Infinite Lives on dropping CastleCraft's subscription model and going freemium

Players just didn't like it

Infinite Lives on dropping CastleCraft's subscription model and going freemium

A lot has changed in the world of mobile games in the past 10 years and that's something we will be considering as we repost articles from the past decade.

This week, a reminder that what goes around comes around aka mobile game developers have been trialling subscriptions for a long time. 


The first online game for Apple devices that used a subscription model, CastleCraft's business model was always pre-empted with the term 'experimental'.

"I think we should try everything," said Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco, which bought CastleCraft's publisher Freeverse in February 2010, prior to the game's launch.

Now however developer Infinite Lives has revealed it's switching back to a more conventional free-to-play model.

"Looking at how players play the game, we realised that the subscription system just does not fit well. We are no longer going to require subscriptions, they have already vanished from the game," it says on the game's forum.

Previously you were forced to subscribe to upgrade your kingdom past level 2 in the fantasy city management game.

Players who have already subscribed will have their money transfered into Dragon Crystals, the game's in-app purchased currency.

This will happen at the rate of $12.99 (one year subscription) to 1,500 crystals, $5.99 (three months) to 750 crystals and $4.99 (one month) to 600 crystals; a premium to buying crystals directly.

As a special thank you, subscribers will also have the tag 'the elder' added after their name.

Prepared for iPhone

"It was a worthwhile experiment, but in the end it was just not worth it," explains game co-creator Tim Omernick, of the decision.

"The problem with a subscription model is that the player's first impression of a game is one of limitation and frustration. They're happily playing the game, and then suddenly it goes, 'Hey, you know, this isn't free. You should subscribe to unlock feature X'.

"That's a really awful user experience and we definitely heard about it from the users."

Notably, the change has occured before the game, which is currently only available for iPad, is also launched on iPhone and iPod touch. This is expected imminently.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.