At long last, after a ton of hard work, we’re about to release ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the third part of the Choice of Romance and Choice of Intrigues trilogy.
Intrigues is currently available on the web at no charge. On iOS and Android, Romance is available for free (with a $1.99 in-app purchase to turn off advertisements), but Intrigues costs $0.99.
In order to be able to afford to keep working on games like ‘Til Death Do Us Part, we have to sell our games, not give them away for free. We’ve tried giving away our games and monetizing them through advertisements and in-app purchases, but we simply can’t make enough money that way to keep on making new games.
The impending release of ‘Til Death Do Us Part (we call it Death, for short) forced us to make some hard decisions about how to price the existing parts of the Affairs of the Court trilogy, which is how we now refer to Choice of Romance and its sequels.
Here’s what we plan to do when we release Death.
- On iOS and Android (including Kindle Fire), we’ll make Death available as an in-app purchase for $0.99; Intrigues will still cost $0.99. You’ll be able to buy Death without buying Intrigues, and vice versa. (You also still be able to pay $2.99 to play the game without advertisements.)
- On E-Ink Kindle devices, in-app purchasing is not possible. We currently charge $2.99 for the Affairs of the Court app, which includes Romance plus Intrigues and no ads; when we release Death, we’ll increase the price of Affairs of the Court to $3.99. Everyone who’s already purchased Affairs of the Court will receive Death at no additional charge, in an upgrade to the original app. (Note that this could take a while, while we wait for the upgrade to be approved.)
- We’ll make the entire Affairs of the Court trilogy available for $3.99 on the Chrome Web Store, Mac App Store, and Windows Store (for Windows 8 PCs), without any advertisements or in-app purchases.
- We’ll remove the free version of Intrigues from our web site. When you reach the end of Romance on the web, you’ll be invited to purchase the rest of the game on one of our other platforms.
By removing Intrigues from our web site, we’re effectively raising the price of Intrigues to match the price on iOS/Android, to avoid chiseling our mobile customers. When we release Death for $0.99, it will be possible for mobile players to purchase Death but not Intrigues; if Intrigues is free on the web, we’ll be effectively asking our mobile customers to play Intrigues on the web, switching to mobile only when playing Death. We want our paying customers to be confident that they’re getting the best deal possible, and not force them to jump through annoying hoops to save money.
People Who Can’t Buy the Game
Unfortunately, charging money for Intrigues will mean that some people who can currently enjoy the game will no longer be able to play it at all, especially players who are too young to have a bank account.
We’ve heard your complaints about Chrome Web Store’s Google Wallet, which doesn’t accept payments in all countries. Our hope is that by also making the game available on the Windows Store and the Mac App Store, we’ll be able to reach as many paying customers as possible.
If you have access to a PayPal account but do not have any way to purchase the Affairs of the Court trilogy, please email email@example.com and we’ll try to help you out by hand. (One day, we’ll build our own online store to accept PayPal payments, but designing a secure online store is a lot of work; since we already support seven different online storefronts, our hope is that we can handle the rest of you via email.)
The Good Old Days When Everything Was Free
Overall, this is yet another step in our evolution from a company that gives games away for free to a company that charges money for games. We began this process immediately after Google banned us from Google AdSense, cutting our advertising revenue substantially. As we’d hoped at the time, being forced to charge money for our games has been good for our profits.
We have to admit that there was another way to unify our prices: we could have made Intrigues available for free on all platforms. As a team, we agreed not to do that. We’ve worked really hard on Death. (Really really hard. This might be the most complex game we’ve ever written.) If we made Intrigues free on iOS and Android, we’d lose the substantial revenue that we continue to get from Intrigues, effectively reducing the revenue we made from Death. We feel that if we made Intrigues available for free, we’d be getting paid less for Death than we deserve.
We know that a lot of you still yearn for the good old days when our games were available online for free. We’ll continue to experiment with techniques that could help our free games earn as much money as our paid games, without using exploitative tricks for which free-to-play games are so notorious.
We want as many people as possible to enjoy our games. If we can find an ethical way to make our games available for free without losing money, we’ll do it.
In the meantime, you’ve still got a week or so to enjoy Intrigues on the web at no charge. (We’ll submit the new version to Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon this week; we’ll release Death once they approve us.)