It takes guts to share, so thanks.
Applied to this, they could have enjoyed the initial success and moved onto better things. The later effort seems like beating a dead horse.
or maybe this is just my hindsight bias.
As an outside observer, indie game development is still doesn't seem sustainable. I've read too many stories of people with initial success and try to build a company around it to finally fail. There are too many variables in play to build predictable revenue.
There are of-course exceptions, it mostly involves making as many games as possible and praying one of them clicks (Zynga, Rovio etc). In such a market, the competition is ruthless.
Both perfect competition and complete monopoly are not favourable.
 http://blakemasters.com/post/20955341708/peter-thiels-cs183-... (Read from "IV. Capturing Value")
However, with over 700,000 apps on the app store, it's incredibly hard to get noticed at all. Therefore I think there's some value in working on something over a longer time frame, trying to build up a community around it.
Back around September of last year Jay and I were at a bit of a crossroads - keep going with ZOS/C3O, or switch to something else. In the end we decided to part ways, Jay left Binary Space in December and I decided to keep making updates for ZOS and C3O. I'm buying out Jay's share of Binary Space by giving him a share of revenue for the next several years.
Back in 2010-2012 we were trying to build Binary Space into a legitimate business - ie something that could support us full-time. I agree that indie game dev is incredibly hard to make a living from. I've now scaled my ambitions back to it just being a hobby. It's a fun hobby though, and it makes enough money to pay for itself :)
They should send keys to journalists, do a real marketing strategy with trailers, put ads every time they do a big update, talk to the community, etc. Marketing is a core of the formula to be rich and successful. In an entertainment industry, more you can give emotions to your future players more you increase the rate of conversion and their future value (trailer, teaser, quality of gameplay, etc.), and at the same time if you put these ads on as much people as you can, it directly increases your own wealth.
It reminds me this article:
And for the equation you have the excelente book "The Millionaire Fastlane" by MJ DeMarco or more quickly:
Those clicks cost us 80c each. This is not effective for a $1 app which gives a 70c profit after Apple's 30% cut. Even for a $2 app, it would only be effective if about 60% of people who clicked the ad bought the app - it seems unlikely that it would be anywhere near that high.
Most advertising seems to cost about $1 per click. Based on the cost per click and the potential return from a sale I don't think advertising is cost-effective for promoting apps. The only way it might work is if you spend tens of thousands of dollars, so you're on "all" the websites and so "everyone" becomes aware of your app. Therefore it gets talked about, and each click results in potentially more than one sale, by spreading through word of mouth. This also only works if the game is good enough :)
I mentioned briefly in the blog post that we got a few reviews written up. Jay contacted dozens of review sites and sent out about 20-30 review codes. We had a poor response.
In the end I think the only marketing that was really effective was that we had an existing community around the web versions of our games - at the time of ZOS's release we had about 30,000 visitors a month to our website, and about 8,000 fans on Facebook. I think this is the main reason that we did as well as we did :)
I would argue that this is what Apple had in mind initially, before it got re-purposed by "inventive" marketers as an in-game milking mechanism. You can say all you want that "it works" and "everyone's doing it", but it's a very tacky and inherently disrespectful way to treat your users. Not too much unlike the gym membership and telco contracts. These works too, but it's a predatory model that everyone hates. I mean... c'mon, selling bombs to nuke zombies didn't work that well? What a surprise.
But yes, the bombs still bother me from an ethical point of view.
I think freemium / consumable IAPs can work, in a way that leaves players feeling like it was worth their money. However I don't think they really suit the 'gameplay' of ZOS (it's not even really a game - more of a toy).
A while ago I read this article, which talks about the risks of optimizing for short-term revenue at the expense of increasing player churn and ultimately losing out in the long term: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/188197/the_metrics_are...
In the next update for ZOS I'm planning to make the bombs free. I think they were an interesting experiment - they earned a bit of money and were an interesting learning experience. However ultimately I've learned that IAPs don't make sense for the type of game that ZOS is.
As I said in another comment - if you look back at how software licensing worked before the AppStore time, it's a long stretch to assume that Apple could foresee the current use of IAP, that's of purchasing small expiring upgrades for the apps. It's really a new and largely unexpected development.
Not really, pay to play gaming has been around for a lot longer than smart phones and the associated apps. However, it's questionable how much Apple tried to foresee what the future use of IAPs would be.
Before the first highways were built, I doubt people would have expected hotels and fast food restaurants to become an almost parasitic infection around off ramps, but they did.
It's often more about the idea than what the idea can do.
This developer added it later and it's more of a fun thing to do, so not the best way to do IAP, but there's more to IAP outside of demo --> Full version.
C|Net repackaging installers and stuffing them chokeful of 3rd party malware clearly works great! Nothing wrong with it.
Norton Antivirus scaring the shit out of unwitting users with its messaging also works wonders for subscription renewal. Nothing wrong with it too. See, even other AV vendors are now adopting the practice. Who we are to question it, right?
You want them to pay, you must create a pain point, which is fine and this is what demo/shareware/nagware models are based on. But if your plan for monetizing your game is to continuously discomfort your users, then your product is basically a perpetual crippleware and the ethics behind it are inherently repulsive.
Its not just in the app stores either. Look at games like League of Legends. Personally, I much prefer a system where I can decide to buy content that I want, than a system like WOW where I'm forced to pay a $15.00/month payment just to connect. By your standards though, we should probably just assume that our users are idiots that can't resist our slimy business methods of enticing them with content that they want to buy. Comparing it to the scare tactics of AV software is just ridiculous. These are games, that people are playing for fun. If they want to pay more to have more fun, let them!