Eric Johnson

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Indie Platformer Badland Finally Comes to Android, but With a New Business Model

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 12.10.51 PMBadland, a much-honored platformer game developed by Finnish indie studio Frogmind, is now on Android. But wait, what’s this? It’s free.

The addicting and arty game launched on iOS in March for $4, and last month came to BlackBerry World at the same price. But, after talking with other mobile developers, Frogmind decided to go free-to-play for the game’s Android release, adding 15-second interstitial ads and two in-app purchases: One just removes the ads, while the other removes the ads and unlocks the second half of the game, for a total of 80 levels.

In an interview earlier this month, Frogmind COO Teemu Maki-Patola said selling Badland for $4 has worked on the App Store, but that premium downloads don’t work on Google Play. The developers Frogmind consulted while preparing for the release had changed their Android titles from paid to free downloads, and in some cases saw as much as a 100x increase in downloads.

(Of course, if money is the issue, free also works “better” on iOS. Only one game in the App Store’s Top 25, Minecraft Pocket Edition, is a paid download.)

Also influencing the paid-to-free experiment, according to Maki-Patola: The anniversary promotion for the App Store earlier this year, during which Apple gave away five popular paid games, Badland among them, for free. In the game’s first four months, it tallied 280,000 paid downloads, but when it temporarily turned free, it added 7.12 million more in a week.

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