PC”. I think that’s indicative of the mobile mindset, and is why we’re considering free. Paying upfront for an unknown game (sometimes even for a known game!) is such a huge barrier to downloads. Back in March last year the free Mini Metro alpha spread like wildfire after it got some mainstream press, and it seems a shame to waste that viral potential on mobile by putting a paywall in front of it. Perhaps though, with Apple’s push to support premium again, it might not be too much of a burden? Talking myself in circles again! :slight_smile:

Urgh I just said ‘viral’.


Has there been any precedent cases of a video game being published as different versions on the same market store?

For example, a video game that is published onto the AppStore as three of the following:

  • Paid full game
  • Free game with 2 maps. No leaderboards.
  • Paid with 5 maps and leaderboards. Price is less than full game.


A flat fee for a app is better than free to play and pay to enjoy, to advance another level, or experience full features. Even if the fee is above $ 9.


I come from the possibly unique point of view that above all I think that you’ve made a stellar game that I really adore, and I want you to get paid handsomely for that, above all else.

To that end, I think it would be criminal to release a free London-only version of the game. You’d get huge downloads, but very low conversion, and you’d not make nearly the money you could. I’m reminded of OneManLeft’s Outwitters, which had 4 diverse teams, but one of them was free, and almost everyone was satisfied with that. I’ve been addicted to this game for a year, playing London-only, so I know that plenty of folks would stop there.

I also think that it should be possible to buy into 100% access to the game and not have to confront ads if bought.

So where’s the middle ground? I’m not at all bothered by Crossy Road’s implementation. I’ve not bought a thing, but I watch the ads (or run them and pay attention to something else for 30 seconds) to speed up my unlocking. Radical’s “watch an ad to continue after your first fail” also seems to work for me.

The problem here is that Mini Metro isn’t an unlock-fest like Crossy Road, and watching an ad to continue is counter to the spirit of the game. So you’d likely have to come up with something else. But I say the free version should have only one map AND ads. That way you get your money either way. And the upgrade is doubly attractive, offering more maps AND removing ads. Win-win.

I also think anyone that’s been playing this game and is passionate enough to comment on this forum is lying or low-balling if they say they’d only pay $4. I know I’d pay more.


Yes, at least on Google Play there are games published as two different apps (one demo and one full game).

World of Goo has two apps: A free one (WoG Demo) which has only the first chapter and is free, and a paid one (R$ 12,71 in Brazil, around US$ 4,00). Check to see it.

Arma Tactics also has separate Demo and a paid full app. In the demo app description, they emphasize that it’s meant to be used to check if the user’s device is capable of running it without problems.

I’ve never seen a “half” version app of a game, though.


The ‘problem’ with Mini Metro, though, as @Wiyum also points out, is that many users will probably be satisfied with the London map only (or something similar), and won’t buy the full game. Since Mini Metro is different every time you play it, the need for different levels/maps isn’t as big as other games where every level/map is the same and plays the same such as World of Goo.


I’d prefer an app without IAP, but I am someone who has no problem spending a few bucks on a nice app. But most people aren’t that way. It is hard to convince relatives or family members to spend even 99ct.
That’s why I’d suggest to make it free with 3 maps and the normal gaming mode to play. If you like to play more, buy the rest of the currently available maps and unlock the remaining gaming modes for say $4.99. This model would satisfy the small public that’s willing to pay upfront and has the potential to convince a much larger audience to unlock the additional content later. It would also allow you to add new maps, etc. later on and charge for them, all while ensuring the game is fun to play in any configuration.


Like what jpelgrom mentioned in his post above yours, people will get satisfied with just 1 London map, because each playthrough generates randomly placed stations, giving off fresh experiences every time the player starts a new London map.

It is not viable. And the 3 maps free-to-play model can only work for other situations, not this procedurally generated map.


Yeah, I know, but that’s exactly the point. If you are offering a free2play game, it should be enjoyable and satisfactory in that state. You don’t want people who don’t pay to get a crappy game. There are lots of games in the App Store that have precedurally generated maps and offer IAP to unlock additional stuff (like new characters in crossy roads). MiniMetro could offer the same non-obligatory unlocking for maps, gaming modes or maybe themes and it opens the possibility for paid updates with new maps, etc. later on (without bad app store reviews).
So my point is basically: If you go with IAP, make it so that it is enjoyable even if you don’t spend a penny. If you don’t want to do that just make people pay upfront.
I’ll buy and recommend it anyways :slight_smile:


Um, I thought we are the ones deciding the direction of what the marketing of the app (IAP or full/free combo) is going to be, and the developers will gauge the community support after that. Am I wrong?


I’m all in for a (reasonably) paid app, no ads, no IAP. A price up to 4.99 is OK. Also with Windows 10 coming this year, will Mini Metro be a universal app? And with that the option to pay once and enjoy the game on any (windows) device is also a great option!

No one mentioned the recent hit Alto’s Adventure? This game has a great yet simple design, it is paid (only 1.99) and has no ads and no IAP. Would be interesting to know their sales, though.


I am all for paying for games on mobile platform. Freemium games are a huge turn off for me, I don’t want to have to check back every day, and most importantly I do not want to play a waiting game. So many free games have you wait on items, so game play is harvest, st new items and come back in a few hours. Those aren’t games, their chores.

I want to pay for a game and have all of it readily available. I want to level up due to skill, not how much money I put into it, and most importantly, I do not want ads. If you ask me it is not a question of free or paid, but how much to charge. As I said, I prefer to buy a game, but there is only so much I am willing to pay for a mobile game. Most (if not all) of the mobile games I have bought are under $5. I am not entirely apposed to paying more than $5, but I would have to know I enjoy the game before I am willing do dish out more money. That’s why I love demos. Play a little for free, buy what I line, pass on what I don’t.


What if the procedurally generated content keeps the random seed it generates, and reuses the seed over and over again each time the player plays 1 level of London?


As a developer of both paid and free iOS/android games, I would say without a doubt this should be premium, around the $2.99 to $4.99 price range. It has a clean aesthetic which Apple will like, so I reckon you’re likely to get a feature if you contact them ahead of release.

Although the freemium market is huge, it’s better suited to small throwaway games or big clash of clan / candy crush style games where they’ve spent ages tuning the monetisation to ensure it is cost effective to buy installs. It’s much harder to make a dent in the free charts, at least for longer than a week.


Also, I wouldn’t bother making 2 versions. The version that gets featured by apple is all that matters in most cases, so just concentrate on one.


I think for me, I’d be interested in buying it as a paid app, just a one-off purchase, but if you decided to go for freemium with ads, etc, I’d definitely want an in app purchase to remove the ads. Many games do this and I have no problem with it, especially if it helps deliver the game to more potential users, and gives it a wider exposure.

I love the game as it is already on Steam, and can’t wait to buy it for my iPad.


I think what may be best for you, the developer, is a free demo (1 map, limited upgrades & WITH adds) and a paid full version without adds.

As a windows phone user the “try” option is always appreciated, and with gentle reminders that paying will remove adds and add content you’ll get more (WP) conversions.



Perhaps a free game that is limited in its capabilities, and there is an in-app purchase option that unlocks the full game and a Steam key. Likewise, the same goes in reverse: the Steam/Humble version has a key that unlocks the full game on mobile if that version was not purchased using the key from mobile?

Sounds complicated from a programming side, but I think that would be good for users.