The Charticle: Was $3 the right price for Ridiculous Fishing?
The game launched with a $2.99 price tag, and in a recent 'Ask Me Anything' on Reddit, the game's developer explained that "we do believe that developers shouldn't be scared to charge $3 for a game.
"The problem is that at $0.99, you'll need to sell endless amounts of copies to be able to survive as an indie developer. Most games don't even get close to that. A direct result of the whole race-to-the-bottom in prices is the prevalence of free-to-play on iOS it seems to be a safer bet
"But since it's almost impossible to do F2P in a non-evil way and without sacrificing the elegance of your game design, we'll prefer to charge $3."
Vlambeer's comments caused quite a stir attracting praise from free-to-play detractors and criticism from advocates of the model. But how has the studio's monetisation decision affected the game's chart performance since launch? To find out, we've been scouring the App Store.
Thanks to pre-release press coverage and prominent featured spots from Apple, Ridiculous Fishing got off to a strong start, climbing to #4 on the US App Store's top paid games chart within 24 hours of release.
Analytics graph showing Ridiculous Fishing's performance on the US App Store's top paid downloads charts. Analytics data courtesy of App Annie.
One day later, Vlambeer's arcade angling experience had reached #3 in the top paid games chart its US peak to date. The game subsequently dropped back to #4, and held steady for six days before beginning to slip down the rankings.
It's probably not a coincidence that this downwards movement began just as Ridiculous Fishing ended its one week spell as Editor's Choice on the App Store.
So, Ridiculous Fishing looks like it's following the same pattern as the vast majority of paid games on the App Store. After a launch peak, the game is beginning its slow slide out of the charts a slide that Vlambeer may attempt to manage with price drops and promotions.
While the game's trajectory may be typical, the degree of its success is notable, particularly given that the game is an original IP launched without significant marketing spend.
Considering this is a premium game with no in-app purchases, it's unsurprising that Ridiculous Fishing's top grossing charts performance follows a similar path to its downloads ranking.
In the US, Ridiculous Fishing peaked at #29 in the top grossing charts shortly after launch. At the time, Ridiculous Fishing and Minecraft were the only two titles in the top 100 grossing games chart that did not contain in-app purchases.
Analytics graph showing Ridiculous Fishing's performance on the US App Store's grossing charts.
But while Mojang's world-building game has the brand clout to remain perennially popular (and a $4.99 price tag to help its grossing charts performance), Vlambeer's latest has already dropped out of the top 100 grossing games chart.
In terms of the game's performance worldwide, it seems as though Ridiculous Fishing has captured the imaginations of iOS gamers in central and eastern Europe especially, reaching the top ten grossing games chart in nations such as Mongolia, Macedonia and Uzbekistan.
The game's highest top grossing chart positions worldwide are also in Europe Ridiculous Fishing reached #4 in the top grossing games charts of both Slovenia and Norway.
In the most lucrative markets, meanwhile, the game didn't soar quite as high. In the UK, Ridiculous Fishing peaked at #24 in the top grossing games chart, while the game managed peaks of between #33 and #51 in the other EU5 nations.
However high the game's chart position may be in other territories, it seems likely that the US still represents Vlambeer's largest source of revenue by some margin. And in the US, it seems likely that Ridiculous Fishing's launch peak is ending.
But it's important to note that this chart trajectory doesn't represent a failure on Vlambeer's part.
The developer's comments suggest that the studio considered its monetisation options carefully before settling on a $2.99 price tag, and it was doubtless aware of the likely revenue curve its premium pricepoint would generate.
What's more, the criteria for success are obviously very different for a small indie studio than they are for a large company.
By way of context then, we'll note that on its best day, Ridiculous Fishing was out-earning Sega's Sonic Dash, Wooga's Diamond Dash and Zynga's Scramble With Friends in the US App Store.
So it certainly seems safe to say that Ridiculous Fishing could be considered a success for two-man studio Vlambeer and its small pool of fellow indie collaborators.
As such, the price was right. Could Ridiculous Fishing have earned more with free-to-play mechanics? Perhaps, but the model certainly would have necessitated changes to the game's design.
So, assuming Ridiculous Fishing represents the fulfilment of Vlambeer's creative vision, it seems as though a premium price has served the game well.