“Don’t make a premium app on mobile unless you’re Monument Valley”

Leanne Bayley on why indies should consider embracing free-to-play

“Don’t make a premium app on mobile unless you’re Monument Valley”

Free-to-play has long been king on mobile, but We Heart Dragons’s Leanne Bayley was still hammering home the message to indies that they should think carefully before going premium.

Speaking at Develop:Brighton 2016, the indie developer said her paid-for mobile game Super Glyph Quest sold 8,000 copies on mobile.

The original free-to-play Glyph Quest was downloaded 200,000 times and 14,000 players converted into paying users.

That title had a ‘pay wall’ that meant users had free access to the start of the game, and had to pay for one in-app purchase to unlock the rest of it.

Pay wall

The second game meanwhile was paid-for, which Bayley said meant effectively nobody would download it.
She claimed that if anyone tells you they would buy your mobile game at a particular price point, “they are lying to you, they won’t”.

Bayley said the comparatively small earnings of Super Glyph Quest meant the other half of the indie duo, Alex Trowers, had to return to a full-time job.

“Don’t make a premium app on mobile unless you’re Monument Valley,” said Bayley.

Embracing free

She added that the indie developers didn’t want to do free-to-play because they are “nice people”, suggesting the perception of free-to-play is still negative in some quarters.

However, she said that if you’re doing something for mobile, “you have to speak their language”.

“Embrace free-to-play as a toolset, but not as a dogma,” she said.

“That’s how you have to do it.”

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Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.